The Mid-Week Take: August 23, 1960

After three games, with a 1-2 record, the Raiders were a definitively middling team. All three games were close and the team’s point totals on both sides of the ball were near the league median. The Raiders had significantly outscored their opponents in the first and fourth quarters, but the reverse was true in the middle two periods and they had yet to score at all in the third. Yes, it was the preseason and this was all meaningless, but the Raiders were thought to be under a real handicap because of their late start and to see them play competitive ball was both a relief and encouraging.

Offense

Overall, the Raider play calling on offense was balanced, with a 98 to 104 run/pass ratio, but the running game was lagging behind at this point, with the team averaging less than 3.5 yards per carry. Only Jack Larscheid, with his 6.3 yard average, was anything more than workmanlike in the run game. Billy Lott and Buddy Allen were given the lion’s share of the work in the backfield, but Lott’s pass catching ability gave him the advantage when it came to competing for a starting spot. Tony Teresa was the only other runner getting a serious look, but he, too, was more effective catching the ball and, in fact, was going to get his reps in at the flanker spot going forward, at least until tight end Gene Prebola returned from injury.

As for the quarterback spot, there was no competition. Eddie Erdelatz had to all intents anointed Tom Flores the starter and, despite his recent injury, he would presumably get his job back as soon as he returned. In the meantime, Babe Parilli and Paul Larson would fight over the scraps.

The biggest area of uncertainty, though, was at wide receiver. Prebola was the tight end, by default, and Charlie Hardy seemed to be taking the split end spot as his own, but the other side was still up for grabs. Teresa was working there for now, but the team’s long-term plans for him were still unclear. He had thrown a few halfback passes and was adequate catching passes coming out of the backfield, but he was woeful in the running game, averaging just a couple of yards per carry and was often stuffed behind the line.

On the offensive line, only 5’9″ Don Manoukian was mentioned with any regularity in press dispatches, so it was hard to tell what was going on there. It was clear, however, that the offense was still very much a work in progress.

Defense

The Raider defense was in the same boat. They were good at getting the ball from their opponents—eight turnovers in three games—but they were giving up a lot of yards otherwise. Opponents were averaging nearly a yard more per run and better than six yards a clip through the air, and the Oakland rush had sacked opponent quarterbacks only once for a paltry five yards.

On the defensive line, end Carmen Cavalli was getting the most attention, but it was clear that the unit wasn’t getting it done. Among the linebackers, Bob Dougherty and Tom Louderback seemed to be doing a fair job, but still needed to get stouter against the run. And in the secondary, cornerback Joe Cannavino was rising above the crowd in pass coverage and was showing a nose for loose balls.

Special Teams

Erdelatz appeared to have settled on linebacker Larry Barnes to do the placekicking. He was true on extra points and was okay so far on field goals as well. Halfback Wayne Crow had laid claim to the punting job with his 45-yard average. The return and coverage teams were performing within expected norms.

The consensus among observers was that the Raiders had beaten expectations so far. They held their own in preseason losses against the Texans and the Chargers, teams that were thought to be title contenders and, above all, they hadn’t embarrassed themselves. And it was clear that many people thought they would. They were about to face a pretty stern test of two games in five days, but they were also in a position to get a good feel for the players who, to this point, hadn’t played all that much. After that, they would have two full weeks to get ready for the Oilers in the regular season opener.

August 9, 1960

Getting back to work after a day off, the Raider coaches made some changes on the offensive line. Chris Plain, who had been at left tackle was now on the right side, replaced by Ron Sabal, who had been playing left guard. Taking Sabal’s place was Don Manoukian, who was returning from an injury. Wayne Hawkins was now on the right side with Joe Barbee, a defensive lineman moving to the other side of the ball, backing up. Jim Otto was still at center.

Hayward Daily Review

August 2, 1960

The team had a day off following the game, but head coach Eddie Erdelatz took that time to review the films, and based on what he saw, cut five players the following morning: halfbacks Alex Gardner and Ray Peterson, tackle Willie Boykin, guard Bob Harrison, and defensive back Bob Fails. He then added one back in the person of 6’1″, 185-pound halfback John Harris, formerly of Santa Monica Junior College. Harris combined speed and strength as a runner for the Corsairs and made first team All-Metro Conference in 1957 and later spent a season with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Most recently, he had been in Chargers camp, but had been waived, giving the Raiders a chance to pick him up. Also returning to the team was tackle Fred Fehn, who had spent the past couple of weeks nursing a leg injury. This put the head count at 48, five over the limit of the first mandatory cut on August 22.

