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HIGH SCHOOL NOTEBOOK : Diminutive Kicker Has a Big-Time Leg

Even at the age of five, when he started playing soccer, Eric Abrams gained attention for having a powerful leg.

“People used to be astounded,” said Jeff Abrams, Eric’s father. “One of his coaches called him ‘The Cannon’ because he kicked the soccer ball so hard and so far.”

Now 15 and a sophomore at La Jolla Country Day High School, Eric Abrams is in a three-way tie for third longest field goal in section history after making a 53-yarder against Victory Christian. The record of 56 was set by German Puentes of Morse in 1986.

“He has a real strong leg for his size,” said La Jolla Country Day Coach Rick Woods. “He’s not that big,”

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Abrams, 5-7, 130 pounds, would be a two-year varsity veteran, except he suffered a broken arm in a club soccer game after the first game of his freshman year. After undergoing surgery, he was able to return for the last few games of the football season.

Abrams has always been an all-around athlete participating in soccer, baseball and football. Last year, he was the left-forward on the school’s varsity soccer team and a member of the baseball team.

Until this year, kicking was Abrams’ hobby. But after attending two kicking camps last summer, he has starting taking kicking more seriously.

One of the more notable kicking camps he attended was the Professional Kicking Services put on by Ray Pelfrey. This one-week camp attracts an array of kickers--from beginners to professionals.

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“It gave me exposure to all the other kids and how I compared to them and how hard I need to work to be better than the rest of them,” Abrams said.

The kickers attending the camp were divided into high school, college and professional classes. Eric received awards for two contests he won while attending the camp--one for field goal distance and one for field goal accuracy.

“Ray Pelfrey is considered by probably most people as the guru of kicking people around the country,” Abrams’ father said. “I called him a couple days (after the camp ended) and he was really impressed with Eric and stated to me clearly that Eric could be a college kicker if he doesn’t get hurt and continues to practice.”

Abrams is his own practice partner during the football team’s workouts. After he stretches and runs with the team, he retreats to one end of the field to practice field goals. He ends his daily routine by lifting weights.

“He’s out there every day at practice with the team,” said Woods. “He has his own regimen.”

All-county basketball player Tony Clark will not sign a college letter of intent on Wednesday, the the first day of the one-week early signing period, according to Clark’s mother.

Clark, formerly of Valhalla High but now attending Christian, was the county’s leading scorer (29.3 per-game average) last year. He has been ruled ineligible this season by San Diego Section Commissioner Kendall Webb because of the transfer rule. His parents have appealed the decision. The Board of Managers is expected to hear the Clarks’ appeal Wednesday or Thursday.

Poway and Bishop’s, the defending tennis team champions in 3A and 2A respectively, are each seeded first in their divisions. The tennis team playoffs begin today and conclude Saturday with the championships at Tennis Escondido.

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Poway, which has a first-round bye, will play the winner of today’s Serra-Monte Vista match on Wednesday. Bishop’s, which also has a bye, will play the winner of today’s Grossmont-San Pasqual, on Wednesday.

Santana’s Andy Penwarden, the county’s second leading rusher before last Friday, is out for the remainder of the season after suffering two broken bones in his back on the Sultans’ first play from scrimmage in a 41-0 Grossmont 2-A League loss to No. 6 Grossmont.

Penwarden, a senior, had become only the second running back to rush for more than 1,000 yards at Santana. He had 1,023 yards on 114 carries entering the game against Grossmont. On the first play from scrimmage, he was tackled after a two-yard gain and finishes the season with 1,025 yards on 115 carries. He was 56 yards shy of breaking the school rushing record of 1,180 set by Kelly Hatfield in 1970.

Jason Eatherton will replace Penwarden in Santana’s Delaware Wing T offense. Eatherton suffered a broken nose against Grossmont, but is expected to play Thursday in the regular season finale against West Hills.

Just how high-powered has the Grossmont High School football team’s offense been this season?

Grossmont has scored 379 points and is 12 points from the Grossmont Conference record of 391 points scored by the 1986 Granite Hills team. Grossmont will be playing its 10th game of the season when it plays at El Cajon Valley in a Grossmont Conference 2-A game Thursday. Granite Hills set the record in 13 games (including the playoffs).

Grossmont running back Keith Price has run for 1,264 yards and is 123 yards shy of the school record set by Dennis Sutton in 1967.

Corey White of Santana and Price are both battling for the conference scoring title and both figure to break the conference record. White has 130 points this season and Price has 128. Both teams have a game remaining in the regular season and both are expected to advance to the playoffs.

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The conference scoring record is 142 points set by Granite Hills’ Brian Giles last season. Giles is playing baseball in the Cleveland Indian organization.

Rick Hazeltine contributed to this report.


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