The Preps : With Washington as a Name, Being First Should Be Easy

Times Staff Writer

The football team at Washington High School that went 4-5 last season opened 1987 with a first-year coach, four returning starters, a tie against a .500 team and an 18-point loss. The Valley Forge connection--just how cold can it get?--was worth noting.

The Generals from Los Angeles looked as if they might be in for a long fall.

So what are they doing now with a 3-1-1 record and playing Palisades today at 2:15 in a game at Washington that could determine the winner of the Crosstown League? Improving, of course.

“This is the youngest and most inexperienced group we’ve had since I have been at Washington,” said Coach Skip Dyer, a B team coach or varsity assistant since 1978. “But they’ve developed so fast.


“It’s been very difficult. You know how it is when the players are used to a certain organization and program. The main thing was to put winning on their minds after being in a losing program.”

Washington’s resurgence is not unlike that of Dyer, a Grambling graduate and former coach in Louisiana’s black high school leagues of the 1950s and ‘60s, the Louisiana Interscholastic Athletic and Literary Organization.

He came to Los Angeles in 1964 and started as the B coach at L.A. Jordan, a post he held until ‘69, when he took over the varsity.

After five years, he left, spending three years as first an assistant then head coach at Southwest Los Angeles College, and then had a one-year stint as an assistant at Occidental in 1976. He was out of coaching the next year and then, in 1978, joined the staff at Washington.

Coming into this season, Dyer, 55, figured that the Generals, who scored 10 points or fewer five times last season and were shut out on three occasions, would win two league games. They’re at one so far, having scored a 28-12 victory over L.A. Manual Arts last week.

Guard Gary Bartholomew, the only returning starter on offense, has done his part, but the glory has gone to a much younger backfield--senior quarterback Manuel Panaina and junior running backs Sam Watson, Tim Brown and Reginald Brookens, especially Watson.


Running from a run-oriented, multiple-formation offense, usually the wishbone, the 6-foot 1-inch, 180-pounder has 485 yards in 42 carries for an 11.5-yard average and 5 touchdowns. That includes three straight 100-yard games, but does not include two touchdowns on punt returns against Los Angeles two weeks ago.

Brown also has a 100-yard game this season and two others of more than 80.

Washington has scored 28 and 34 points in its last two games, but will need a defense today more than anything. Palisades, which has a 3-2 record, is averaging 29.8 points a game and has yet to score fewer than 23. And quarterback Perry Klein is the leading passer in the City at 1,853 yards.

“If we can control the ball, we’ll stay in the game,” Dyer said. “We can’t have our defense on the field all day.”

One of the most anticipated games of the season will be played tonight at 7:30, when Capistrano Valley of Mission Viejo, No. 4 in the Southern Section with a 7-0 record, plays host to El Toro (5-2). The subplot, though they might try to play down the South Coast League rivalry, is Todd Marinovich of Capistrano Valley in competition with Bret Johnson of El Toro. They are two of the best quarterbacks in the state.

Marinovich, who has thrown for 1,538 yards this season, fourth-best in the section, is a drop-back passer and No. 3 on the all-time national list and figures to break the national career record in the regular-season finale.

Johnson, with the added ability of being a very good roll-out passer, sat out four straight games with a knee injury but returned last week and passed for 192 yards and 4 touchdowns in a little more than two quarters of the Chargers’ 52-7 win over San Clemente. Both El Toro losses were suffered without Johnson, 10-7 to El Modena of Orange and 9-7 to Mission Viejo.


Another key game is No. 10 Antelope Valley at No. 8 Palmdale in a game for the top spots in the Golden League and the Coastal Conference. Both have lost once in seven games, Palmdale to No. 2 Crespi and Antelope Valley to No. 3 Loyola. In the City, No. 3 Gardena (4-1) gets its shot at maybe even forcing No. 1 Carson (5-0) into a close game. No one has done that so far.

Prep Notes

Tim Fletcher of Manhattan Beach Mira Costa, an All-Southern Conference wide receiver last season as a junior, figures to miss the rest of the season with stretched ligaments in his left knee, an injury suffered in Week 4 against West Torrance. “It doesn’t look very good,” Mira Costa Coach Herb Hinsche said last week. “We’re hopeful he’ll get back, but it doesn’t look like it. I’m sorry for us, but I’m more disappointed for him.” . . . Los Alamitos has won 6 of 7 games by shutout, including a 14-0 victory over El Dorado of Placentia last Friday. The Griffins have allowed just 10 points this season, all in a 10-7 loss to Tustin in Week 2.

Bolsa Grande of Garden Grove, the defending Central Conference champions, has won its first seven games of 1987 by a combined score of 282-53, and its closest game of the playoffs last year was a 10-point win over Tustin in the quarterfinals. . . . Valley Christian of Cerritos, the defending Inland Conference champion, has rebounded from an 0-4 start to win three straight, including 3-0 in overtime last week over Whittier Christian of La Habra. The three straight victories in Olympic League play have been by a combined 74-0. The Crusaders will play host to Southern California Christian of Anaheim tonight.