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THE PLAYERS : Servite’s Brown Stands Out From the Rest Among This Season’s Best of the Best

Times Staff Writer

Whaddya want? Trends or players?

That’s what we thought.

THE FIVE BEST

Derek Brown, running back, Servite: This is what you should know about Derek Brown. When he and Russell White of Crespi were wearing a path in the Glover Stadium turf--they combined for 470 yards and 7 touchdowns--one awe-struck spectator muttered, “These guys can do anything.” For Brown, last season, that translated into 1,080 yards, 23 receptions and 15 touchdowns. He’s the best running back in Orange County. Jerry Person, Servite coach, compares him to Darren Nelson, now of the Minnesota Vikings, who Person blocked for when both attended Pius X High in Downey. “Darren and Derek are the type who will go into a pack, then break out and they’re gone. It’s catch me if you can. I don’t think there are many people who are going to catch Derek. . . . I don’t think there are any.”

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Garrett Greedy, linebacker, Servite: Greedy and Mike Petko were the best tandem of linebackers last season. Petko wore a head band and danced after every other tackle. He caught fans’ attention. Greedy made a lot of tackles and walked off the field. He caught coaches’ attention. Andy Szabatura, Bishop Montgomery coach, searching for superlatives to describe a young linebacker, gave the ultimate: “He reminds me of a young Garrett Greedy.” Servite Coach Person says Greedy is the most dedicated, no-nonsense player he has been around. “Garrett is strictly football.” So strict that when there was some question about his quickness, Greedy went out this summer and worked off 15 pounds. He’s now 6-feet 3-inches and 215 pounds. Which may mean Greedy will end up in the defensive backfield in college. For now, he’s the best linebacker in these parts.

David Henigan, quarterback, Fountain Valley: Henigan and Fountain Valley floundered in their first five games, scoring 34 points and going 1-4. Then came nine straight victories and a trip to the Big Five final. With Henigan leading the way, Fountain Valley averaged 34 points a game in the playoffs. Henigan operated Fountain Valley’s ball-control, short-passing attack like a pro. He didn’t throw an interception during the playoffs. He completed 57.5% of his passes in the regular season, but his overall quarterback rating was low because he averaged only 11 yards per completion and threw for only four touchdowns. Word is those numbers will increase dramatically this season as he is allowed to air the ball out. Henigan led Fountain Valley to a 21-0 record in this summer’s 32-team El Camino College passing league.

Todd Norman, offensive/defensive lineman, Ocean View: Norman is 6-6, 250 and there are some who think he’s malnourished. His coach, Guy Carrozzo, says Norman could easily put on 25 pounds. There are a lot of things Todd can do. Last season, he played tight end and was was an All-Sunset League linebacker. This season, he’ll play offensive guard and defensive end. The basic thinking here is that you can play Norman just about anywhere and things figure to work out. “We’ve had some excellent athletes at this school,” Carrozzo said. “But he’s in another class. It’s rare you get a guy of his size who can do all things he can do.” He also averaged 18 points for the basketball team.

Dana Ripley, quarterback/linebacker, Santiago: And speaking of versatility . . . Ripley made a name for himself last season, and probably will in college, as a linebacker. He had 109 tackles and was named All-Garden Grove League at that position. But consider, that as Santiago’s quarterback, he completed as many passes (78) as Los Alamitos’ highly touted Todd Gragnano. He had a higher rating than Henigan, and a higher completion percentage than Mission Viejo’s Troy Kopp. Does this mean he’s as good or better than these guys? Nope. Does it mean he has the physical ability and savvy to pickup skills quickly? Yes. Thirty colleges made the pilgrimage to Santiago’s spring practice to oogle at Ripley’s 6-4, 220-pound body. “He has all the athletic ability in the world,” Mike Barron, Santiago coach, said.

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THE CLASS OF ’90

Coy Collins, running back, Loara: Sitting in the ashes of a 1-4 Empire League season, Collins uttered these words, “There’s a lot of teams around that are going to pay for this season for the next couple years.” And Collins is just the guy to collect. As a sophomore, he rushed for 799 yards in only 8 games. He averaged six yards every time he carried the ball. “He’s very explosive,” Herb Hill, Loara coach, said. “We haven’t coached a running back like this for a while, if ever. We’ve had guys run fast in a straight line, but no one that can start and stop and change directions like Coy. He’s got a gift.”

