Eleven months ago, quarterbacks Cree Morris of Orange Glen High School and John Lynch of Torrey Pines began their senior football seasons with high expectations, and justifiably so.
Tonight at 7:30, both will play for the San Diego Section when it meets the Los Angeles City Section in the third Hall of Champions College Prep All-Star Football Game at Torrey Pines High. But the seasons that led them there were decidedly different.
Morris, who is 6-foot-7 and 220 pounds, began last season as a highly touted but untested pocket passer with a powerful right arm. He had played tight end his junior season because the Patriots had Sean Gousha, who was third in the county with 1,985 passing yards.
Orange Glen's coach, Dave Lay, installed such a sophisticated offense that the Patriots became The Times' No. 1 county team; Lay later was named San Diego State's offensive coordinator.
Lynch (6-2, 205) was a mobile, strong-armed player who passed for 1,292 yards and ran for 542 his junior season after playing linebacker as a sophomore. He wore jersey No. 7 like his idol, John Elway.
Torrey Pines Coach Rik Haines brought in Jack Neumeyer, who had coached Elway at Granada Hills High, to design a run-and-shoot offense to exploit Lynch's talents. The Falcons were ranked No. 4 in the preseason.
But opening weekend foreshadowed a dream season for Morris and Orange Glen and a nightmare for Lynch and Torrey Pines.
On Sept. 8, Morris completed 13 of 16 passes for 254 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Patriots to a 49-0 rout of San Marcos. Morris wound up leading the county in passing (third in the state) with 3,212 yards and was named to The Times' all-section first team.
Orange Glen went undefeated in 12 games before losing to Morse, 31-28, in the 3-A championship game, in which Morris completed 17 of 31 for 325 yards and three touchdowns.
On Sept. 9, Lynch was unstoppable for 12 minutes, throwing for 143 yards and two touchdowns in the opener against the University of San Diego High. But his good fortune did not last much longer. Early in the second quarter, a USDHS player grabbed Lynch's right ankle on a screen pass attempt, and Lynch went down. A broken bone, for all intents and purposes, ended his season. To worsen things, USDHS rallied for a 27-20 victory.
Lynch managed to make it back for Torrey Pines' final game, completing 18 of 37 for 277 yards and two touchdowns in a 20-20 tie with Poway. The Falcons ended the season 4-5-1; Morris threw for 252 yards and four touchdowns in Orange Glen's 48-22 victory at Torrey Pines while Lynch watched from the sidelines.
"I thought it was going to be a really big year," Lynch said. "But that's all behind me now. I'm glad everything worked out."
Lynch wound up receiving a scholarship from Stanford. Like Elway, who missed the second half of his high school senior year with a knee injury, Lynch would also like to play baseball for the Cardinal.
Following Lay, Morris accepted a scholarship to SDSU, where he will back up Dan McGwire.
"I'm really looking forward to this (all-star) game," Morris said. "It's really going to benefit me with another game under my belt entering college."
Rik Haines, who will coach the San Diego team with father Dick Haines of Vista, said he will likely play Morris in the first and third quarters and Lynch in the second and fourth.
"We'd like each of them to throw 40 times," Rik Haines joked. "Forty throws, one draw."
He added, "We've got some offensive plays for John, and we've got some offensive plays for Cree. They've got a little different styles, and we'll try to implement plays to show what the kids do best."
San Diego has won the past two of these games.
Last year, San Diego edged Los Angeles, 17-14, on a last-second 39-yard field goal by Torrey Pines' Tim Walker. In 1987, San Diego jumped out to a 19-0 lead but needed a 49-yard TD pass from Maurice Jackson (Madison) to Johnny Ace (Valhalla) with less than three minutes left to win, 26-19.
Los Angeles is hoping to revert to a time it dominated this game before it was discontinued in 1963.
Los Angeles coaches Brad Ratcliff of University and Tom Hernandez of San Fernando will try to do so with speed in the backfield. Dorsey's Wilson (Beno) Bryant, the state 400-meter champion headed for the University of Washington, will share running back duties with Washington's Takim Brown (Washington State), Crenshaw's Shon Ellerbe and Banning's Keith Mims.
Roman Foster (Colorado), who led Dorsey to its best season in nearly a decade will split time at quarterback with Kennedy's Tony Smets.
The Orange Glen and future SDSU combination of Morris and Jake Nyberg could be a factor. Nyberg led the state in receiving with 93 catches (sixth on the all-time list) for 1,456 yards.
Southwest's Will Tate (San Diego State) is another talented wideout.
The defense, coached by Lincoln's Roy Reed (the only coach to have been associated with all three games), will be anchored on the line by Vista's Tamasi Amituanai (325 pounds). Amituanai (Colorado) is the only player on either squad to participate in last week's Shrine Game at the Rose Bowl. His South team won that game, 23-7.
