As the top-ranked team in the CIF Southern Section Division II at the start of the season, there were great expectations for the Muir High football squad, and the Mustangs more than lived up to their lofty billing.
They tied Santa Barbara for the division title Saturday, their first title since back-to-back championships in 1985 and 1986 and finished 11-1-2.
It has also been a rewarding season from an individual standpoint.
With four first-team and two second-team selections, the Mustangs have the most players on the 46-player Los Angeles Times San Gabriel Valley All-Star High School Football Team.
Muir placed offensive lineman Mudie Mushonga, defensive linemen Reggie Hunt and Orlando Benn and linebacker Paul Joiner on the first team and offensive lineman Johnie Drawn and defensive back Reggie Reser on the second team.
Two other valley powers, Glendora and Bishop Amat, were right behind Muir with three players on the first team and one on the second unit.
Glendora, which captured a co-championship in Division IV, and finished with a 12-1-1 record, landed quarterback J. J. O'Laughlin, running back Bill Zernickow and offensive lineman Chris West on the first team and defensive back Tim Flynn on the second squad.
Bishop Amat, ranked in the Division I top 10 all season, placed wide receiver Jeremy Smith, tight end Jason Green and offensive lineman Joe Patterson on the first team. Defensive back Marty Avalos made the second squad.
Los Altos and Arcadia are the other schools with more than one player on the first team. Los Altos landed Roger Boden at running back and Mike Collins on the offensive line on the first unit and added linebacker Bryan Carr and offensive lineman Javier Villanueva on the second team. Arcadia placed linebacker Ellison Kim and kicker Neil Voskeritchian on the first squad.
Wilson and Baldwin Park have one player on the first team and two on the second unit. Bassett, Nogales, Temple City, Damien, Arroyo and Workman each has one player on the first club and another on the second.
There are three juniors on the first team: running back Zernickow of Glendora, Voskeritchian of Arcadia and defensive lineman Mike Balian of Damien. Bishop Amat's Smith is the only repeater from last year.
Twenty schools are represented on the first and second teams.
The selections were based on a poll of 49 11-man football coaches in The Times' San Gabriel Valley circulation area, covering the San Gabriel and Pomona valleys.
The first teams from all Times sections will be honored at the annual Times High School Football Awards Brunch at 9 a.m. Sunday at the Anaheim Hilton, 777 Convention Way.
The program, sponsored by the Los Angeles Times Fund, will honor first-team all-stars from the San Gabriel Valley Section and 11 other Times circulation areas: Orange County, Westside, San Fernando Valley, Ventura County, Inland Empire (Riverside and San Bernardino counties), South Bay, Glendale, Southeast, South Coast, San Diego County and Central Los Angeles.
First-team players will receive a gold helmet plaque and a certificate.
The featured speaker will be Stanford Coach Dennis Green, former coach of Northwestern and an assistant with the San Francisco 49ers.
The Times San Gabriel Valley Section's Coach of the Year, Lineman of the Year and Back of the Year will be named. The winners will receive trophies.
Parents and the head coach of each first-team all-star have been invited to the brunch.
In a typical year, the valley is fortified with outstanding running backs, and this season was no exception.
Perhaps the best of the group is Marshawn Thompson of Bassett, a powerful 6-foot-1, 195-pound fullback who concluded his brilliant prep career by rushing for a remarkable 2,294 yards and 30 touchdowns in 379 carries as a senior. Thompson, the state's leading rusher this season, had the 10th highest single-season yardage total and 10th most touchdowns rushing in Southern Section history.
A second-team selection last year, when he rushed for 1,701 yards and 16 touchdowns in 301 carries, Thompson finished his high school career with 4,254 yards rushing to rank among the all-time valley leaders.
Considered a major-college prospect, the All-Southern Section Division V performer has been recruited by USC, Colorado and Colorado State.
Another running back who wrapped up a memorable career is Boden of Los Altos, who finished third among valley backs with 1,602 yards rushing and eight touchdowns in 260 carries. That left him with an excellent two-year total of 2,766 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns.
Boden, who is 5-11 and 175 and has blazing 4.5-second speed in the 40-yard dash, also caught 30 passes for 303 yards and one touchdown and has 45 receptions for 518 yards and three touchdowns in his career.
The two-time All-Sierra League selection, who was also outstanding on punt returns, has been recruited by Arizona, Stanford, USC, Air Force and Colorado State.
The youngest member of the backfield is Glendora's Zernickow, who played a central role in his team reaching the Division IV final. The 6-0 and 190 junior posted the second-highest rushing total in the valley with 1,761 yards and 17 touchdowns in 283 carries and also caught 11 passes for 169 yards and one touchdown.