Todd Gragnano, quarterback, Los Alamitos: As a sophomore, Gragnano stepped in to help lead Los Alamitos to the Southern Conference final. He completed 57% of his passes for 1,136 yards and 7 touchdowns. Exceptionally quick, Gragnano has the ability to throw on the run. One very distinct advantage he had over other young quarterbacks last season was having an exceptional team around him. “He didn’t have to carry a big load,” John Barnes, Los Alamitos coach, said. This season, expect Gragnano to take on significantly more. He’s bulked up to 180 pounds.

Tim Manning, safety, Trabuco Hills: They knew he was good. But 10 interceptions? “You’re just hoping a kid that young isn’t going to screw up,” Jim Barnett, Trabuco Hills coach, said. “But you don’t expect 10 interceptions out of a senior. Manning isn’t going to break any 100-yard dash records, but he is quick. By the time he’s taken his second step, he’s running at full speed.” Manning played cornerback last season, but will move to free safety. He’ll also play a little more at wide receiver. He made 15 receptions, last season, 4 for touchdowns.

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Damon Psaros, defensive lineman, Capistrano Valley: Damon seems like a nice enough guy. Polite, well spoken. So why is it his own coaches are afraid of him? “We don’t like putting our own players up against him,” Ray Panici, Capistrano Valley offensive coordinator, said. “We just can’t block him.” Psaro was named All-South Coast first team last season. He’s not necessarily huge, about 200 pounds. But he has tremendous leg drive, is very quick and has excellent technique. It also doesn’t hurt that, as Panici says, “Damon is a mean kid,” once on the field.

Oscar Wilson, defensive lineman, Santa Ana: He outgrew freshmen football when he broke several opponents’ bones. He’s a big-time, big-play player who runs all over the field. He probably was the best defensive linemen in the Century League last season. So why was Oscar not included on the All-Century League team when the coaches made their selections? Wilson is extremely quick, and might be the county’s best pass rusher. A starter on the varsity basketball team last season, he can also play tight end, but will make his name hitting other people.

THE VERY BEST OF THE REST

QUARTERBACK:

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Greg Angelovic (Edison)--Playing in a tough situation (Edison was 2-8), Angelovic completed 118 of 235 passes for 1,324 yards and 6 touchdowns. With Edison looking good this season, Angelovic should look even better.

Troy Kopp (Mission Viejo)--His solid performance helped the Diablos to a surprising South Coast league title. Though he attempted a relatively few amount of passes (147) he threw 9 for touchdowns.

Al Razo (La Habra)--The Freeway League’s best quarterback played wide receiver last season. He’s a good passer, exceptional runner, plays a mean defensive back and also punts. That’s a full day.

Jason Neben (Orange Lutheran)-- The running quarterback this season. Neben rushed 1,090 yards last season and passed for 792.

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Fred Schweer (Woodbridge)--After starting quarterback Eric Brougher went down early in the season, Schweer took over and helped lead Woodbridge to the Desert-Mountain Conference title. He passed for 1,163 yards in 10 games.

Others to Watch: Bobby Elliott (Westminster) ; Rod McCall (Rancho Alamitos) ; Scott McMahon (Orange) ; Pete Montera (Kennedy) ; Chad Marlow (Brea-Olinda) .

RUNNING BACK:

Steve DePhillips (Fullerton)--One of the best big backs in the county, DePhillips also has an ample amount of speed. He had four runs of 90 yards or more last season. He rushed for nearly 900 yards.

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Eric Ekdahl, (Mission Viejo)--Another do-everything guy. Ekdahl 496 yards and scored 7 touchdowns last season. Mission Viejo will want to get him the ball as often as possible. He’ll also play in the secondary and kick. He kicked six field goals last season, the longest kick a 47-yarder.

Keef Leasure (Valencia)--Another in a line of exceptional running backs produced under Mike Marrujo. Leasure averaged more than seven yards a carry during the regular season, and he scored 17 touchdowns.

John Mountain (Anaheim)--Even with runners such as Brown and Leasure around, Mountain, then of Foothill, led all underclassmen backs with 1,226 yards during the regular season. He is reunited with Ted Mullen, former Foothill coach, at Anaheim.

Tom Walker (Newport Harbor)--Another big back. Walker stepped in to the void left when starter Scott Morency was sidelined with an ankle injury and rushed for nearly 900 yards.

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Others to watch: Mike Belle (Irvine) ; Lance Brown (Esperanza) ; Robert Clifford (Mater Dei) ; Jason Cherms (La Quinta) ; Aaron Cobb (Tustin) ; Garner Hicks (Santa Ana) ; Rudy Motley ( Santiago) ; David Nemeth (El Toro) ; Kelvin Pickering (Saddleback) ; Chris Shockley (Pacifica) ; John Rios (Woodbridge) ; Randy Roskelly (Valencia) ; Gary Smarr (Univeristy) .