Erdelatz said he found no surprises in the movies. “We’ll try and correct the mistakes made in that game before going on to the new stuff,” he said. “They performed well considering everything and we’re expecting considerable improvement by the time we play New York.” To that end, he held a surprise 90-minute scrimmage that focused on improving both the running and the passing game.

Afterward, even more changes were made. Guard Charlie Kaaihue, a potential first-teamer who had been temporarily sidelined because of injury, was cut for what was reported as “disciplinary reasons.” The team also announced the signing of yet two more players, fullback Jim Varnado, and end Charles Moore. Additionally, Erdelatz made an offensive line adjustment, moving Ron Sabal from right guard to right tackle, in place of Don Churchwell. Don Manoukian moved in to take Sabal’s spot at guard. And, finally, Varnado’s signing meant a move for Brad Myers from fullback to halfback.

Hayward Daily Review
Oakland Tribune
San Mateo Times

July 28, 1960

Anticipation continued to build in Oakland as the Raiders approached their first game. Head coach Eddie Erdelatz named Tom Flores and Paul Larson as offensive captains and said that, on defense, the middle linebacker would serve in that role. Tom Louderback, who would normally fill that spot, was a definite scratch for the Texans game and Bob Dougherty would take his place. Meanwhile, two guards, Don Manoukian and Charlie Kaaihue, were back at practice after spending a couple of weeks sidelined with pulled muscles and were expected to play on Sunday.

Oakland Tribune

July 25, 1960

The Raiders suffered a significant blow on the last day of two-a-day practices. Quarterback hopeful Tom Flores, in a neck-and-neck contest with Paul Larson for the starting job, went down with a pulled calf muscle. Trainer George Anderson wouldn’t put a number on how many days he might miss and head coach Eddie Erdelatz was faced with the possibility of having only one quarterback, Larson, ready to go against Dallas. Third-team signal-caller Bob Webb was still out with a bad knee and Tony Teresa was firmly installed at halfback.

The team had seen fewer new injuries in recent days, but Flores’ setback was a reminder that luck could change. Others who could miss game action because of injuries were defensive end Charley Powell, who was definitely out for the contest because of his strained Achilles tendon, and guards Charlie Kaaihue and Don Manoukian who were still being treated for pulled muscles.

Oakland Tribune

July 21, 1960

With the first preseason game just ten days away, the Raiders were still far from deciding on a first-team quarterback. Both Tom Flores and Paul Larson were proving to be highly accurate passers in practice and were making the coaching staff’s decision as difficult as possible. A favorite target of both men was Tony Teresa, the former San Jose State quarterback, who had recently moved from defense to offense. Head coach Eddie Erdelatz said the move was only temporary and was intended to give Teresa experience at multiple positions.

It wouldn’t be a camp report without injury news and today was no exception. Middle linebacker Tom Louderback and defensive end Larry Barnes each sustained mild shoulder bruises and would probably have light duty for a few days. More seriously, end Ron Beagle and defensive lineman Jim Woodard were entering their second week off with no end in sight. But on the plus side, halfback Jack Larscheid had fully recovered from his hamstring pull and guards Don Manoukian, Charlie Kaaihue, and defensive lineman Charley Powell were expected back on the field any day.

Oakland Tribune

July 18, 1960

After a day’s rest, the squad returned to practice to find a newcomer in their ranks. Tom Louderback, a 6’2″, 230-pound guard/linebacker out of San Jose State. A two-year starter for the Spartans, Louderback made second-team UPI All-Coast in 1954. He was picked in the tenth round by the Redskins in 1955, but didn’t make it out of training camp and spent the rest of the year with Hamilton in the Canadian leagues. He signed with the Browns a year later, but joined the US Navy before the season. Mustering out in 1958, Cleveland cut him in September, after which he earned a starting linebacker spot with the Eagles, where he spent the next two seasons. He was now in Oakland to try his hand with the new league.