That was considerably better than his figures as a sophomore when Zernickow rushed for 185 yards in 49 carries and caught 16 passes for 180 yards.
The improvement has caught the attention of numerous colleges, including USC, UCLA, Oregon, Colorado State, Utah and Kansas.
It certainly didn't hurt Zernickow to be in the same backfield with O'Laughlin, one of the most heavily recruited quarterbacks in Southern California. At 6-3 and 200, O'Laughlin has outstanding size and a powerful passing arm.
O'Laughlin wasn't the best passer in the valley statistically as a senior, completing 114 of 228 for 1,706 yards and nine touchdowns, but Glendora had a run-oriented offense. Not surprisingly, he is also a good runner and rushed for 284 yards and 11 touchdowns in 83 carries. He finished his prep career with an excellent 4,396 yards passing in three seasons.
Selected Most Valuable Player in the Baseline League, O'Laughlin was also the team's punter. An all-around athlete, he also starts for Glendora in basketball and baseball.
A preseason All-America selection by Super Prep magazine and an outstanding student, O'Laughlin has been recruited by about 100 colleges, including most Pacific 10 and Big 10 schools.
One of the most explosive offensive players in the valley for the last two seasons has been Bishop Amat's Smith at wide receiver, the only repeater from last year's first team. At 6-0 and 185, Smith has exceptional speed and leaping ability.
As a senior, he caught 46 passes for 638 yards and nine touchdowns and snared 126 passes for 1,638 yards and 18 touchdowns in his two-year varsity career. He is also a dangerous threat in returning punts and kicks.
A consensus preseason All-America selection and two-time Most Valuable Player of the Angelus League, Smith is one of the most heavily recruited players in the nation. Topping his long list are Arizona, USC, UC Berkeley, Colorado, Miami and Washington.
Bishop Amat also grabbed the other receiver position with Green, a 6-4 and 215 tight end who caught 27 passes for 336 yards and six touchdowns as a senior after catching 36 for 605 yards and eight touchdowns as a junior.
Like teammate Smith, he is regarded for his speed and leaping ability. Green is also an outstanding basketball player, averaging 22 points and 10 rebounds last season.
A two-time All-Angelus League selection and a consensus preseason All-America, he was a second-team all-valley selection last year. His top college choices are UCLA, Arizona, Illinois, Colorado, Arizona State, USC and UC Berkeley.
The first-team place-kicker, Voskeritchian, joins Zernickow as the only juniors on the first-team offense. At 5-9 and 155, he was the leading scorer in the valley among place-kickers with eight field goals and 32 extra points for 56 points. He hit a 47-yard field goal and just missed from 52.
The valley has a reputation for producing imposing linemen and the first-team offensive averages 241 pounds, topped by Norberto Garrido of Workman.
At 6-7 and 280, Garrido has excellent 5.0 speed in the 40 and starred as an offensive and defensive tackle for Workman. He has a reputation for knocking defenders off their feet and also scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery against Montclair.
On defense, he was a fierce pass rusher with 12 quarterback sacks. A first-team All-Valle Vista League selection, Garrido has been recruited by UCLA, Colorado, UC Berkeley and Washington State.
Patterson of Bishop Amat, who is 6-2 and 245, was a three-year starter for the Lancers and an all-league selection as a senior. He lists Washington, Oregon State and Kansas as his top choices.
The other three members of the first team offensive line--Collins, West and Mushonga--distinguished themselves as top two-way players.
Collins, 6-4 and 230, made the All-Sierra League team as an offensive tackle and defensive end. He was a solid blocker and was quick off the snap with 4.9 speed in the 40. He had 10 quarterback sacks, four tipped passes, two fumble recoveries and an interception for a touchdown. Colleges recruiting Collins include Colorado State and Cal State Fullerton.
A major factor in the success of Glendora was the play on both sides of the line by West, 6-3 and 220. Selected Lineman of the Year in the Baseline League, West excelled on offense with speed and blocking skills.
He also had 86 tackles, nine quarterback sacks, five blocked passes and scored two touchdowns--one on a pass interception and another on a fumble recovery--on defense. He has been recruited by numerous Pacific 10 and Western Athletic Conference schools.
If the name Mushonga sounds familiar, it may be because his brother--Mumbie--was an all-valley selection at linebacker for Muir last season. But Mudie has left his mark at Muir, too. He had a reputation as a steady blocker on offense and an intense lineman on defense.
The 6-3 and 232-pounder was among the team leaders with 82 tackles and 14 quarterback sacks. The all-league selection is also considered a top college prospect and has been recruited by Fresno State, Southern Methodist, New Mexico, USC and Colorado.
