By Mike Henle
In a city with plenty of history, Las Vegas also has a historic high school football team that recorded a memorable accomplishment in the 1940s.
The feat by the 1944 football team that went unbeaten, unscored upon and no other team scored consecutive first downs against Las Vegas High School, is still revered as a great story and talked about today.
Every high school football team in the country would love to have a team like the ’43-44 Wildcats that established record-breaking figures.
The Wildcat football players were dedicated to the cause throughout the year and in fact, the team is remembered often, long after the last player died.
Among those success stories are the ones regarding the 1944 Dream Team of Las Vegas High School, a high school football team that went 19-0 after winning the state football title over Sparks High School in a 14-0 victory.
The team was also mentioned in Ripley’s Believe It or Not. The Wildcats of their day drew attention for sure and none of them ever complained about the bus trips to San Bernardino, in an old bus that had no air conditioning during the heat.
Adding to the team’s celebration was the fact that the Wildcats beat San Bernardino, 14-0, and you can bet that every player strutted once the old bus arrived home from the 300-mile trip.
While the team registered impressive records, the classroom was also important to the team, too, and included some respected students that also did well in the private sector.
For instance, running back John Mendoza went on to be a judge in Las Vegas and Tom Bell went on to become a lawyer as well as working on the staff of then-senator Alan Bible.
Tough guy Bill Morris, a guard-linebacker for the Wildcats, went on to attend UNR and became a lawyer as well as a casino owner.
Center Gene Matteucci attended George Washington University, also becoming a lawyer before returning to Las Vegas.
Myron Leavitt, who was a 5-9, 180-pound sophomore running back on the team, became a judge in Las Vegas.
Charles Miles, a 5-11, 144-pound lineman, returned to UNR and later entered journalism.
The team quarterback, Rheen Call went on to become a dentist.
Getting the credit for molding the team was Head Coach Harvey Stanford. Also included on the team was Al Rivero, who went into the Navy before returning home to become a sheet metal worker and help construct numerous hotel-casinos.
Once Rivero was done with the sheet metal business, he then joined his buddy Mendoza as a bailiff in the Clark County Courthouse.
Indeed, the Harvey Stanford-coached Dream Team of 1944 helped leave a mark that was never forgotten in Southern Nevada.