Prep Notebook : Huskers Move In on Parkinson

Share via

How much does the University of Nebraska football team want Brent Parkinson, Canyon High School’s star offensive lineman?

Consider this: Tom Osborne, head coach of the Cornhuskers, will speak before the Cowboy Touchdown Club, the team’s booster club, tonight at Canyon High.

Parkinson has narrowed the list of schools he is considering attending to USC, University of Washington and Nebraska.


Osborne will speak to the club to make sure Parkinson doesn’t delete Nebraska from his choices. Parkinson’s coach, Harry Welch, had that idea in mind last week.

At the beginning of the football season, Welch informed Nebraska that Parkinson was a player the school should consider recruiting.

During September and October, Nebraska actively pursued the 6-6, 228-pound senior, who was named The Times’ Valley Lineman of the Year after the season.

A press release from the Cowboy Touchdown Club in mid-October compared Welch’s coaching style to Osborne’s. The observation appeared in this column in early November.

Welch sent that clipping to the Nebraska coach along with a note saying he was honored to “be mentioned in the same breath with someone I consider one of the finest coaches in America.”

A few weeks later, Osborne replied with a note to Welch, thanking the Canyon coach for his message. Osborne added: “If you ever have a player you believe could perform at the University of Nebraska, please get in touch with me.”


Welch was flabbergasted.

Last week, when Nebraska assistant George Darlington came to talk to Parkinson, Welch had something to tell him.

“I informed him of my recommendation to Brent and his parents that I would not include the University of Nebraska at the top of the list,” Welch said. “It was my suspicion it might be an assembly line there. The workers do the work, and the man at the top doesn’t know what’s happening.”

Darlington said he would talk to Osborne. Over the weekend, Darlington called Welch.

“He said he talked to Coach Osborne,” Welch said, “and he (Osborne) would like to meet with me, have dinner with me and he would be honored to speak at the booster club meeting.”

On Friday, Parkinson and Aaron Emanuel, an All-American running back from Quartz Hill, will fly back to Nebraska with Osborne for recruiting visits.

Earlier this season, an opposing player described the Polytechnic High School basketball team as a bunch of “pests.”

“They run around with their arms flying in your face,” he said of the Sun Valley team, which has no starter taller than 6-2. “They bug you.”


The player concluded that he would just have to “swat them away” when the two teams met.

The pests have been knocked down several times this season. Lately, however, they have bounced back and caused more and more problems for teams in the East Valley League.

The Parrots went 3-6 in non-league play, at one point losing five straight games. But after Wednesday’s 100-49 victory over Verdugo Hills High, Poly is 5-2 in league and in second place.

“We could possibly be the hot team in the league,” Poly Coach Al Uyemura said. “With a few breaks, we could go through the second round of league undefeated.”

The Parrots cleared a major hurdle to doing that by beating Marshall, ranked 10th in City by The Times, last Friday on the Barristers’ home court.

“That’s a tough place to win at,” Uyemura said. “The walls are extremely close to the sidelines. It’s an old gym and you get a completely different perspective. When you walk in you’re already eight to 10 points down.”

Poly’s 85-73 upset victory moved them into a tie for second with Marshall. The deadlock was broken Wednesday when Van Nuys, which is 7-0 in league, defeated Marshall, 82-79.


“I said earlier that we could knock off one of the good teams, either Van Nuys or Marshall,” Uyemura said. “It was just a matter of us getting our act together.”

It was during the North Hollywood Tournament in December that Uyemura discovered his team had promise.

The Parrots lost to Van Nuys, 69-65, in the opening round after trailing by 20 points at one time. In the next game, Poly lost to Reseda, the two-time defending City 3-A champ, 58-57.

Poly was eliminated from the tournament in two games, but Uyemura said the team proved to him it “could play against teams with a lot greater size.”

The Parrots opened league play with a 64-49 loss at home to Marshall. Then came the 57-point win over Verdugo Hills and a 30-point victory over Birmingham. Poly didn’t shoot well and got blown out by Van Nuys, 76-55, before going three overtimes to defeat Sylmar, 48-40.

“We are not a power team by any means,” Uyemura said. “We rely on our transition game and playing a full-court game. The most trouble we’ve had in league is when we get involved in a half-court game.”


Alex Ruzich, a 6-1 junior forward, is Poly’s leading scorer, at 15 points a game. James Welch is only 6-2, but averages about 10 rebounds a game.

At 6-2, Welch is the tallest player on the team. The other starters are Mark Harkay (6-1), Steve Quan (6-0) and John Larson (6-0). Larson has replaced Mike Anthony, a 6-1 senior who turned an ankle against Sylmar and hasn’t played since. Uyemura is hoping Anthony will be back for next Wednesday’s game with Van Nuys.

The Parrots have survived all year despite their size problems. A few more wins and those pests will be buzzing come playoff time, something Poly hasn’t done since 1981.

Russ Keith is hoping history will repeat itself. Keith, the basketball coach at Burbank, is hoping a pattern his Bulldogs have set the last two seasons will carry them to a league championship.

In 1982-83, Burbank captured the Foothill League championship with an 8-2 record. The Bulldogs went 3-2 in the first half of league play, 5-0 in the second. Last season, Burbank was 1-4 in the first half and 4-1 the second time around.

This season, Burbank went undefeated in the first half of league action. The Bulldogs’ 53-45 win over Burroughs on Tuesday leaves them at 5-0, one game ahead of Schurr.


“In the beginning of the year we talked about making the playoffs,” Keith said. “Now, we’ve refined our goals. We want to win the league.”

The Bulldogs are now looking for two strong rounds. The first would be the final five league games. The second would be the playoffs. Burbank has not advanced past the first round of the playoffs since 1967.

That’s a bit of history Keith doesn’t want to see repeated.

Add Burbank: In last Friday’s game between Hart and Burbank, Hart’s Kevin Honaker sank a 75-foot shot at the end of the first half.

“I told the kids at the half, ‘Hey, there’s nothing we can do about it.’ I told them it was lucky,” Keith said. “In the back of my mind I was thinking, ‘Shoot, I hope that doesn’t make the difference in the game.’ ”

It didn’t, as the Bulldogs won, 48-45, even though Honaker hit a shot from half-court at the end of the game.

“They should put that play in their offense,” Keith said.

Notes After his team defeated El Camino Real, 72-55, last week, Cleveland basketball Coach Greg Herrick was upset. Herrick felt his Cavaliers didn’t play as well as they could have.


El Camino Coach Mike McNulty didn’t see much wrong with Cleveland.

“They wear people down because they rotate so many people in,” he said. “They’re so deep. That’s what hurts the teams in this league.” . . .

Drew Yellen, the head coach for the football and swim teams at Grant High, is resigning at the end of the semester to pursue other interests.