On the topic of size, the defensive front is even bigger than the offensive line since the four players average 244 pounds across.
Easily the biggest is Muir's Benn, who is 6-4 and 316 pounds and carries the nickname "Big Benn" for obvious reasons. Benn, who has speed for his size, also started at offensive guard for the Mustangs. As a defensive tackle, he earned All-Pacific League honors and posted 14 quarterback sacks and one blocked punt. He has been recruited by Nevada-Las Vegas, Colorado State, Arizona State and UCLA.
Damien has a tradition of producing top-notch linemen, and Mike Balian fits the description. The only junior on the first-team defense at 6-4 and 250, Balian also stood out as an offensive lineman. But he was the defensive leader for a young Damien team that consisted mostly of juniors and sophomores. He has been contacted by USC, UCLA and Washington.
It was a good year for Wilson, which was ranked No. 1 in the Southern Section Division IV before losing to Ramona in the quarterfinals. Leading the way on a strong defense was John Rafols. At 6-1 and 205, Rafols was perhaps the team's most active defender (91 tackles and five quarterback sacks) and earned All-Sierra League honors.
At 6-0 and 205, Muir's Hunt is the smallest player on the front line, but he played a pivotal role for a powerful Mustang defense that allowed an average of only 67 yards a game and 2.3 yards a carry against the run. Selected as the Most Valuable Defensive Lineman in the Pacific League, he recorded 98 tackles and 17 quarterback sacks and has been recruited by USC, Hawaii and New Mexico.
Perhaps the best defensive player for a Muir squad that logged four shutouts in its last seven games was Joiner at linebacker. The 6-2 and 217 Joiner led the Mustangs with 140 tackles and had four interceptions and two quarterback sacks. His list of schools includes Brigham Young, USC, San Diego State, Colorado, Arizona and Hawaii.
Over the years Baldwin Park has been regarded more for its quarterbacks and wide receivers. But they may have been overshadowed this season by Dunkelman at linebacker. At 5-10 and 205, he doesn't have size and is not being recruited by major colleges, although he was named Defensive Player of the Year in the talented Sierra League. He also doubles as an offensive lineman.
Arcadia's Kim is another linebacker who doesn't possess major-college size at 5-9 and 193. Just the same, Kim was one of the team's leaders in tackles and quarterback sacks for an Arcadia team that finished 9-2 and was ranked No. 2 in Division II before losing in the first round of the playoffs. He was All-Pacific League at both linebacker and offensive guard.
In the defensive secondary, Chris Liu of Temple City is small at 5-8 and 140, but the all-Rio Hondo-League selection led the valley in pass interceptions with nine and also contributed at wide receiver with 19 catches for 228 yards as the Rams reached the Division VII semifinals. He carries a 4.0 grade-point average.
Without a doubt, the top all-around athlete in the first team secondary is Billy Ivey of Nogales. At 5-9 and 155, he was the leader on defense with five interceptions. Ivey also starred as a running back, rushing for 1,006 yards and eight touchdowns.
Ivey, who transferred from West Covina High after last season, is an all-state performer in the long jump and triple jump. He has been recruited in football by UCLA, USC, Hawaii, Houston and Arizona State.
Keven Shanahan was a two-way leader for San Marino. An All-Southern Section Division VII selection as a junior, when the Titans won the division title, Shanahan sparked San Marino with a team-high four interceptions.
At 6-0 and 185, he also rushed for a team-leading 768 yards and 10 touchdowns and returned a kick 96 yards for a score. A fine student who was voted Rio Hondo League Most Valuable Player, Shanahan has been recruited by UC Berkeley and Ivy League schools Harvard, Cornell, Yale and Princeton.
Darren MacLellan of Arroyo may have received more attention for his skills as a running back but was the top tackler for the Knights and made six interceptions. He is only 5-7 and 170, but that didn't stop him from posting impressive rushing figures. He ran for 1,333 yards and 21 touchdowns in 170 carries and caught 15 passes for 218 yards and two touchdowns.
That gave MacLellan, the Mission Valley League Most Valuable Player, 2,266 yards and 40 touchdowns rushing over the last two seasons. He rushed for six touchdowns against El Monte in October, tying him with six players for the third-most touchdown runs in a game in CIF Southern Section history.
The all-valley second-team offense consists of receivers Robert Hodak of Northview and Duane Williams of Baldwin Park, linemen Johnie Drawn of Muir, Mike Gassner of Arcadia, Javier Villanueva of Los Altos and Chris Jacobsen of Arroyo, quarterback Richard Robles of Baldwin Park, backs Ryan Merrill of Wilson, Chad May of Damien, Jimmy Hunter of Nogales and Malcolm Thomas of Wilson and kicker Jacob Gomez of Workman.
