The Preps : El Toro Proves It's Worth Visit From the Scouts

Notes on a weekend spent at Oxnard, Mission Viejo and points in between:

El Toro, though from the Southern Conference, is as good as any football team in the Big Five, and therefore probably as good as any in the Southern Section. The Chargers certainly looked the part Thursday night in beating Newport Harbor of Newport Beach at Mission Viejo High, 32-0.

Three two-year starters missed the game because of injuries--including Scott Miller, the Southern Section's leading receiver going into the fifth week--but El Toro didn't miss a beat. Junior quarterback Bret Johnson still passed for 242 yards and 3 touchdowns, No. 2 receiver Chris McCarthy caught two scoring passes, and running back Aly Diaz, who had rushed for 85 yards in the previous three games, replaced the injured Ron Chocklett and was impressive with 113 yards in 13 carries.

Johnson already is a complete high school quarterback, able to throw long or short with a nice touch, an athlete who can stay in the pocket until the last moment or roll out and pass on the run. Between him and Todd Marinovich of Mission Viejo Capistrano Valley, there will be more than a few college recruiters in southern Orange County next year looking for a quarterback.

Marinovich, by the way, surpassed Shane Foley, now at USC, as Orange County's all-time leading passer last Friday against Saddleback of Santa Ana, five games into his junior season. In a 48-7 loss, Marinovich completed 13 of 24 passes for 146 yards, putting his 2 1/2-year yardage total at 5,328. Foley graduated from Newport Harbor last year, but No. 1 target Mark Craig, a 6-foot 6-inch, 200-pound wide receiver with good hands, is a senior and in contention for his second straight All-Central Conference selection.

El Toro's top prospect this year, defensive lineman Scott Spalding, plays both ends, but he may end up in the offensive line in college. He has surprising quickness for a 6-5, 250-pounder. Linebacker Scott Ross is also getting plenty of attention.

Russell White, the much-heralded sophomore running back from Crespi of Encino, may have a great future, but he is already having a great present. He just may deserve every I've-never-seen-anyone-like-him comment made by opposing coaches.

His situation is similar to last year's rise of track star Quincy Watts from Woodland Hills Taft, another San Fernando Valley school. Observers try to keep in mind how much things can change between the sophomore and seniors years, but when you've seen the 15-year-old White hit the holes so quickly, change gears in mid-run so effortlessly and turn upfield on a sweep so smoothly, it's easy to understand why he is getting all this attention.

He did that and more Friday night against Oxnard Santa Clara at Rio Mesa High in Oxnard, finishing with 163 yards and 3 touchdowns in 12 carries.

In a word: Impressive.

Credit, of course, an offensive line that looked great in opening big holes in the Santa Clara line, just as it did to a much bigger Westminster team the previous week. Offensive coordinator Frank Bean, like Celt Coach Bill Redell, is a former USFL assistant.

The showing by the El Monte Arroyo boys' cross-country team last Monday at the Stanford Invitational is enough to give the Knights the unofficial No. 1 ranking in the state, which is even more impressive considering that their first four runners are juniors.

With that in mind, who can't help but look to next year?

"You think about being the best in the state, and that's as exciting as can be," Coach Tim O'Rourke said. "But it's like, 'Let's get this season over.' We want to enjoy this now, but we can't help but get goose bumps thinking about dominating races next season and setting records in races that will last for years."

At Stanford, Arroyo, No. 1 in the Southern Section 3-A, won the team title with depth, the five scoring runners finishing within 31 seconds of one another between 7th and 33rd place. The Knights beat out Casa Roble of Orangevale, Calif., and Bellarmine of San Jose, both of which had defeated Palos Verdes, the top-ranked Southern Section 4-A team, a couple of weeks ago at Fresno.

Chances are good that all four may race at the Mt. San Antonio College Invitational Oct. 25.

David Whitmore of Playa del Rey St. Bernard, one of the top basketball recruits in California, reinjured a bone in his right foot in a pickup game last week and is walking with a cane. No cast, though, just heavy bandages. He is expected back by the time practice begins Nov. 10.

"The orthopedist told him it was a fracture of a bone from a previous fracture," Viking Coach Jim McClune said. "It was like a bad sprain on a bone condition that just never healed."

Whitmore has already visited Notre Dame and has trips scheduled to DePaul and Georgia Tech. Visits are not allowed during the season, according to team rules, and it's undecided whether he will sign in November.

There is a December trip scheduled for the entire team, though, the pre-Christmas Iolani Tournament in Hawaii, which will have a strong field that includes Simi Valley, the Southern Section 4-A runner-up, and national power Flint Hill of Oakton, Va., and star recruit Dennis Scott.

Prep Notes Wilmington Banning has moved up one spot to No. 5 in the latest USA Today national football rankings, and La Puente Bishop Amat went from No. 21 to 20. . . . Bob Woods, who coached football at Santa Ana Mater Dei and Bishop Amat, died recently of cancer at 55. He was at Mater Dei from 1959-72, the last seven seasons as coach when he compiled a 47-15-2 record, then moved to Bishop Amat as an assistant from 1973-85.

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