Meanwhile, two more players left camp. Citing personal reasons, backs Marv Lasater and George Blanch packed their bags and departed. The Raiders had had high hopes for Lasater, offering him a nice bonus to sign, but once in camp his lack of speed seemed to doom his chances to stick. Blanch had been installed on the third team and probably got out the door just before the headsman arrived.

On the field, head coach Eddie Erdelatz continued to push his charges hard and was very pleased with what he saw. “If they keep coming at this rate,” he said, “we’re going to fool a few teams.” Erdelatz was generous in his praise for members of the offensive line including tackle Chris Plain, guards Don Manoukian and Ron Sabal, and center Jim Otto. Defensive secondary members Alex Bravo, John Brown, LC Joyner, Eddie Macon, and Tony Teresa, were also mentioned by name as were receiver Charlie Hardy and defensive end Carmen Cavalli.

Over in sick bay, Charley Powell‘s strained Achilles tendon had healed enough to allow him to practice, but linebacker Buddy Alliston had pulled a groin muscle and took Powell’s place on the bench to recuperate.

Eureka Humboldt Standard
Hayward Daily Review
Long Beach Independent
Long Beach Press Telegram
Lubbock Morning Avalanche
Ukiah Daily Journal
Oakland Tribune

July 13, 1960

Faced with an overwhelming number of hopefuls, the Raider coaching staff ran the players through a number of tests and drills, such as a timed 50-yard dash, and used the grades to make a first round of cuts. Sixteen players got the axe (counting three who left camp voluntarily), including the supremely confident Sandy Lederman, and George Washington’s Ed Hino, who was thought to be a leading contender for the quarterback position early on. The complete list is below.

Among the players who rated highest in the speed category were backs Buddy Allen, Alex Bravo, John Brown, LC Joyner, and Wayne Schneider, and end Dan Edgington.

At the quarterback spot, Tom Flores and Paul Larson appeared to be leading the field. Head coach Eddie Erdelatz said Tony Teresa, a fine two-way quarterback with San Jose State, would be playing halfback. Also garnering early praise from the coaches were halfback Billy Lott, defensive back Eddie Macon, linemen Chris Plain, Don Manoukian, and Don Churchwell, and ends Gene Prebola and Charlie Hardy.

The first crack at a possible starting lineup on offense was:

E Charlie Hardy
E Dan Edgington
T Chris Plain
T Don Churchwell
G Charlie Kaaihue
G Don Manoukian
C Jim Otto
QB Tom Flores
HB Buddy Allen
HB Billy Lott
FB Dean Philpott

Over in the trainer’s corner, Wayne Crow, the first training camp casuality, appeared to have recovered from his ankle injury and was expected to return to camp almost immediately. However, five other players were sent to sick bay with ailments of their own, including end Walt Denny (hamstring pull), halfback Jack Larscheid (hamstring pull), tackle Fred Fehn (unidentified muscle pull), defensive end Charley Powell (strained Achilles tendon), and tackle Jim Woodard (strained right knee). Fehn was expected to be out the longest, at two weeks. The other four were expected to miss no more than a few days.

Roster Cuts:

T Charles Bates
LB Tom Davis (voluntary)
HB Al Feola
HB Max Fields
HB James Hall
QB Ed Hino
HB Vin Hogan (voluntary)
T Curt Iaukea (voluntary)
HB Stan Jones
E Joe Kominski
QB Sandy Lederman
E Mose Mastelotto
QB Ron Newhouse
HB Andrew Pierce
E Gordon Tovani
E Willis Towne

Oakland Tribune

May 21, 1960

The Raiders announced the signing of guard Don Manoukian and fullback Larry Barnes. Manoukian, who last played organized football as a senior at Stanford in 1957, had spent the next two years in pro wrestling before joining the Raiders. Barnes, a Colorado State grad, played in ten games for the 49ers in 1957, gaining 78 yards on 20 carries. Released by San Francisco after the season, he was teaching school in Nebraska when the AFL came calling. The Raiders indicated Barnes would likely play at linebacker or on the defensive line rather than on offense.

Oakland Tribune