The second-team defense consists of linemen Ryan Parry of Covina, Matt Gilmour of Temple City, Robert Montoya of Alhambra and Bernard Dixon of Pasadena, linebackers Richard Parham of Bassett, Dwayne Jones of La Puente and Bryan Carr of Los Altos and backs Marty Avalos of Bishop Amat, Tim Flynn of Glendora, Gilbert Diaz of Sierra Vista and Reggie Reser of Muir.
PREP FOOTBALL ALL-STARS 1989 OFFENSE Name: Jeremy Smith Position: Receiver School: Bishop Amat Height: 6-0 Weight: 185 Year: Senior Name: Jason Green Position: Receiver School: Bishop Amat Height: 6-4 Weight: 215 Year: Senior Name: Joe Patterson Position: Lineman School: Bishop Amat Height: 6-2 Weight: 245 Year: Senior Name: Norberto Garrido Position: Lineman School: Workman Height: 6-7 Weight: 280 Year: Senior Name: Mike Collins Position: Lineman School: Los Altos Height: 6-4 Weight: 230 Year: Senior Name: Chris West Position: Lineman School: Glendora Height: 6-3 Weight: 220 Year: Senior Name: Mudie Mushonga Position: Lineman School: Muir Height: 6-3 Weight: 232 Year: Senior Name: J.J. O'Laughlin Position: Lineman School: Glendora Height: 6-3 Weight: 200 Year: Senior Name: Marshawn Thompson Position: Quarterback Back School: Bassett Height: 6-1 Weight: 195 Year: Senior Name: Roger Boden Position: Back School: Los Altos Height: 5-11 Weight: 175 Year: Senior Name: Bill Zernickow Position: Back School: Glendora Height: 6-0 Weight: 190 Year: Junior Name: Neil Voskeritchian Position: Kicker School: Arcadia Height: 5-9 Weight: 155 Year: Junior DEFENSE Name: John Rafols Position: Lineman School: Wilson Height: 6-1 Weight: 205 Year: Senior Name: Mike Balian Position: Lineman School: Damien Height: 6-4 Weight: 250 Year: Junior Name: Orlando Benn Position: Lineman School: Muir Height: 6-4 Weight: 316 Year: Senior Name: Reggie Hunt Position: Lineman School: Muir Height: 6-0 Weight: 205 Year: Senior Name: Paul Joiner Position: Linebacker School: Muir Height: 6-2 Weight: 217 Year: Senior Name: David Dunkelman Position: Linebacker School: Baldwin Park Height: 5-10 Weight: 205 Year: Senior Name: Ellison Kim Position: Linebacker School: Arcadia Height: 5-9 Weight: 193 Year: Senior Name: Chris Liu Position: Linebacker School: Temple City Height: 5-8 Weight: 140 Year: Senior Name: Billy Ivey Position: Back School: Nogales Height: 5-9 Weight: 155 Year: Senior Name: Keven Shanahan Position: Back School: San Marino Height: 6-0 Weight: 185 Year: Senior Name: Darren MacLellan Position: Back School: Arroyo Height: 5-7 Weight: 170 Year: Senior
Name School Position Height Weight Year Robert Hodak Northview R 6-2 190 12 Duane Williams Baldwin Park R 5-8 155 12 Johnie Drawn Muir OL 6-3 265 12 Mike Gassner Arcadia OL 6-1 195 12 Javier Villanueva Los Altos OL 6-3 260 12 Chris Jacobsen Arroyo OL 6-3 215 11 Richard Robles Baldwin Park QB 5-10 165 12 Ryan Merrill Wilson B 5-11 155 12 Chad May Damien B 6-3 200 12 Jimmy Hunter Nogales B 5-11 175 12 Malcolm Thomas Wilson B 5-11 175 12 Jacob Gomez Workman K 5-9 170 11
Name School Position Height Weight Year Ryan Parry Covina DL 6-2 220 12 Matt Gilmour Temple City DL 6-4 225 11 Robert Montoya Alhambra DL 6-3 275 12 Bernard Dixon Pasadena DL 6-3 190 12 Richard Parham Bassett LB 6-3 215 12 Dwayne Jones La Puente LB 6-2 210 12 Bryan Carr Los Altos LB 6-2 215 12 Marty Avalos Bishop Amat DB 5-11 170 12 Tim Flynn Glendora DB 6-1 190 11 Gilbert Diaz Sierra Vista DB 5-9 170 12 Reggie Reser Muir DB 5-11 170 11