Just when opposing defenses thought it safe to hold back and look for the pass, San Fernando has come up with another tailback prospect.
Like many that preceded him, however, this player didn't make an immediate impact--and Coach Tom Hernandez can be thankful his staff doesn't rely much on first impressions. When Maurice McFarland, a 10th-grader, showed up at a varsity practice two weeks ago, Hernandez's first thought was to place him on the B team. Closer inspection, though, showed McFarland is closer to grade A.
"To tell you the truth, I didn't think much of him at first," Hernandez said with a chuckle. "We were going to send him down."
Once full-contact practices began, however, Hernandez saw a different player. The more Maurice he saw, the better he liked him.
"When we got into the pads, he looked very good, very tough," he said. "And he's one of the faster kids on the team."
Long before hearing of McFarland (5-10, 175), Hernandez had decided to move from the school's traditional wishbone offense to a pass-oriented attack. The long line of Tigers running backs, including Charles White of the Rams and Cal starter Chris Richards, appeared to have run dry.
Now that McFarland is on the scene, however, the Tigers have the option to run again.
"Now I think we can feel confident in going to the running game again if we have to," Hernandez said. "Maurice gives us that capability."
Hernandez said McFarland appeared virtually out of nowhere at San Fernando, a three-year school. "He's from right here in town, we just didn't know he was coming out."
Once McFarland gets used to the offense, he could be a big factor in the team's offense.
"He's coming along pretty well, considering it's all new to him," Hernandez said. "He's picking things up. One thing that makes you like him is that he runs very well with the ball. That's something you can't teach."
McFarland will split time with running backs Danny Leos, William Wimsatt and Brent Huff in the Tiger backfield.
That's sir, to you: You've heard of the Hogs. You've seen the Dogs. Now meet the Studs. That's what Hart's offensive line been dubbed by quarterback Darren Renfro.
"They're all studs," Renfro said, after Hart whipped Canyon, 41-21, to open the season last Friday.
Hart's huge front line includes Brian Jacobs (6-5, 265), Jim Blowers (6-3, 220), Keith Kershaw (6-0, 213) and Ray Gardocki (6-0, 215). Center Joe Schrier (5-10, 190) is "the runt of the litter," according to Coach Rick Scott.
Scott, however, has his own nicknames for his linemen.
"I call a couple of them 'sir,' " he said. "Jacobs is bigger than me. He's 265, maybe 260 after a game. But after a trip to McDonald's on the way home, he's back up to 265."
Fire in his eyes: Exuberance is considered a commendable trait in linebackers. In quarterbacks, however, a somewhat tempered intensity level is more desirable.
So when Westlake Coach George Contreras studied linebacker-turned-quarterback Bob Grandpre in warm-ups Friday night, he knew there might be a slight problem. Too much fire in the guy who fires the passes is a sign of trouble.
"He was so pumped up before the game," Contreras said. "I knew if he had to throw a 60-yard pass it would go 70."
Sure enough, Grandpre misfired on his first few attempts. But by early in the second quarter, a cooler Grandpre completed his first pass--for five yards--to running back Noel Baker, who just as calmly turned it into a 50-yard touchdown play. The Warriors went on to win, 13-12.
The smaller Westlake players were fired up, too. Mike Foster is listed as an offensive guard-linebacker. Foster is only 5-5 and 142 pounds, but the wee Warrior made the block that sprung Baker on a nine-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
Staff writers Vince Kowalick and Tim Brown contributed to this notebook.