RECEIVERS:

Sean Drinkwater (El Toro)--When Bret Johnson went down last season, so did Drinkwater’s statistics. He didn’t catch a pass in the three games Johnson missed with a knee injury. He’s the El Toro big-play guy, averaging 18.5 yards per reception.

Oscar Ford (Servite)--Outstanding speed that sometimes gets lost in a pattern. Ford made 24 receptions last season, but was Servite’s second option behind Jason Rees. This season he’ll be numero uno.

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Greg Hansell (Kennedy)--One of a couple of big, big receivers for the Fighting Irish. Hansell, also an exceptional linebacker, is 6-5, 215. An outstanding athlete, Hansell will earn nine letters (four in baseball, three in football, two in basketball) at Kennedy.

Tony Pena (Mater Dei)--Dependable if unspectacular, Pena is a ball-control receiver in the Mater Dei tradition of Jim O’Brien. He caught 28 passes last season. Given Mater Dei’s penchant to pass, he’ll catch that many, at least, this season.

Patrick Reilly (Edison)--Playing on a 2-8 team, Reilly caught 35 passes for nearly 400 yards. He was so valuable a receiver, that he accounted for nearly a third of Edison’s passing yards.

Others to watch:

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Mike Arroyos (Saddleback); Eric Ciderstaff (Mission Viejo); Mike Cook (Fountain Valley); Julius Fletcher (Santa Ana) ; John Priem (Villa Park) ; Jeff White (Sunny Hills) .

TIGHT END:

Tom Deep (Kennedy)--Another big target from Kennedy, Deep is 6-5 and 255 pounds. Last season, his first of competitive football, he caught 35 passes.

Jason Park (Southern California Christian)--Playing at little SCC (enrollment: 270), Park doesn’t get a lot of attention. Unless you’re a college scout. Then his 6-5, 250-pound frame tends to stick in your mind. Used mainly as a blocking back last season, he’ll be used as a receiver much more this season.

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Brian Ryder (Edison)--Second on his team with 21 receptions, Ryder is a good blocker who has bulked up to 220 pounds. He also has the speed to break free after he catches a pass.

Julio Vargas (Santa Ana)--Vargas is one of Santa Ana’s best athletes. Given the mother lode of talent Santa Ana has, that’s saying something. Vargas (6-2, 225) is an outstanding blocker on the field and at the plate. He’s a professional prospect at catcher.

Others to watch: Ted Haberfield (San Clemente) ; John Cummings (El Modena) ; Eric Sassenberg (Fountain Valley); Van Tunei (Westminster) .

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN:

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Pete Ashby (Mission Viejo)--Ashby is not huge, 6-1, 215, but has good technique and strength. Was picked all-South Coast League first team as a junior.

Glenn Christy (Fountain Valley)--Almost incredibly, Fountain Valley has had seven straight centers named to the All-Sunset League team. Mike Milner, Fountain Valley coach, says Christy may very well be the best.

Brandon Douglas (Valencia)--Every season, Valencia has a 1,000-yard rusher because every year Valencia has some very good linemen. Douglas (6-1, 225) is the sole returner on the offensive line and the best the Tigers have.

Craig Gibson (El Modena)--Cut from a decent cloth, brothers Boomer (formerly of Arizona) and Don (currently at USC) preceded him at El Modena. Gibson is 6-3, 235.

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Wade Hogg (Troy)--OK, no jokes. It’s pronounced Hoag. He’s the biggest (6-6, 265) and the best on a very big and very good line.

Rick Pallow (Mater Dei)--Pallow is part of an offensive line that averages 260 pounds. Interestingly, he’s the smallest member at 6-3, 245. Size isn’t everything.

Dain Mangall (Newport Harbor)--Your basic short and stocky bruiser. Mangall (5-11, 230) will looking even shorter playing next to 6-7, 275-pound Ian Long.

Others to watch: Eric Buzzone (SCC); Jorge Dela Cruz (Santa Ana Valley); Matt Elliott (Troy); Mike Goodman (Woodbridge); Jim Hastie (Costa Mesa); Chris Lippincott (Edison); Sean Parks (Mission Viejo); Raphael Molle (Irvine); Marko Rogan (University) ; Brian Turk (Mater Dei) .

