CARLSBAD — Carlsbad High School football coach Bob McAllister is making no secret of who he’ll be cheering for Super Bowl Sunday. He and thousands of other locals will be rooting for their hometown hero — Green Bay Packers wide receiver Brett Swain.
A member of the CHS class of 2003, it was apparent Swain was destined for greatness.
“He played football from junior high and I was aware that he had tremendous skill,” McAllister remembers. “As he went through high school he got better and better.”
Swain had the right athletic genes, too. His dad, Steve Swain, was a first-round selection of the Houston Astros in 1982 and played outfield in their minor league system.
“Brett also played baseball (in addition to football) at San Diego State which is difficult to do,” McAllister added.
Whatever adoration he might have received, Brett Swain didn’t let it get to his head.
“He was very quiet and unassuming, and a fierce competitor at the same time,” McAllister said.
A story about the excitement surrounding Carlsbad’s connection to the Green Bay Packers and this year’s Super Bowl wouldn’t be complete without mentioning linebacker Brandon Chillar, also a graduate of Carlsbad High School. Chillar is on “injured reserve” during the Super Bowl for hurting his shoulder mid-season.
Chillar and Swain are not only friends and teammates for the Packers. They were teammates in 2002 when Chillar threw a touchdown pass to Swain that led the Lancers to winning the CIF, Div. 1 Championship by defeating Vista, 14-13. McAllister said it was the first championship for the Lancers since 1965.
Credit for the success of that season also goes to a sophomore who was brought in when the Lancer’s quarterback was injured in the third game of the season.
“When the senior got hurt Brett offered to play quarterback,” McAllister remembers. “We said, ‘You stay as wide receiver. We’re going to bring up this new kid.’” That new kid was Sean Canfield, who is now a backup quarterback for the New Orleans Saints.
Howie Sonkin is a nutritional advisor and assistant to Coach McAllister who has vivid memories of Chillar.
“I remember when I first talked and gave Gatorade to the team,” he said. “Brandon was a sophomore or junior and was the one kid who came up and thanked me. He stood out as a mature high school student with the sensibility to come up and thank me for what I was doing.”
Both Swain and Chillar are still involved with Carlsbad High School. Last summer they returned to the field to help their former coaches with a football clinic. While they were here they played golf at a benefit tournament, and at The Crossings with Sonkin, who was also their old golf coach. Afterward Sonkin sent a text message to say he looked forward to playing with them the next time they were in town.
“Brandon wrote, ‘Me too, but not till February — do you know what I mean?’” Sonkin knew what he meant. Hopefully he would be tied up with the Super Bowl until Feb. 6.
Sonkin says the men continue to stand out today as they did as students.
“There was something special about them,” he said. “It was the hard work that they put in and continue to put in. They made their own dreams come true.”
McAllister adds, “It sends chills down your body watching kids you’ve coached perform at the highest level.”
McAllister also remains close with both men.
“I’ll send Brett a text message wishing him luck,” he said. “I’ll probably send a text right after the game. I’m sure he’ll stop by when he gets back in town and hopefully show us his Super Bowl ring.”