One glance at The Times' All-San Gabriel Valley teams in recent years will tell you that it has been a pretty good decade for high school football talent in the valley.
And the decade is only half over.
Starting with The Times' all-star team of 1980 that included such standouts as running back Fred Crutcher of Blair, wide receiver Doug Allen of Baldwin Park and running back Ron Brown of Muir, there has been an abundance of players who have gone on to star for colleges this decade.
Perhaps the most successful player of the 1980 team has been Crutcher, who is a senior tailback for USC.
As a high school senior, Crutcher produced impressive figures in leading the CIF Southern Section in rushing. He rushed for 1,666 yards and 24 touchdowns in 211 carries and was the subject of a heavy recruiting battle.
After choosing USC, Crutcher has found good success at the college level. He rushed for 621 yards and 6 touchdowns as a senior for the Trojans and ranks No. 7 on USC's career rushing yardage list with 2,815.
Two other standouts from the 1980 all-San Gabriel Valley squad were Allen, who concluded a brilliant career as a wide receiver at Arizona State last season, and Brown, a senior halfback at Colorado who is one of the leaders in a successful wishbone backfield for the Buffaloes.
The success of both players is not surprising, considering their play in high school. Brown, who has 4.4-second speed in the 40-yard dash and is considered a solid pro prospect, had rushed for 1,359 yards as a senior at Muir and starred at defensive back, and the speedy Allen gained a reputation as a big-play receiver.
Another standout from the 1980 all-valley team was Bob Jastrab of Edgewood High, who made the first team as a senior in high school as a defensive lineman. After graduating from Edgewood, Jastrab developed into a major-college lineman at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut and the college senior is playing for the highly regarded University of Miami as a reserve offensive lineman.
Among the top college players from the 1981 All-San Gabriel Valley squad have been Ron Brown of Bishop Amat, Fred Gaddis of Garey, Steve Lauter of Los Altos and Rob Healy of Arcadia.
Brown, a junior who has seen considerable playing time as a linebacker for USC, was named The Times' San Gabriel Valley lineman of the year in 1981 and he is starting to match his high school credentials.
In high school, Brown was one of the top pass rushers in the valley as a senior, logging 10 quarterback sacks, thanks in part to his 9.8-second speed in the 100-yard dash.
Gaddis has been a standout as a defensive lineman for Arizona State, Lauter has been a top defensive back for San Diego State and Healy is the second-string quarterback for Army.
All three players had outstanding prep careers, although Lauter may have been noted more for his pass-catching ability as a senior at Los Altos with 62 catches for 1,188 yards and 19 touchdowns.
Top players from the 1982 all-valley squad include running backs Tom Henley of Damien and Pernell Taylor of Bishop Amat and lineman Mike Favreau and linebacker David Simpson, both from Ganesha.
Henley, who has started at halfback as a junior for Stanford, may be the most successful of the 1982 all-stars thus far. He was one of the top rushers in the valley as a senior at Damien with 1,284 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Taylor, who rushed for 1,228 yards as a senior at Bishop Amat, got considerable playing time as a sophomore running back at Notre Dame this season.
Lineman of Year
Favreau, who was named the Times lineman of the year for 1982, is a second-string offensive tackle at UC Berkeley, and Simpson, who was considered one of the top prospects in Southern California as a prep senior, is a second-string linebacker at UCLA. Both are sophomores.
Perhaps the best crop of valley players in the first half of this decade was in 1983, when the Times all-stars included quarterback Mark Hatcher of Muir, running back Darryl Harris of Garey, wide receiver Jo Jo Collins of Pomona, defensive back Darryl Henley of Damien and lineman Majett Whiteside of Ganesha.
Hatcher, an outstanding sprinter in high school who also passed for more than 2,000 yards as a senior, has put his running talents to good use as starting quarterback in Colorado's wishbone offense, and Collins, another speedster, is starting at wide receiver and returning punts and kicks for the Buffaloes. Both are sophomores.
Another standout from the 1983 squad is Whiteside, a second-year freshman nose guard for UC Berkeley who was recently named honorable mention All-American. Whiteside, who led the Pacific 10 Conference in quarterback sacks this season, also made second team all-conference.
Henley, a second-year freshman, has been a part-time starter at defensive back for UCLA, and Harris, who earned prep All-American status and rushed for 1,541 yards and 18 touchdowns as a senior at Garey, has seen considerable playing time as a sophomore running back at Arizona State.
Most of the top players from last year's group of all-stars were redshirted in their first year in college. However, there was one noteworthy exception.
Rich Gonzales of Diamond Bar, who started the season as the No. 6 quarterback at Oregon State, moved his way quickly to the top of the Beaver depth chart largely because of injuries to other quarterbacks. Gonzales turned in one of his best performances of the season in Oregon State's stunning upset of Washington.
Former Pasadena star Cleo Bates, who rushed for 1,608 yards and 15 touchdowns as a senior, has seen sporadic playing time as a freshman halfback in Colorado's wishbone attack.
Will the 1980s continue to be a good decade for talent in the valley?
If this year's senior crop is any indication, the outlook appears promising. Quarterback Dan McGwire of Claremont and running back J. J. Flannigan of Pomona are considered among the top college prospects in the nation.
There are also outstanding juniors such as running backs Eric Bieniemy of Bishop Amat, Ricky Ervins of Muir and Eric Henley of Damien--the last of three Henley brothers to star at Damien--who figure to be among the most sought-after players next season.