Class of 2003
Lee Bofto - Coach
Not many football coaches win 75% of their games, but that is exactly what Lee Bofto accomplished while leading the Wenatchee Panthers from 1965-84. Bofto's Panthers were generally known as the preeminent power in the state during the 1970s and were known for being well-prepared with a stifling defense.
In amassing three straight state championships (1970-72), Bofto's Panthers also built a 54-game conference winning streak (1969-72), resulting in nine straight Big Nine Conference titles. In 1973, the team had a remarkable streak of ten straight games where they were not scored upon. During that same period, the Panthers outscored their opponents 383-0, an average score of 42-0. The state may never again see such dominance.
Bofto's coaching prowess was not limited to the gridiron. His Lady Panther softball teams won four league titles and made four visits to the state tournament. Under Bofto from 1979-87, the Panthers compiled a 167-49 record.
Bofto's legacy at Wenatchee includes being named Big Nine Coach of the Year nine times as a football coach and four times as a softball coach. He was Washington State Football Coach of the Year four times and coached the East squad in the 1980 State All-Star Game. He is a member of the Wenatchee Panther and Washington State Football Coachers Halls of Fame.
Mark Kafentzis - Football
Kafentzis, the oldest of five brothers to star at the University of Hawaii, excelled in wrestling, track, and football during his high-school days at Richland. As a Bomber, Kafentzis shone primarily in football, where he garnered All Big-Nine Conference and All-Area honors on both sides of the ball his senior year.
His talents led him to junior college powerhouse Columbia Basin College where, in 1978, Kafentzis and his Hawk teammates brought home the National Junior College Football Championship. In his time at CBC, Kafentzis was named All-Conference defensive back and All-American as a kick return specialist.
Kafentzis' success at CBC drew the interest of several big name colleges, but Kafentzis opted for lesser-known Hawaii. His decision paid big dividends. Playing under coach Dick Tomey, Kafentzis' stellar career at UH culminated in his being named to the "All-Rainbow Team" of the 1980's.
The success he had at Hawaii led to a seventh-round selection by the NFL's Cleveland Browns. After a year with the Browns, Kafentzis moved on to play (and start) in the defensive secondary for the Baltimore Colts, and then later, Indianapolis Colts. With the Colts, Kafentzis was known for his work ethic, toughness, and willingness to sacrifice for his team. After a short stint with the Houston Oilers, Kafentzis' NFL career came to an end in 1987 due to injury.
John Meyers - Football
Meyers claimed the distinction of being the first Tri-Citian drafted into the professional football ranks in 1962 when he was drafted by both the National Football League's Los Angeles Rams and the then American Football League's Oakland Raiders. He eventually ended up with the Dallas Cowboys where he played tackle from 1962-63, earning All Rookie Team honors that first year in "Big D." From Dallas, Meyers traveled to Philadelphia , where he started nearly every game in his four years with the Eagles before finally retiring in 1967.
Before his professional days, however, Meyers was known as a "local legend," stemming from his standout years at Columbia High (now Richland High) from 1954-58. At CHS, Meyers not only excelled on the football field, but also on the track. Perhaps his best sport was basketball, however. Meyers' exploits on the hardwood include a still-standing state record of 79 rebounds in the 1957 state tournament, and his contributions helped the Bombers win the state championship in 1958. The basketball crown came a few months after Meyers helped his team win the state championship in football. It was this talent that led to him being selected 1st Team All-State his senior year.
Tondi Redden Von Oeloffen - Basketball
Perhaps the greatest female athlete to come from the mid-Columbia region, Redden's most impressive accomplishment during a stellar high school career at Kennewick's Kamiakin High from 1982-85 was her earning 12 varsity letters, participating in three different sports; basketball, track, and volleyball. Not only did she letter, Redden excelled in each of her sports, earning four-year All-Conference honors in both basketball and volleyball, and two state championships as a member of the Brave's track and field relay team.
Redden's name can be found among the top of all record-holders at Kamiakin in the sports of basketball, volleyball and track, and her accomplishments in each of her sports are legendary. While playing basketball for the Braves, Redden was All-Conference each of her four years of eligibility; at the time of graduation, she held school records for most steals in a game and season, and points in a game and season. She was the Big Nine scoring champion for the 83-84 and 84-85 seasons, and named to the USA Today and Converse All-American Teams in 1985. She is still the all-time leading scorer at Kamiakin, amassing nearly 1,600 career points.
