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The High Schools : Brothers Give Royal Winning Tip

Gene Uebelhardt swears it’s true.

“We practice it every week,” Uebelhardt, the Royal coach, said of the tipped pass that beat Channel Islands, 13-12, in the final seconds Saturday at Hueneme High.

The play, when it works, goes something like this: Receiver James Jones runs to the end zone. Receiver Jason Jones runs to the end zone. Quarterback Pat Ledesma throws to the end zone. James Jones tips the ball. All hell breaks loose. Jason Jones catches the ball. Highlanders beat Raiders.

“It’s called the ‘Hail Jones,’ ” Uebelhardt said. “It doesn’t work often, but it did this time.”

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The victory over Channel Islands, the former top-ranked team in the Valley area and No. 3-ranked team in Division II, means much more than one game, one win to Uebelhardt in his first season as the Royal coach.

“It’s a great win for the program,” he said. “It’s the kind of win that turns a football team into a football program.”

In the long run: Royal’s defense did not allow Channel Islands’ explosive backfield tandem of John Johnson and Jerry Williams--both of whom have rushed for more than 900 yards this season--to break a long touchdown run. At least some of the credit, according to Uebelhardt, belongs to sophomore free safety Tim Ross, who made 5 touchdown-saving tackles.

Asked whether it was unnerving to see his free safety make so many open-field stops, Uebelhardt responded: “I’d rather be scared than lose.”

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Road woes: Chaminade’s 39-27 nonleague loss to Poway of San Diego last week may well have been forecast on the freeway earlier in the day.

“We had a flat tire on the bus,” Chaminade Coach Rich Lawson said.

That evening, Lawson had a flat team on the field.

The Eagles lost 3 fumbles and a snap sailed over punter Greg Baumgartner’s head for a 25-yard loss.

“If we would have gotten handled, that would have been one thing,” Lawson said. “But it was just a game of miscues.”

A repeat performance against Notre Dame on Friday night will cost Chaminade the San Fernando Valley League championship. Both teams are 3-0 in league play.

Crusaders’ downfall: After starting the season with 7 consecutive wins, Village Christian looked like a cinch to make the playoffs. Now the Crusaders (7-2, 2-2 in league play) need to beat Montclair Prep on Saturday and hope that the Southern Section playoff selection committee looks kindly upon them.

Coach Mike Plaisance, however, isn’t glum about the turn of events.

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“This whole season has been a pleasant surprise for me,” he said. “This is the least talented team I’ve ever had, but the best team I’ve ever had.”

Baseball, anyone?: St. Genevieve football Coach Kevin Kane probably is looking forward to hitting a few fungos.

Kane, who doubles as the school’s baseball coach, finished his first season as the Valiants’ football coach with a 1-8 record, 0-4 in San Fernando Valley League play. With a bye this week, the Valiants’ dismal season is over.

“I think it’s good timing,” Kane said. “We’ve just about run out of players.” St. Genevieve, which was outscored, 274-83, finished the season with a 15-player roster.

“It’s disillusioning,” Kane said. “It’s one thing to lose. It’s another thing to get blown out every week.”

More baseball: Chatsworth baseball Coach Bob Lofrano has been named the state high school coach of the year by the U. S. Baseball Federation, based in Trenton, N.J. The honor also qualifies him for the federation’s national coach-of-the-year award, which will be announced by the end of the year.

Joel Wolfe, a third baseman at Chatsworth last season, placed second to catcher Troy Tallman of Napa High as the federation’s state player of the year. Wolfe, who led Chatsworth to a 25-2 record, is a freshman at UCLA; Tallman plays at Stanford.

Lofrano has a 10-year record of 167-53 at his alma mater, which has won 8 consecutive West Valley League titles.

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Rex McMackin, an outfielder on last season’s Chatsworth team, has been named to Collegiate Baseball magazine’s high school All-American second team. McMackin currently plays for Arizona State.

Staff writers Tim Brown, Steven Fleischman, Vince Kowalick, John Lynch and John Ortega contributed to this notebook.


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