When it was over, Kraig Washington hardly looked like the star player for a team that had just won its season opener. His coach, Terry Roche, raised his head to the bright sunshine and heaved a sigh of relief.
You’ll have to excuse the Diamond Bar Brahmas for feeling a little overwhelmed with Saturday’s 14-9 win over Nogales. They’re kind of new at these down-to-the-wire finishes, when the other team gets the ball 30 yards away from the go-ahead touchdown with 4 1/2 minutes to play--but isn’t able to score.
“It started to get scary at the end,” Washington, a three-year starter, said. “Things kept happening and happening because it seemed like every time they had the ball they would put together a drive. We had some opportunities, but we didn’t take advantage of them.”
That is something Diamond Bar didn’t have to worry about much last season, which is why this game was noteworthy. For one thing, the closest anyone got to the Brahmas in 1984 was 14 points, by Duarte, and that was in the quarterfinals of the playoffs.
Another thing. Twenty-three points?
For the whole game?
Both teams combined?
The Brahmas of old rode roughshod over any opponent, whether it was in the Southeastern Conference final against a team with a 12-0 record or in the middle of the Hacienda League schedule against a team on its way to an 0-10 record.
They started out the season with scores of 37-0, 34-0 and 45-0, threw in a 50-0, a 66-0 or a 57-0 here and there, and by midseason had people reaching for the record books to check out the season scoring mark.
They ended up routing that, too. The state record of 580 points, held by the 1969 Pasadena Blair team that had James McAlister and Kermit Johnson in the same backfield, fell easily as Diamond Bar ended with 639.
Roche gathered his thoughts after the close game Saturday, considered games coming up against La Serna and Pasadena, which was 9-1 in ’84, and wanted to get one thing straight: Only four starters are back from the record-setting team, so don’t expect more of the same.
“All that’s ancient history,” he said. “This is a new group of kids. We made a lot of mistakes. Let’s call it a character builder.
“We’re young. And we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Washington, a running back, and quarterback Rich Gonzales, who signed with Oregon State, got most of the attention from last season’s team, but did you know that the Brahmas also set a Southern Section record for interceptions with 51?
That broke the previous record of 43 by La Mirada Neff in 1974, a school that has since closed.
Max Emfinger of the Houston-based National High School Football Magazine waited until last Wednesday night to pick his preseason All-American team, and the surprise for local talent is that Long Beach Poly’s Mark Carrier is not among the country’s top four defensive backs. That goes against what many other scouts and publications have been saying.
Emfinger also said that although 1984 was a bit of a down year for talent in California, compared to the rest of the country, that has changed this season.
“This year looks exceptional for talent in the whole state,” he said. “More than anything, there will be better line prospects--we’re talking Division I people--than any other place in the country.”
He rates five state linemen on his first team and another, Stacy Elliot of Long Beach Poly, on the second team. That means that six of the top 66 players on his list from the country are linemen from California.
The first-teamers: Lance Zeno of Fountain Valley, Dennis Brown of Long Beach Jordan, Nigel Clay of Fontana, Tim Ryan from San Jose and Mike Kohlmoos from Visalia.
Emfinger also put Claremont’s Dan McGwire on the first team as one of the top three quarterbacks, and Pomona running back J.J. Flannigan on the second team.
Add preseason picks: With the added importance of the summer camps and tournaments, and the early November signing date, high school basketball really has become a year-round game. So is should not be surprising that Bob Gibbons of All-Star Sports in North Carolina has come out with his top 100 seniors, a couple of months before the season begins.
J.R. Reid, a 6-foot 10-inch forward-center from Virginia Beach (Va.) Kempsville, is rated No. 1, with 6-3 Stevie Thompson of Crenshaw sixth, 6-8 Chris Munk of San Francisco Riordan eighth and 6-10 Scott Williams of Hacienda Heights Wilson 10th.
The City and Southern Section are well represented through the rest of the lineup, with Clifford Allen of Carson 15th, Earl Duncan of Santa Monica St. Monica 21st, Trevor Wilson of Reseda Cleveland 24th, Stacy Augman of Pasadena Muir 28th, Bob Erbst of Anaheim Katella 48th, Kevin Walker of Brea-Olinda 66th, Bryant Walton of Santa Ana Saddleback 75th, and Stuart Thomas of Santa Ana Mater Dei 79th.
Bob Holtel, track and cross-country coach at West Torrance for 16 years and now a physical education instructor at the school, spent his summer vacation fulfilling a dream.
Holtel, 54, started July 10 at the Mexican border and ran an average of 24 miles a day before reaching Donner Pass near Lake Tahoe on Sept. 5, 1,055 miles later. He plans to pick up his three-stage tour there next summer and run 1,100 miles to the Columbia River in Washington, then resume in 1987 and complete the journey by going from Washington to British Columbia.
Prep Notes Bad news for seventh-ranked Hacienda Heights Los Altos. The Conquerors’ top player, according to Coach Dwayne DeSpain, running back Jim Jastrab, is out for the season with a broken ankle. And next up is La Puente Bishop Amat, The Times’ No. 3 team. . . . Doug France, the former all-pro offensive lineman with the Rams, is now an assistant coach at Westminster La Quinta. . . . Former USC and L.A. Express quarterback Mike Rae is an assistant at Trabuco Hills of Mission Viejo. . . . Courtney Hall, an All-City pick at center last season with Banning, started Saturday for Rice against Miami (Fla.) in a game won by the Hurricanes, 48-20. Just 17, Hall was impressive enough in preseason drills that Coach Watson Brown was able to move last year’s starting center, Jim Simpson, to guard. . . . The game of the week on Channel 56 Friday night at 10 and Saturday morning at 8 will have Orange El Modena, coming off a big win over Huntington Beach Edison, meeting Anaheim Esperanza in a rematch of the Southern Conference championship game of last season, won by El Modena. Times’ Top 10
Through Games of Sept. 15 SOUTHERN SECTION
No. School, League Record 1. LB Poly, Moore 0-0-0 2. Fontana, Citrus Belt 1-0-0 3. Bishop Amat, Angelus 1-0-0 4. Riverside Poly, Citrus Belt 1-0-0 5. Claremont, Baseline 1-0-0 6. El Modena, Century 1-0-0 7. CC Canyon, Golden 1-0-0 8. Los Altos, Sierra 1-0-0 9. Fountain Valley, Sunset 1-0-0 10. Santa Monica, Bay 0-0-0