Jake Nyberg's Orange Glen football helmet, normally blue with a red stripe down the middle, is now adorned with insignias from Chula Vista, El Camino, Lincoln, Morse, Mt. Miguel, Santana, Southwest and Torrey Pines. Nyberg said that players starting switching their helmet logos during practice and that it became a contest to see who can get the most stick-ons. Cree Morris is the unofficial leader with nine, including Helix's Scottie Dog, reportedly coveted by Nyberg . . . The game will be broadcast by KVSD-FM (1000.0) with Mike Trussel and Brad Cesmat doing the play-by-play. Tickets are $10 for reserved seating and $5 for general admission.
LOS ANGELES ROSTER
No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. High School 1 Brian Townsley WR 6-1 170 University 2 Johnny Lawrence WR 6-1 170 Banning 3 Larry Avery WR 5-8 147 Westchester 4 Antonio Sparrow LB 6-2 185 Washington 5 Eric Williams DB 5-10 200 Banning 6 Keary Johns LB 6-1 195 San Fernando 7 Paul Montgomery DB 6-2 190 Banning 8 Howard McCrary DB 6-3 190 San Fernando 9 Bu'Shon Glover TE 6-3 210 Crenshaw 10 Roman Foster QB 6-2 185 Dorsey 11 Wilson Bryant RB 5-11 170 Dorsey 12 Tony Smets QB 5-9 150 Kennedy 14 Shawn Miller LB 6-1 225 Dorsey 15 Andrew Munoz K 5-8 150 San Fernando 19 Greg Lindsey DB 6-1 185 Carson 22 Keith Mims RB 5-6 170 Banning 30 Francisco Ortega P 5-10 175 Lincoln 32 Shon Ellerbe RB 5-11 165 Crenshaw 33 Sharrieff Shah DB 6-0 190 Dorsey 34 Takim Brown RB 5-11 218 Washington 36 Todd Auvaa LB 6-4 220 Carson 37 Thomas Henderson LB 5-10 215 Venice 40 Rida Saadiq DL 6-1 195 Crenshaw 45 Refugio Garza DB 6-0 185 Bell 46 Peter Hunt LB 6-1 240 Carson 51 Edgar Maldonado OL 6-2 285 Lincoln 52 Eric Gibbs OL 5-9 235 Crenshaw 53 Lester Larry DL 6-3 240 Kennedy 57 Gabriel Lopez LB 5-10 205 Franklin 60 Alex Flores LB 6-2 220 Lincoln 64 Louis Ayala OL 6-4 250 Garfield 66 Paul Ordonez OL 6-2 286 Banning 69 Andy Gonzalez OL 6-4 245 Bannning 72 Sam Berman C 6-2 215 Fairfax 74 Anthony Mitchell DL 5-9 160 San Fernando 84 Bryan Proby DL 6-6 245 Banning 88 David Crowfield OL 6-4 220 Dorsey 89 Ahmed Mortis LB 6-2 210 Crenshaw
SAN DIEGO ROSTER
No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. High School 1 Chris Johnson LB 6-1 188 Crawford 2 Jeff Jordan WR 5-7 140 University City 3 Lenny McGill DB 6-2 185 Orange Glen 5 Orlanzo Edwards RB 5-9 170 Lincoln 7 Cree Morris QB 6-7 220 Orange Glen 8 Darrell Lewis DB 6-2 186 Morse 9 Eugene Ethridge RB 5-9 170 Mt. Miguel 10 Eric Robinson RB 6-0 178 El Camino 12 Mark Hood DB 6-0 170 Kearny 17 John Lynch QB 6-2 205 Torrey Pines 19 Robert Howard DB 6-1 185 Crawford 23 Sylvester Jones DB 6-2 175 El Camino 31 Steve Cardoza RB 5-9 175 Santana 32 David Taylor DB 6-1 195 Helix 43 Andy Trakas K 5-10 175 Patrick Henry 44 Mike Huddleston LB 6-1 215 La Jolla 51 Jack Harrington OL 6-0 215 Rancho Buena Vista 54 Tim Patterson OL 6-4 220 San Dieguito 55 Leonard Hill LB 5-11 170 Lincoln 56 Tamasi Amituanai DL 6-3 325 Vista 58 Raymond Thompson DL 6-2 234 Crawford 61 Doug Kemp OL 6-2 235 Mt. Miguel 62 Tom Pellegrino LB 5-11 213 San Dieguito 66 Michael Ivory OL 6-2 260 Morse 68 Rex Calvin OL 6-0 250 Morse 71 Monte Smith DL 6-1 225 Lincoln 72 Larry Anderson DL 6-4 225 Chula Vista 75 Willian Arbuthnot OL 6-3 200 Lincoln 77 Kim De Los Reyes DL 5-10 220 El Camino 78 Tim Woods OL 6-2 225 Mira Mesa 79 Greg Hukari OL 6-3 250 Fallbrook 80 Doug Schwenke WR 6-0 180 Poway 81 Jake Nyberg WR 6-1 181 Orange Glen 88 Dan Stehly LB 6-2 220 Orange Glen 89 Will Tate WR 6-0 160 Southwest 98 Shane Armstrong LB 5-10 230 El Camino 99 James Loftis DL 5-10 230 Fallbrook