Legends inducted into inaugural Clovis Football Hall of Fame

From L-R: Lloyd Merriman (represented by Billy Jack Erdman), representative for Dave Lewis, Floyd Doc “B” Buchanan (represented by sister Randi Heins), Jack Mattox, Stephen Spach, Tim Simons, Daryle Lamonica, Zack Follett and Tyler Clutts. Keith Poole not pictured. (Photo courtesy of Ron Webb/CUSD)

Clovis High football is certainly steeped in tradition; the program dates back to 1924 and boasts eight Central Section championships in its storied history.

And now, 10 Cougar legends are immortalized as the inaugural class in the Clovis High School Football Hall of Fame.

Floyd B. “Doc” Buchanan, Tim Simons, Lloyd Merriman, Daryle Lamonica, Jack Mattox, Dave Lewis, Keith Poole, Stephen Spach, Tyler Clutts and Zack Follett were enshrined at a ceremony attended by over 350 friends, family and coaches at the Clovis Veterans Memorial District on Aug. 4.

“It’s humbling because you look at all the names up here but you also look at the other names that deserve to be up here,” said Clutts. “To be honored to be a part of this is really, really humbling.”

Tyler Clutts was the starting quarterback of the 2002 Central Section championship Clovis team. After playing defensive end at Fresno State Clutts played fullback in the NFL from 2011-2015, the last three with the Dallas Cowboys. (Photo courtesy of Ron Webb/CUSD)

Clutts played quarterback on the 2002 Central Section championship team that went 11-2, then starred as a defensive end at Fresno State before playing fullback in the NFL from 2011-2015, most notably with the Dallas Cowboys.

“I was talking to a former teammate of mine and we talked out how much this program has impacted the rest of our lives,” Clutts added. “We are indebted to this program.”

And Clutts certainly understands the power of positive coaching.

“I was prepared because I was coached by incredible men,” Clutts said. “I am indebted to them because they gave me that passion for football, and the Clovis tradition gave me that passion.”

Clovis football emerged as a powerhouse laid by early coaching legends such as Lloyd Leest, Dennis Lindsey, Dr. Jim Fugman and Simons, who coached from 1976-1999.

Simons finished his Cougars coaching career 220-61-6 with five section titles, four runner-ups and 12 league championships, and gives credit to his entire coaching staff that stayed firm for those 24 years.

“The assistant coaches I had then was an extremely good group; I’ve observed a lot of high school staffs over the years and I’ve never seen one like we had,” Simons said. “They were going to teach and demand from the beginning of the first practice to the end of the last practice.

Legendary Clovis coach Tim Simons praises his entire coaching staff during his Hall of Fame introduction. Simons’ record of 220-61-6 with five section titles, four runner-ups and 12 league championships is the best in Clovis history. (Photo courtesy of Ron Webb/CUSD)

Simons, as humble as always, shares in his award.

“If I thought this honor was about me, I would be a little delusional,” he said. “It was about that coaching staff, they were the best ever, anywhere in my opinion. We had a passion for doing it, we loved Cougar football.”

And the name Daryle Lamonica is synonymous with Clovis football. In fact, the legendary quarterback, who the Clovis football stadium was named after in 1973, has always been proud of the blue and gold.

Lamonica, still colorful and full of stories, played for the Oakland Raiders from 1967-1974 and threw for 19,154 yards and 164 touchdown passes in his career.

At the ceremony, hosted by ABC30 meteorologist and Clovis football alum Kevin Musso, Lamonica told the story how in his first football practice as a freshman he didn’t know how to put in his thigh pads correctly, and at the end of the practice a coach pointed out that he also had his pants on backward.

“That’s how Daryle Lamonica started off his football career,” he said.

Daryle Lamonica, who the Clovis football stadium is named for, starred at quarterback at Clovis and Notre Dame before a historic NFL career, most notably with the Oakland Raiders. Nicknamed “The Mad Bomber” Lamonica led the Raiders to Super Bowl II. (Photo courtesy of Ron Webb/CUSD)

Welcome to the Clovis High Hall of Fame.

Below are highlights of the 10 members of the inaugural class of the Clovis High Football Hall of Fame

Floyd “Doc” Buchanan

“Doc” Buchanan was the iconic and legendary mastermind of the Clovis Unified School District and Clovis High Cougar Country is right where he planted, cultivated and nourished his vision for the “Tradition of Excellence.” Doc absolutely loved athletics and had a fondness for football and is known, among many other great things, for his catchphrase, “Sic ‘Em!”

Tim Simons

Simons has long been referred to as the Central Valley’s best football coach of all time. During his CHS tenure from 1976-1999, Simons and his hallmark coaching staff went 220-61-6. As the winningest Division I football coach in Central Section history, Simons won five CIF Section championships, 12 conference championships and was named 1984 Cal-Hi Sports California Football Coach of the Year. After moving to Fresno State where he coached for eight seasons, he has returned to coach the freshman team at Clovis North. Clovis High honored Coach Simons by naming its most prestigious form of athletic recognition after him – the “Tim Simons Character and Sportsmanship Award.” He resides in Fresno with his wife, Vivian.

Lloyd Merriman

Merriman was the star halfback of the first undefeated football team in the history of Clovis High School in 1942, then attended Stanford University and made the football team as a walk-on, also playing baseball. After joining the service in 1943, Lloyd continue to play football and while extremely humble about his service to our country, he was clearly a World War II and Korean War hero. He served as a United State naval aviator during World War II and was recalled to active duty while in the United States Marine Corps reserves during the Korean War. From January to August in 1953, he flew 87 combat missions in a Grumman F9F Panther jet fighter and was proud to serve his country alongside other NFL and Major League greats such as Cliff Battles, Tom Landry, Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio. Lloyd later returned to Stanford to play football and was drafted by the Chicago Bears. However, following a leg injury, he focused on baseball where he played for the Cincinnati Reds, Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox from 1949-1955.

