In an era of two-way football, John Garner played in both the offensive and defensive backfields for the Everett Junior College football team.
Recalling his career, Garner figures he was probably a better offensive player. But in one special moment of the 1950 season, he made history playing defense.
In a game against Bremerton’s Puget Sound Naval Shipyard (the state’s large military bases had football teams back then), Garner was in his usual right defensive halfback position. The Navy team opened the game with a long march, but the drive was thwarted by Garner, who stepped in front of a receiver near the goal line and then ran the interception back 99 yards for a touchdown.
“I saw it, cut in front of the receiver, caught the ball and took off,” recalled Garner, who eluded two Bremerton players on his way to the Everett Memorial Stadium end zone. A third Bremerton player, coming from across the field, “hit me right on the goal line and sort of knocked me into the end zone. Then he said to me, ‘Nice run, guy.’”
The runback remains a school record for an interception return. And since Everett JC — today Everett Community College — dropped its football program after the 1975 season, it will likely remain a school record for a long time, if not forever.
It was certainly a career highlight for Garner, a two-year member of the school’s football and baseball teams, and a 2013 inductee into the Everett CC Sports Hall of Fame.
Joining Garner will be five other athletes, one coach and five teams that are part of the school’s long and distinguished sports history. The induction banquet will be held Wednesday night at the school Fitness Center.
Garner grew up in north Seattle, but attended Edmonds High School where he played for one of Snohomish County’s coaching legends, Rich Rowe. He then went on to Everett JC and played for another legend, Walt Price.
Rowe was “a great man and a great influence,” Garner said. “He knew his football, but he was a great human being, too.” Price, meanwhile, “was a wonderful coach. He was really a football genius. And he was a super guy.”
Garner was an offensive halfback who often accounted for multiple touchdowns in a single game, sometimes by running and other times by passing. But he was equally good in baseball, batting .490 as a freshman (teammate Earl Averill Jr. edged him out for the team batting title, hitting .505) and .340 as a sophomore.
The Trojans, under coach Johnny Milroy, lost the state championship game in extra innings in Garner’s first year, but came back and won the title his second year.
Garner went on to play two baseball seasons at the University of Washington, where he was the team captain and inspirational winner as a senior. He had some pro tryouts, but first had to serve two years of active duty in the U.S. Navy. He then started a long career in education (teaching, coaching and administration) in the Edmonds, Ferndale and Marysville school districts.
Garner, who is 82, also served a single four-year term on the Snohomish County council, but has been retired for several years. He has homes today in Marysville and Bellevue, and spends several days a week playing golf.
His years at Everett JC “were very rewarding,” he said. “There were some amazing people there, and it just made a world of difference for me, it really did.”
And the memories of those many mentors — Price, Milroy and former school president J.F. Marvin Buechel among them — are what make this Hall of Fame honor so special for Garner.
“This is very meaningful to me,” he said. “It’s meaningful because of all the people that guided me and helped me along. I think each and every one of them would be very pleased with the fact that I made the Hall of Fame, I really do.”
Jamie Foote: A softball player in 2006 and 2007, she was an NWAACC and team MVP both seasons. She was also a two-time Everett CC Female Athlete of the Year before going on to play her final two collegiate seasons at Seattle University. She is currently an assistant softball coach at Everett CC.
John Garner: A two-year letterman in both baseball and football from the fall of 1949 to the spring of 1951, Garner set a school record with a 99-yard interception return for a touchdown and helped the baseball team to a state title as a sophomore. He went on to a long career in teaching, coaching and school administration, most of it in Snohomish County.
JoAnn Larson Timpone: In the 1964-65 school year, she led the basketball team in scoring, was a member of the field hockey team, and was part of a state championship doubles tennis team. She was also the student vice president of the Women’s Athletic Association.
Ciara Papac: A basketball player in 2000-01 and 2001-02, she was an All-NWAACC pick and the school’s Female Athlete of the Year. As a sophomore she led the conference in scoring and assists. She went on to complete her college sports career at California State University, Northridge.
Bob Whisman: In 1953, he won state medalist honors as a member of the school’s golf team, which won the state title that same season. He continued to play while serving in the U.S. Army and won Northern Division championships in 1954 and 1955. He later was the longtime head pro at Everett’s Legion Memorial and Walter Hall golf courses.
Cindy Yahne Peterson: A track and field athlete in 1977 and 1978, she set school records in the 800 and 1500 meters, and her times in the 5,000 and 10,000 remain among the top six in school history. She went on to compete at Brigham Young University and lives today in Utah, where she still runs marathons.
Ed Puck: He started coaching at the school in the early 1950s, and in his tenure served as the head track coach, head golf coach and an assistant football coach. In 1969 and 1970, he coached the golf team (along with Bill Deller) to state championships. He retired in 1976 and died in 2007.
Golf, 1953, 1954 and 1955: Led by coach Harry Simmermacher, the school won three consecutive state championships. Team members Bob Whisman and Art Abrahamson were state medalists, with Whisman winning in 1953 and Abrahamson in 1954 and 1955.
Football, 1960: Under coach Walt Price, the team finished 7-1 and won the state championship. The Trojans then defeated Boise Junior College (today Boise State University) in the annual Evergreen Bowl, and had 11 players named to the all-league team.
Track and Field, 1959: Led by coach Ed Puck, the team won the state title and lost only one meet — to the University of Washington freshman team.