Valley Preps Captured a Slew of CIF Titles With Marvelous Muir in Front

Times Staff Writer

So it was a good year for athletic teams at Muir High School in Pasadena.

Ho hum.

The Mustangs seem to win major CIF Southern Section championships every year, so it should be no surprise that Muir won two titles during 1986-87.

This time it was Southern Section boys titles in football (Coastal Conference) and track and field (4-A Division). That matched the 1985-86 season when the Mustangs won championships in boys basketball and football.

Toss in the Mustangs' Southern Section girls track and field title in 1985 and Muir is the only San Gabriel Valley school that has won at least one major Southern Section championship in each of the last three years.

Four other valley teams won two championships during 1986-87. Arroyo won the Southeastern Conference football and boys 3-A cross-country titles, San Marino triumphed in boys and girls 3-A tennis, Walnut captured championships in boys 2-A cross-country and girls 2-A track, and Keppel of Alhambra captured boys 3-A wrestling and 3-A co-ed badminton.

However, the continued success of Muir, one of 10 schools in the state nominated for Large School of the Year (4-A and 3-A) by Cal-Hi Sports News of Sacramento, may stand above the rest.

There was historic significance in Muir's resounding 37-0 victory over Antelope Valley in the CIF Coastal Conference championship game last December. Not only did the victory make the Mustangs the first team to win back-to-back Coastal Conference titles, it also extended their win streak to 24 games--the longest active streak in the Southern Section.

It also marked a fitting exit for Muir's longtime coach, Jim Brownfield, who will take a one-year leave of absence from coaching football because of health problems. In 10 years at Muir, Brownfield compiled a brilliant record of 94-22-3.

Leading the way for the Mustangs both years was Ricky Ervins, the running back and All-San Gabriel Valley selection who will attend USC in the fall. Ervins, Muir's all-time leading rusher and a three-year starter, rushed for 1,498 yards and 20 touchdowns and caught 43 passes for 546 yards and 8 touchdowns as a senior.

Perhaps his school's best athlete, Ervins played a role in the Mustang track championship by finishing fourth in the 100-meter dash and competing on the winning 400- and 1,600-meter relay teams.

But the man of the moment for Muir was senior sprinter Corey Ealy, who won the 100 and 200 dashes and ran in both relays to lead the Mustangs to a 62-53 triumph over second-place Hawthorne, the defending champion. Ealy also anchored Muir's winning 400 relay team at the state meet and finished second in the 200 meters and third in the 100 meters, but Hawthorne got its revenge by outdistancing the Mustangs, 34-27, for the state title.

It is also a good time for sports at Arroyo, where the Knights have won at least one Southern Section championship in each of the last three years. In addition to two titles during the 1986-87 season, Arroyo won the girls 2-A softball title last year and the girls 4-A gymnastics championship in 1985.

But the sweetest title of all may have been Arroyo's first football championship last December when the Knights scored a 7-3 win over Victor Valley in the Southeastern Conference finale. Leading the way was running back Fernando Zabala, who rushed for the game's only touchdown. His season totals were 1,411 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Arroyo, one of five schools nominated for state Medium School of the Year (2-A) by Cal-Hi Sports News, also continued its winning tradition in boys cross-country by capturing the Southern Section 3-A title last November behind junior Derrick Powers, who finished fourth in 15:39 over the three-mile course at Mt. San Antonio College. Arroyo, which had captured Southern Section titles in 1982 and 1983, was named the top team in the state by California Track and Running News.

There is no doubt about which school had the best tennis program in the valley this year. San Marino secured that honor by winning both boys and girls titles.

Last November, the Titans won their second consecutive girls 3-A title and fourth in the last five years behind Linda Lee in singles and the doubles teams of Tricia DeSpirito and Caryn Cranston and Sulin Kong and Katie Wood.

San Marino's boys combined the talents of junior Andrew Sheppart and sophomore John Fruttero to defeat Loyola, 12-6, for the 3-A championship two weeks ago. It was the 14th boys tennis title for San Marino but its first since 1978.

It was a memorable year at Keppel and Walnut as both won their first Southern Section titles in two sports. Keppel won in wrestling and co-ed badminton and Walnut in boys cross-country and girls track.

Keppel combined victories by Lupe Jimenez in the 115-pound division, Jorge Villegas at 129, Richard Caballero at 135 and Dante Terramani at 141 to outscore Dos Pueblos, 163-136 1/2, for the 3-A title in February. Keppel added a co-ed badminton title in May with a 13-6 win over Covina in the 3-A finale.

With distance-running standout Scott Hempel leading the way with a second-place finish (15:23), Walnut won the Southern Section 2-A cross-country championship last November. The Mustangs outdistanced Alemany, 40-35, for the girls 2-A track title on the strength of victories by Lisa Vanderburg in the 300-meter low hurdles and Kim Phillips in the shot put.

Pomona did not win a Southern Section title, but the Red Devils are the only valley team that can claim a state championship. Pomona secured its first state title in girls track by outscoring L.A. Dorsey, 30-22, at the state meet in Sacramento.

It was not exactly a team effort, though. Senior Janeene Vickers scored all of her team's points by winning the 100-meter dash and 100- and 300- meter hurdles. It was a fitting climax to a brilliant career for Vickers, who led the Red Devils to 3-A titles in 1984 and 1985 and will run for UCLA next season.

Four other valley teams won their first Southern Section championships. Duarte won the boys 3-A track title, Diamond Bar triumphed in boys 3-A soccer, Maranatha captured girls 1-A cross-country and Mayfield won girls 1-A tennis.

Duarte and Diamond Bar won championships behind outstanding individual performances. Duarte was led by senior sprinter Martin Cannady, who won the divisional 100 and 200 meters for the third consecutive year. Diamond Bar was headed by senior forward Craig Turley, who shattered all-time Southern Section records by scoring 67 goals in the season and 192 in his career.

Cross-town rivals Los Altos and Wilson of Hacienda Heights continued their success in football and swimming.

Los Altos won its first CIF Eastern Conference title by edging Wilson, 14-9, but it was by no means the first championship for the Conquerors or Coach Dwayne DeSpain. Under DeSpain, Los Altos won the 3-A title in 1972, 4-A in 1973 and 1976, Big Five Conference in 1977 and Southern Conference in 1982.

Wilson's victory in the girls 3-A swimming finals was its third under Coach Scott Massey. The Wildcats also won the 3-A title in 1979 and 1984.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World