Daryle Lamonica

Lamonica lettered in four sports and was named an all-state quarterback and, despite being a California boy, accepted a scholarship to Notre Dame where he was the starting quarterback for three seasons. Lamonica was drafted by the NFL’s Green Bay Packers and the AFL’s Buffalo Bills but in 1967 was traded to the Oakland Raiders, a team he led to a 34-4-1 record during his first three seasons. Famed football announcer Howard Cosell dubbed him “The Mad Bomber” when he threw 89 touchdown passes from 1967-1969. In fact, Lamonica still holds the Raiders record of 34 total touchdown passes in 1969. He was a three-time AFL All-Star and two-time AFL MVP and led the Raiders to Super Bowl II. Lamonica lives in Fresno with his wife Mary and is active in the community. In 1974, Clovis High School named its football field in his honor. Today, Lamonica Stadium is considered one of the best football venues in and beyond the Central Valley.

Jack Mattox

Mattox graduated in 1956 and played football, basketball and ran track and was the first Cougar to play pro football. He attended Fresno State and played offensive and defensive line and but went undrafted after graduating. Mattox was eventually signed by the Dallas Cowboys in 1959 and in 1961 he had offers from the Oakland Raiders and Denver Broncos, eventually signing with the Broncos where he started 13 of 14 games. A knee injury in 1962 caused him to retire from professional football. In 1966, he was asked to become a full-time teacher and assistant football coach at Fresno City College, thus propelling a career that spanned 25 years.

Dave Lewis

Lewis graduated from Clovis High in 1963 and went to Stanford University where he played quarterback and punter. Lewis was selected by the New York Giants in the fifth round of the 1967 NFL Draft. He then played for the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League for three seasons before the Bill Walsh, who coached Lewis at Stanford, and the Cincinnati Bengals came calling where he became one of the top punters in the league from 1970-1973. Lewis led the league in punting average in 1970 and 1971 with averages of 42.6 and 44.9. He and his wife, Linda, live near family in Selbyville, Delaware.

Keith Poole

Poole is considered the greatest wide receiver in Clovis history and one of the top receivers in California high school history. In his senior year in 1991, Poole led the Cougars to an undefeated season and a CIF Valley title. In a playoff game against Foothill, Poole broke a then-state record with 373 receiving yards. After high school, he attended Arizona State and played four years catching passes from Jake Plummer and finished his career as one of the most prolific receivers in school history. His 140 career receptions rank eighth at ASU while his 2,691 yards put him fifth in that category. He also caught 25 total touchdowns to go along with those numbers. As a senior, Poole earned Second Team All-American recognition and his second consecutive First Team All Pac-10 honor before being drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the fourth round of the NFL Draft. From 1997-2001, Poole caught 96 receptions for 1,734 yards, 11 touchdowns and was the Saints’ 1999 Offensive MVP. Poole currently lives in Chandler, Arizona with his wife and three children.

Stephen Spach

Spach lettered in football and basketball at Clovis and was an integral part of the 1999 team that went 12-1 with a TRAC and Central Section championship. He walked on at Fresno State and earned a scholarship as a sophomore and contributed to four winnings season under head coach Pat Hill and assistant Tim Simons. He caught the game-winning, 25-yard touchdown on the Bulldogs’ first offensive play in their 37-34 overtime win over Virginia in the 2004 MPC Computers Bowl. In 2005, he signed as a free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles as a tight end. He also played with the Minnesota Vikings (2007) and New England Patriots (2007-08) before signing with the Arizona Cardinals where he played from 2008-2010. He then signed with the St. Louis Rams and ended his NFL career in 2012 as a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Spach currently resides in Clovis with his wife, Katey, and their three sons.

Tyler Clutts

Clutts played defensive end at Clovis, and, most famously, quarterback in 2002, racking up 2,383 passing yards in his senior year and leading the Cougars to an 11-2 record and a Central Section title. He was also a state champion in wrestling at 215 pounds. Clutts then played at Fresno State where he played defensive end and started as a sophomore. For his career, he registered 172 tackles and 23 ½ sacks. After going undrafted, he played in the Canadian Football League and then in the NFL for the Chicago Bears, Houston Texas and Miami Dolphins from 2011-13. Clutts then signed with the Dallas Cowboys and soon paved the way for DeMarco Murray, the NFL’s leading rusher that season, before finishing his career in 2015. He currently resides in Frisco, Texas with his wife, Tiffany, and their four children and is a strong advocate for International Justice Mission.

Zack Follett

Follett graduated from Clovis in 2005 where he was a standout linebacker before attending Cal-Berkeley where he started 24 games in his career and was known as a physical and punishing football player. In his college career, he registered 245 tackles and set a school record with 13 forced fumbles, earning Second Team All-Pac 10 honors his senior year. Follett was selected by the Detroit Lions in the seventh round of the 2009 NFL Draft and made his debut against the Pittsburgh Steelers. In 2010, Follett was injured while converting a kickoff return against the New York Giants and was placed in injured reserve, ending his NFL career. He currently resides in Clovis with his wife, Chelsea, and is the owner of Kuppa Joy Coffee House.

Paul Meadors is a man of many talents. He is a elementary school teacher, Junior High athletic director, and basketball coach in Traver, CA, in addition to serving as the Sports Editor for the Clovis Roundup. He is also the author of the humorous book “Letters to eBay,” and he has recorded a piano album of his own compositions titled “Surviving the Storm.” He lives in Fresno with wife Lori and daughters Georgie, Alex and Ruthie.