While the time-honored adage states that “records are meant to be broken,” there are a select few that are so amazing that it is difficult to imagine that they will ever be surpassed.
One such record is the 151-game winning streak compiled by the Concord (California) De La Salle High School football program from 1992 to 2003. It is a performance so widely known in prep sports folklore that it is often referred to as simply “The Streak.”
In the process of setting that mark, the Bob Ladouceur-coached Spartans more than doubled the previous record of 72 consecutive victories set by the Hudson (Michigan) High School football program from 1968 to 1975.
The closest any team has come since that time was when Charlotte (North Carolina) Independence High School won a very impressive 109 consecutive games from 2000 to 2009. Even so, that’s a shortfall of 42 games, which equates to roughly three full seasons in most states.
In the final game of the 1991 season, De La Salle fell to Pittsburg (California) High School, 35-28, in the California Interscholastic Federation-North Coast Section 3A championship game. Interestingly, De La Salle had won 34 consecutive games prior to that loss.
Following that setback, the Spartans didn’t taste defeat for the next dozen seasons. Constituting that run were seven years in which they finished 13-0 and another five in which they wound up 12-0.
That skein was finally snapped when De La Salle lost to Bellevue (Washington) High School, 39-20, during the season opener on September 4, 2004. That game was played in front of 24,987 fervent fans at Qwest Field, home of the National Football League’s Seattle Seahawks.
Between those two losses, De La Salle compiled 12 perfect seasons, 12 CIF sectional titles and numerous lofty statewide and national finishes and rankings.
One unique way of putting it into perspective is when the streak began in 1992, the United States was led by President George H.W. Bush and when it ended in 2004, it was led by his son, President George W. Bush.
Of course, that says nothing of the myriad of changes that the world experienced during those intervening 12 years - the Old Millenium ended and the New Millenium began; computers changed the way we obtained and processed information; and cell phones forever changed the way we communicated.
The one constant, however, was De La Salle continued to win.
The mastermind behind the streak was Ladouceur, a 2001 inductee into the NFHS’ National High School Hall of Fame. Since 1979, he has compiled a 371-24-3 win-loss record at De La Salle, which works out to an astounding 93.5 winning percentage.
“We really didn't prepare for it (the winning streak) - it just kind of happened,” Ladouceur said. “It elevated the program to a point where we had a system and it was effective. As the streak kept going, we always took the attitude that we never really concentrated on it at all. Instead, we always wondered what we could do each day to get better ‑ how we could improve our weaknesses ‑ and that also included the offseason.”
With each win, the media naturally increased its coverage of the remarkable streak, and that coverage expanded to the national level. However, Ladouceur and the De La Salle football coaching staff kept the players well-grounded and focused on what was really important.
“I never mentioned the streak. I never said ‘Let's keep the streak alive.’” Ladouceur said. “The only pressure was from the media and I didn't consider it pressure. The lead of every article was ‘De La Salle extends its winning streak.’ It was always present in every article.
“We always felt that each team we fielded was going to make its own way and make its own legacy. No one team was responsible for the streak. The graduates always were, ‘Hey, you got to keep the streak going.’ As a staff, we didn't feel pressure by it at all. It was never a focus for us.”
The old saying goes, “All good things must come to an end,” and for De La Salle, that was in the first game of the 2004 season.
“I think the players were kind of stunned,” Ladouceur said. “We ran into a team (Bellevue) that was unbelievable and had the talent level. We were outmatched. I had a lot of players who hadn't started a varsity game before. They won fair and square and that's how it ended.
“I told those guys, ‘Hey, now you don't have to worry about it ‑ it was going to happen sooner or later, just be the best team you can be.’ I'm sure they were all disappointed. That's the nature of this and it was huge outside of our school.”
Now seven years after the conclusion of the streak, Ladouceur can regard it from a historical perspective.
“Looking back at it now, it looks like it was a record, but we didn't know it at the time,” Ladouceur said. “It's pretty difficult to put together an undefeated season, two or three, but 12 in a row is phenomenal.
“The streak was a real testimony to the kids at our school. They could be focused and so consistently good for so many years. The kids can surprise you and I think people forget that.”