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THE ‘80s A DECADE REVISITED :...

1987

Jan was dean of the City 4-A football final and the John Clark five from Saugus High won an improbable Southern Section basketball title.

As wide receiver Kyle Jan walked onto the field at East L. A. College with his Granada Hills High football teammates, he confidently mentioned to a bystander that the Highlanders had the City Section 4-A Division championship in the bag.

Huh?

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Granada Hills was playing heavily favored Carson, which entered the game with an 11-0 record and a No. 2 national ranking by USA Today. Furthermore, the Colts already had beaten the Highlanders, 42-14, in the regular season and 56-14 in the semifinals the season before.

Was Jan popping off? No, more like bursting Carson’s bubble. Before the game was over, Jan was named the most valuable player by Prime Ticket after leading the Highlanders to a 27-14 upset, giving the Valley its only City 4-A football title of the decade.

Jan caught seven passes from quarterback Jeremy Leach for a game-high 93 yards and a touchdown. While playing defensive back, he intercepted two passes by ambidextrous Carson quarterback George Malauulu. He also set the stands ablaze with his off-field tactics--not that he was out of the game all that often.

While on the sidelines, Jan ran up the tartan track that encircles the field, waving his arms to fire up the fans. “He was definitely into it,” said Leach, now a starter at New Mexico who played the championship game in a pair of borrowed high-top shoes. “He went nuts.”

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He drove Malauulu nuts too. Jan, who finished the season with 65 receptions for 950 yards and 15 touchdowns, intercepted a Malauulu pass to end a drive in the third quarter and another with 6:44 to play. Maybe Jan was practicing for his collegiate career: Jan and Malauulu are now teammates at Arizona. Of course, now Malauulu intends for Jan to catch the ball.

How big was the upset? Well, the Highlanders--who finished 9-3 after a 2-3 start--were a team that even a mother couldn’t love.

“I overheard my mom say before the game that she wouldn’t bet on us,” Leach said.

Improbable. Unlikely. Unpredictable.

A few months later, even the coach was caught up in the barrage of adjectives.

“Unbelievable is probably a better word,” Saugus Coach John Clark admitted.

Headline writers all over town ran out of adjectives long before the Saugus basketball team ran out of juice.

Saugus, which entered the Southern Section 3-A playoffs as a wild-card team, reeled off win after win to become only the second team in Section history to win a title as a wild-card entry.

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The Centurions’ title script was indeed unbelievable. Before each game, Clark showed his players videotapes of David-and-Goliath movie fare such as “Top Gun,” “Rocky,” “Victory” and “Hoosiers.”

Led by senior forward Rusty Morse, who averaged 18 points a game, Saugus beat cross-town rival Hart in a wild-card game, then scored victories against second-seeded Katella, California, Tustin, Palos Verdes and Rolling Hills in the final. Rolling Hills, the top-seeded team, was riding a 16-game win streak.

It didn’t end there. The Centurions--who finished 23-10--advanced to the state playoffs and came within a game of the final before losing to Woodbridge and Stanford-bound center Adam Keefe.

Anybody for unconscious ?

The illustrious career of quarterback Tom Bonds ended and, for practical purposes, Cal Lutheran’s experiment with Division II football ended with it.

The 5-foot-10 three-time NAIA All-American was the only reason the school could compete in the Western Football Conference. As a sophomore, Bonds passed for 2,427 yards and led CLU to a 6-5 record in its first year in Division II. As a junior, he set NAIA and NCAA Division II records with 44 completions and 434 yards passing in a game.

Cal Lutheran had undersized linemen and virtually a nonexistent running game, leaving Bonds as the lone threat. Still, he finished sixth on the Division II career passing yardage list with 7,773 and set six WFC records.

Bonds passed for more than 10,000 yards for Valley teams. He led Hart High to the 1983 Coastal Conference championship in his senior year.

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Notable: Thousand Oaks High won the Coastal Conference football championship behind the running of Marc Monestime, who rushed for 1,596 yards and set a Ventura County career rushing mark with 3,984 yards.

It was the first Southern Section football title for the Lancers. . . .

Pitcher-shortstop Jeff Cirillo of tiny Providence High tied a single-season Southern Section record with 57 hits. Cirillo now plays at USC. . . .

Jeff Kubiak of Cal State Northridge won his seventh individual NCAA Division II national swimming championship. . . .

Denise Sitton of Cal State Northridge became the school’s all-time leading scorer in women’s basketball with 1,467 points. . . .

Quincy Watts, a Taft High junior, won state championships in the 100 (10.49) and the 200 (20.99) and Dave Bultman of Royal won state titles in the shot put (67-0) and discus (193-6). Watts’ victories capped an undefeated season against high school competition. . . .

The Cal State Northridge softball team continued its domination under Coach Gary Torgeson by winning its fourth NCAA Division II championship in the past five years with a 4-0 victory over Florida Southern.


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