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DEFENSIVE LINEMEN:

Kevin Ashworth (Pacifica)--A good athlete--he’s also an exceptional tight end--Ashworth has the speed to get to quarterbacks in a hurry.

Darren Gallaway (Servite)--Another part-time tight end, Gallaway (6-4, 220) and Garrett Greedy make Servite one of the best defensive teams in the county.

Lua Pola (Mater Dei)--Extremely physical, Pola does a great job of penetrating from his nose guard position. A three-year starter, Pola is 5-10, 240.

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Jason Uhl (Mater Dei)--Though the offensive line averages 260 pounds and gets a ton of attention, Uhl is probably Mater Dei’s best lineman. Another three-year starter, Uhl is 6-4, 240.

Miguel Ochoa (Saddleback)--Another in a long line of quick Saddleback linemen, Ochoa is the key returner to a defense that recorded four shutouts last season.

Matt Werner (Esperanza)--Strong? Werner (6-5, 240) won a dead-lift competition over the summer by lifting 600 pounds. In the same competition, he bench pressed 300 pounds and squated 460 pounds.

Others to watch: Damon Bland (Santa Ana); Eric Bolton (Dana Hills); Brian Tomazic (El Dorado); Sean Donohue (El Dorado); David Golden (Laguna Beach); P.A. Emerson (Woodbridge); Michael Seui (Westminster) .

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LINEBACKERS:

John Kastovich (Corona del Mar)--John’s brother, Todd, was the Sea View League’s defensive player of the year last season. John has the range, size (6-2, 220) and aggressive nature to make it two in a row for the family.

Scott Parrish (Pacifica)--Parrish is one of the key returners to a defense that held eight regular-season opponents to eight points or less. Parrish (6-2, 215) also will play on the offensive line.

Joe Pastorello (Katella)--Pastorello (6-0, 190) was a big reason Katella enjoyed its best season in 20 years last season. Pastorello is fast, which accounts for the fact he’ll also be playing running back.

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Ki Soo Lim (Irvine)--Playing alongside David Webb, one of the county’s best, last season meant Ki tended to be overlooked. This even though he played almost on the same plane with Webb. His coach, Terry Henigan, claims Ki is the strongest player Irvine has ever had.

Eric Thompson (Los Alamitos)--Another guy who suffered from a major shadow. This one was cast by linebacker Roger Roadstrom. Thompson (6-3, 220) is a ball-hawker in the Roadstrom mold.

Others to watch: Penn Bushong (Mission V iejo ) ; Jamie Hutcherson (La Habra) ; Jason Gold (Anaheim) ; Steve Melkerson (El Dorado) ; Rob Milo (Laguna Hills) ; Eric Shimomura (Bolsa Grande) ; Steve Rangel (Valencia) ; Tad Weedman (El Toro) ; Anthony Wiggins (Santa Ana Valley) ; Mike Yurkovich (Woodbridge) .

DEFENSIVE BACKS:

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Estrus Crayton (Santa Ana)--Crayton will have to go a ways to duplicate the feat of Santa Ana’s Rob Fanti, who intercepted 10 passes last season. Crayton is an outstanding athlete, who speed figures to stifle other teams’ deep threats.

Rick Mock (Fountain Valley)--Mock is the cream of a secondary that returns three players. He intercepted five passes and blocked five kicks.

Guy Sheppard (Valencia)--Sheppard is a key holdover from a defense that held eight opponents to 10 points or fewer last season. Sheppard’s part in that included eight interceptions.

Tom Wilson (Troy)--Wilson figures to be named All-Freeway League for the third straight season. He had five interceptions. This season, he’ll also play wide receiver.

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Others to watch: Robert Aldaz (Anaheim); Todd Delnoce (Foothill); Julius Fletcher (Santa Ana); Trey Frank (El Modena); Mark Hartley (Estancia); Andy Thompson (Huntington Beach); Winston Wolf (Los Alamitos).

KICKERS:

Mike Ammann (Mater Dei)--Ammann scored 50 points, including 8 field goals, last season.

Jason Crabbe (Laguna Beach)--An all-Pacific League kicker as a junior, Crabbe kicked a 53-yard field goal against Costa Mesa.

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Derek Mahoney (Fountain Valley)--Dependable, with excellent range, Mahoney is another component of the high-scoring Fountain Valley machine.

Phil Nevin (El Dorado)--Nevin kicked 11 field goals, including several from more than 50 yards out.

Others to watch: Tim Hatcher (El Modena) ; Jim Roberson (University); Beto Zavala (Saddleback).


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