Upon graduation, Tondi was offered Division I scholarships in four different sports. Her list of records is equally as impressive in the sports of volleyball and track, but it was primarily her basketball skills that took her through college. Redden selected Hawaii, where as a four-year starter, she placed on the university's top-ten scoring list and number one in career steals. Her single season highlights include being the team leader in scoring and the nation's leader in steals.
Fran Rish - Coach
Rish, a Yakima native, is synonymous with Richland Bomber football, so much so in fact, that the very stadium the Bombers (and Hanford Falcons) do battle on Friday nights, bears his name.
Back when Washington State University was still named Washington State College (WSC), Rish was a football standout, playing three years of varsity. Upon graduation in 1941, he was asked to join the WSC coaching staff. World War II broke out soon thereafter, prompting Rish to enlist in the United State Air Force (USAF). Football remained close at hand during the war years however, as Rish both played and coached USAF teams while serving his country.
At war's end, Rish was tapped by then Columbia High (now Richland High) as a football and baseball coach. His football legacy began in 1948, when he guided the Bombers to the first of twelve straight winning seasons. So good were the Bombers, that in one famous stretch, they lost only 5 of 47 games. In his 21 year tenure as football coach, Rish-led teams finished with a stellar 106-63-10 record. Also during this period, the Bombers captured nine conference titles and were ranked among the top-ten in the state ten times.
Rish helped build the powerhouse Bomber athletic program in many other ways as well, coaching baseball for 30 years and also serving as the school's Athletic Director. In all, Rish was a part of Bomber athletics for 36 years. His contributions were honored by the re-naming of Bomber Bowl in his name in 1983 and his induction to the Washington State Football Coaches Hall of Fame in 1997.
Jim Sandusky – Football
Sandusky, who excelled at Othello High School, holds a record that may never be broken. He was named All-American at three different colleges.
After his career at Othello ended with All-State honors in 1979, Sandusky enrolled at Walla Walla Community College (WWCC), where he garnered his first All-American selection (Junior College) as a small but-tough wide-receiver and punt-return specialist.
Sandusky's success at WWCC led to a scholarship offer from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV). At UNLV, Sandusky surprised the critics by leading the nation in receiving. This effort earned him his second All-American selection. Also while at UNLV, Sandusky secured what is still known as the school's biggest win, by catching a clutch game-winning touchdown in the waning minutes of a huge road upset of powerhouse Brigham Young University.
A change to San Diego State University (SDSU) did not deter the productive Sandusky, where he led the country in another category, punt return average. After his days at SDSU, his career was topped by two bowl-MVP awards in 1983, one for his performance in the Hula Bowl, the other for the Japan Bowl.
The prolific receiver's talents attracted the NFL's New York Jets - who selected him in the second round of a supplementary draft, and the USFL Philadelphia Stars, who selected him in the second round - but that was after Sandusky had already opted to play in the wide-open Canadian Football League (CFL), known for its open-style of play and its "throw on any down" mentality.
Sandusky starred in the CFL, playing for two teams over 15 years. Though he spent two years with the home-state NFL Seattle Seahawks, Sandusky will go down as one of the CFL's best receivers. In stints with the B.C. Lions, and later the Edmonton Eskimos, Sandusky was selected to five All-Star teams and won two Grey Cups - the equivalent of the Super Bowl. Sandusky 's last four years in the CFL were spent as a player-coach.
Special Contributor's Award: John Crawford - Pasco High School
John Crawford, originally from Craigmont, Idaho, came to Pasco High School in 1964 from Whitworth College, and taught math and coached cross country, track, and basketball at Pasco.
John has combined his love of scholastic athletics with his love of statistical data to become an invaluable contributor to the success of local and regional athletes for more than 40 years. John's blend of mathematical and computer skills and his unending spirit of volunteerism have earned him this year's C.J. Mitchell Special Contributor Award.
John's contributions over the years have enhanced and improved the logistics of local athletic competitions and events for both athletes and spectators alike. His efforts have resulted in several key events recently being held in and around the Tri-Cities. Most notably, John was instrumental in securing and staging both the State Cross-Country and Track Championships. Both of these events have brought notoriety to the Tri-Cities, and because of the excellent execution - with John leading the way - these types of events are being brought to the Tri-Cities more and more frequently.
Whether he is volunteering as a member of the "chain-gang" at football games on Friday nights, producing Special Olympics events, officiating basketball games, or orchestrating big-time track meets such as the recent Pasco Invitational, John Crawford is a vital contributor to the success of the Tri-Cities as a host for expertly run athletic events. His tireless efforts in mentoring student athletics, tracking statistical data, and organizing high quality athletic competitions have left an indelible mark and have made the Tri-Cities a preferred-host for some of the state's most visible athletic events.