Revered by his teammates for his leadership and talent, Chuck McAninch was one of the best players on one of the best teams in Everett High School’s long and proud football history.
The starting fullback and middle linebacker on Everett’s undefeated and top-ranked 1952 team, McAninch was one “of our two superstars,” along with halfback Wes Nelson, recalled quarterback Dan Michel. “(McAninch) was our captain, and he was a hell of a leader and a hell of a middle linebacker. I know I didn’t want to get hit by him.”
McAninch, who lived most of his adult life in California where he was a high school football coach and later a school administrator, died on June 24 at age 81. He had suffered from Parkinson’s disease for several years.
In 2012, McAninch made his last visit to Everett for the 60th anniversary reunion of the championship team. The effects of his disease had become more severe and he needed a walker to move around.
“He was failing (physically), but he was still sharp as a tack,” said teammate and friend Orlin Griggs. “I remember him saying that football had been the driving force for him his whole life. If it hadn’t been for football, he probably never would’ve gone to college.”
In 1952, under the guidance of legendary Everett coach Jim Ennis, the Seagulls returned several players from a team that had lost just one game the year before. Competing in the Cross-State League (a forerunner of the Western Conference), Everett dominated eight regular-season opponents. The Seagulls were so good defensively, the starters did not give up a touchdown in those eight games.
At the end of the regular season, Everett was selected to play Seattle champion Franklin in the annual Thanksgiving Day game at Seattle Memorial Stadium. The first-team defense finally yielded a TD, but it mattered little as the Seagulls prevailed, 26-13, capping their 9-0 season.
As the starting fullback, McAninch carried the ball occasionally, but he was primarily a blocker for halfbacks Wes Nelson and Lester Nelson (no relation) in Everett’s modified single-wing T offense. He also had the best arm on the team, so if the Seagulls tossed an occasional pass, it was usually McAninch putting the ball in the air.
“He had an (amazing) arm,” Michel said. “Gosh, he could throw the ball a long ways. He could throw it 80 yards.”
After high school, McAninch spent one year on the freshman team at the University of Washington before transferring to Humboldt State in Arcata, Calif., where he became a Little All-American. In 2005, he was inducted into the Humboldt State University Athletic Hall of Fame.
After college McAninch got into teaching and coaching, and in 1977 his team at Norwalk High School in Norwalk, Calif., won a state championship.
McAninch was staying in an assisted living facility in Chico, Calif., at the time of his death.
Wes Nelson, who first met McAninch as a fifth-grader at Everett’s Roosevelt Grade School, remembers him as “a good teammate. … He was just a good person.”
He was, added Griggs, “a neat guy. I just loved him as a friend and as a football player, and I’m going to miss him.”