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The High Schools : Defense Undermining Kennedy

Sometime during last Friday’s game against Taft, Kennedy Coach Bob Francola realized that his defense was about as difficult to puncture as a beer can. Then he started hearing voices.

“I kept hearing my dad’s voice over my shoulder,” Francola cracked. “He was telling me I should have gone into aluminum siding.”

Kennedy was certainly no iron curtain on defense, allowing 405 yards in a 34-7 loss. “We were getting beat badly off the ball,” Francola said. “It was a big-time spanking. It was kind of grim.”

Kennedy has allowed 1,361 yards (292.2 average), worst among Valley-area City Section teams.

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Big D: When it comes to an ounce-for-ounce, inch-for-inch measurement of San Fernando’s toughest defensive players, diminutive Anthony Mitchell (5 feet, 8 inches, 150 pounds) rates at the top of the chart.

Mitchell started the season as a third-string running back and was used primarily as fodder for the first string in practice. But during practice last month, Coach Tom Hernandez sent Mitchell in at nose guard--and Mitchell gave the first-team offense a poke in the nose.

“He was causing us fits,” Hernandez said. “We couldn’t block him. He was screwing up the whole practice. We’d try to run something and he kept getting in the way.”

Hernandez eventually inserted Mitchell at defensive tackle 2 weeks ago against Taft, and Mitchell responded by forcing 2 fumbles. Last Friday against El Camino Real, he caused another fumble and recorded 6 tackles.

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“He’s so quick he’s hard to get a handle on,” Hernandez said. “He was in the backfield so often he was practically taking the handoff.”

Crespi cracks: Crespi’s defense, which has surrendered 130 points in 5 games and 69 in the past 2, was again porous against Muir.

“We played Pop Warner defense,” Coach Bill Redell said. “We’ve been searching for the answers like a son of a gun, but we can’t find it.”

The Celts (2-3) had better find some answers soon: Del Rey League play opens this weekend when Crespi faces Alemany at Pierce on Saturday night.

Johnson surgery: John Johnson, Channel Islands’ blue-chip running back, will begin practice this week after undergoing arthroscopic surgery Friday to repair damaged cartilage in his right knee. Johnson twisted the knee in the Raiders’ 27-2 victory over Westlake on Sept. 30.

Channel Islands Coach Joel Gershon said that there was a slight chance Johnson would be ready to play Friday against nonleague opponent Huntington Park. It’s more likely he won’t play until Oct. 21 when the Raiders oppose Marmonte League foe Newbury Park.

“We’re just real thankful the injury wasn’t more serious,” Gershon said.

Balancing act: Village Christian quarterback Drew Martenson has helped allay Coach Mike Plaisance’s fears about his team’s passing attack. Martenson completed 14 of 20 passes for 188 yards and 2 touchdowns against Orange Lutheran in Saturday’s 31-14 win, the team’s fifth without a loss.

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The previous week, against Army-Navy Academy, Martenson completed 11 of 20 for 191 yards and 4 touchdowns.

“After going 3-0 primarily with our running game,” Plaisance said, “we went to Martenson and he’s responded well.”

Surprising Vikings: Monroe Coach Frank D’Alessandro predicted that 1988 would be a rebuilding year for the Vikings, but they have a 3-1 record and are tied with Reseda for first in the Mid-Valley League with a 2-0 mark.

A blocked field-goal attempt in the final minute of a 16-14 defeat to Venice 2 weeks ago stands as the only thing between Monroe and a perfect record.

“I didn’t expect us to be 3-1,” D’Alessandro said. “I knew we had some talented players in certain positions, but we were also inexperienced in others.”

The offensive leaders have been tailback Curtis Scott (588 yards, 5 touchdowns) and wide receiver Terry London (11 catches for 287 yards and 4 touchdowns).

Junior quarterback Jesse Wallace has completed 15 of 32 for 331 yards and 4 touchdowns and has rushed for 102 yards and 5 touchdowns.

Staff writers Tim Brown, Steve Elling, Steven Fleischman and John Ortega contributed to this notebook.

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FOOTBALL TOP 10 Selected by sportswriters of The Times

Last Rk Wk Team League Record 1 1 Channel Islands Marmonte 4-1 2 3 San Fernando North Valley 3-2 3 4 Granada Hills North Valley 4-1 4 7 Hart Foothill 3-2 5 5 Reseda Mid-Valley 4-0 6 NR Canyon Golden 3-2 7 2 Crespi Del Rey 2-3 8 NR Burbank Foothill 4-1 9 NR Thousand Oaks Marmonte 3-2 10 9 Chaminade S.F. Valley 4-1

NR--Not ranked.


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