Former Dorsey and UCLA star is back working for Rams

The Rams and four high schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District -- Crenshaw, Eagle Rock, Fairfax and San Fernando -- are joining together for a pilot program that could spread to more high schools.

The Los Angeles Rams-LAUSD Academic Challenge will have the four high school football teams competing to finish the semester with the highest cumulative grade-point average.

The winning team will be given a $2,500 equipment grant from the Rams, and the players will be invited to a future Rams game.

Former Dorsey and UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin, the team’s director of community and external football affairs, will be coming to Eagle Rock on Thursday to talk to players. Rams players also could be making appearances at the four high schools.

“We’re encouraging kids to not just compete on the field but also in the classroom,” Franklin said.

The principal, assistant principal, athletic director and head coach at each school had to sign off on the program, so they are invested and accepting responsibility, along with players. The Rams will be providing academic binders for each student. Teams will be selecting five academic captains.

"I think it's awesome," Eagle Rock Coach Andy Moran said. "The players are pretty fired up. It's something to focus on other than winning. Study skills last a lifetime."

If all goes well, Franklin said the program could be expanded to more schools next season. The LAUSD picked the schools participating.

  • Basketball

Pasadena point guard Darius Brown has committed to CSUN. He’s one of the first top recruits for first-year Coach Mark Gottfried.

Brown played alongside Bryce Hamilton, who’s headed to UNLV.

Brendan Harrick from Esperanza has also committed to CSUN.

  • Baseball

Mission Viejo’s Spillane brothers, Luke and Jake, deserve a nice steak dinner from their parents after they helped the Diablos knock off No. 1 El Toro 3-2 in a South Coast League game on Friday.

Luke went three for three. Jake struck out four and scattered nine hits in 5 2/3 innings. Kevin Champlin got the save with 1 1/3 innings shutout relief. Erik Tolman threw six innings for El Toro. Mission Viejo scored the winning run in the seventh on an RBI double by Alex Jemal.

Thousand Oaks pulled out a dramatic 5-4 Marmonte League win over Agoura on a three-run walk-off home run by Garrett Flynn. That came after Nico Della Ripa hit a grand slam in the top of the seventh for a 4-2 Agoura lead.

  • Football

Sergio Villasenor has been named football coach at L.A. Wilson.

He replaces Eddie Martinez, who is retiring after 27 seasons.

Villasenor was an assistant at Wilson in the 1990s and was defensive coordinator when Wilson won a City Section 3A championship in 1996.



El Rancho 1, California 0


The Southern California Regional basketball finals on Saturday will include three City Section teams trying to reach Sacramento — Birmingham, Van Nuys and View Park Prep.

No. 6 seed View Park is considered the team with the best chance to advance. The Knights are 25-8 and set to play No. 13 seed El Cajon Christian at 6 p.m. at Price in Division IV. Having faced the pressure of playing such Coliseum League teams as Crenshaw, Dorsey and Fremont, View Park should be in good position to prevail.

No. 7 Van Nuys is in its first regional final, facing No. 1-seeded Santa Clarita Christian at 6 p.m. at Master’s in Division V. Tyree Winborn has been a consistent scorer for the Wolves.

  • Track
Sherman Oaks Notre Dame junior runs 11.03 100 meters

Sprinters are hardly in shape right now. They’re just starting to loosen up the muscles and turn on the speed.

For Sherman Oaks Notre Dame junior Christian Grubb, Thursday’s Mission League meet against Loyola offered a chance to face off against fellow football player Alex Johnson, a senior headed to UCLA to play cornerback.

Grubb won the 100 meters in 11.03 seconds. Johnson, who anchored his 400-meter relay team to victory, finished second in 11.23. Both should be among the favorites for the league title in the sprints.

  • Baseball

A competitive Sunset League began baseball action Thursday, and Marina came away with a 2-0 win over Edison.

Blake Partis was magnificent on the mound, throwing a complete game with zero walks while scattering five hits. Cory Lewis and Braden Wylde each had RBIs. Lucas Hansen allowed two hits in 5 2/3 innings for Edison.

Huntington Beach defeated Newport Harbor 8-6. Josh Hahn struck out seven in four innings. Justin Brodt had two hits and three RBIs.

Chaminade acquired a shopping center near campus.
Chaminade acquired a shopping center near campus. (Mark Holtzman / West Coast Aerial Photography)

West Hills Chaminade has acquired a shopping center near its high school campus off Saticoy Street and Woodlake Avenue for $14 million, school president Rob Webb said Thursday. The 4.8-acre parcel is one of last in the area that has not been developed for residential use. It currently contains 16 businesses.

No final decision has been made about what  the school will do with the land, but it could be used for parking, more classrooms and additional facilities.

“For us, yesterday we were a debt-free organization,” Webb said. “Today we aren’t. A big chunk came from capital reserves. It’s an exciting time. Schools are landlocked in this neighborhood and for us to find a parcel that became available for the first time in 50 years is transformational.”

  • Basketball

Etiwanda started the basketball season unranked in The Times’ top 25 rankings (who’s the person responsible for that foolish oversight?), but the Eagles are following the philosophy it’s not how you start but how you finish. They are one win away from a trip to Sacramento to play for the state Open Division championship.

At 30-3, Etiwanda will face talented Sierra Canyon on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Long Beach State in the Southern California Regional final.

In making the preseason rankings, I failed to take into account that Coach Dave Kleckner really was fully committed after briefly retiring after last season.



Alhambra 10, Keppel 0