It’s the year of the offensive player for college recruiters looking for the top college prospects in Westside high schools. In fact, the area resembles a offensive supermarket.
Need a strong-armed quarterback? Big offensive linemen? Quick running backs? Look no further than the Westside’s 12 City and CIF high schools. The Westside stands for offense, offense and more offense in 1985.
All five of the high school players chosen by Dick Lascola, director of the Fallbrook-based Scouting Evaluation Assn., as the top college prospects in the area are offensive players, representing both CIF and City schools.
Santa Monica quarterback Pat O’Hara and Hamilton offensive lineman Eduardo Vega head the college shopping list. Other possible additions are Beverly Hills quarterback Eric Mueller and teammate Dave Ellis and Fairfax running back Michael Hale.
While other players may turn heads during the season, Lascola looks to these players to interest college scouts.
Although he is seemingly playing in the shadow of All-American quarterback Dan McGwire of Claremont High, Santa Monica’s O’Hara (6-3, 190), receives high praise from Lascola.
“He’s probably one of the better quarterbacks in California,” said Lascola. “He’s a drop-back passer who can throw on the run. He’s got good arm speed, he’s well coached, he’s got mobility. O’Hara will be a dominant force.”
O’Hara was a dominant force last year as a junior. In 1984, the Viking signal-caller passed for 1,976 yards and 23 touchdowns. He was placed on the second team All-CIF and All-Bay League teams.
“There isn’t a quarterback in the state of California I’d trade him for. He’s the best,” said Santa Monica Coach Tebb Kusserow. “He does things other high school quarterbacks can’t do. He’s everything you want.”
While O’Hara might be everything a college scout could want in a prep quarterback, Hamilton’s Vega has what they want in a offensive lineman--size. Vega is 6-6, 285.
“Pass blocking is his strong point. He’s got fairly good feet and is good off the snap of the ball,” Lascola said.
Vega, a second team All-Crosstown League selection last year, has been working on his quickness this summer to improve his pass blocking. Vega is also the kicker/punter for Hamilton.
Mueller and Ellis of Beverly hills are two players Lascola said he will be watching during the early stages of the 1985 season.
Mueller, at 6-4, 205 has a quarterback’s build and threw for 820 yards and 13 touchdowns in seven games for Beverly Hills last year as a junior. Mueller missed the rest of the season after tearing ligaments in his wrist against North Torrance High.
Beverly Hills Coach Bill Stansbury says Mueller, who had surgery during the off-season, is ready for the season. Mueller has been the Beverly Hills starting quarterback since his sophomore year.
“He throws the ball very well and has a good arm. That’s the important thing,” said Stansbury.
Like Vega, size places Ellis almost literally head-and-shoulders above other high school offensive linemen. Ellis is 6-7 and weighs 255 pounds. He has grown two inches during the summer, “and he’s still growing,” Stansbury said.
Ellis, who is the Ocean League shot put champion, may have the size, but Stansbury said he still is adjusting to his large proportions and needs to improve on his quickness and pass blocking.
“He’s got a lot of potential,” said Stansbury. “But when kids are that big, they need a chance to catch up with their body’s growth.”
Speed makes Fairfax’s Hale (5-7, 170) a prospect, Lascola said.
Hale ran for 570 yards and 11 touchdowns in only five games before an injury ended his season.
“He’s a shifty runner, with a good change of direction,” said Lascola.