Carn's First Night the Stuff of Dreams : Prep football: Channel Islands running back wore out Rio Mesa defense--and himself--with 197 yards rushing.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Friday night was one of the most exciting in Renard Carn's three-plus years at Channel Islands High.

He took advantage of his head-turning strength, jaw-dropping speed, and steak-eating linemen to rush for 197 yards in 11 carries and score three of the Raiders' four touchdowns in a 30-18 win over Rio Mesa.

Those kinds of numbers attract big-eyed youngsters with autograph pads and qualify Carn for automatic star status at the local hamburger stand.

So how did he react to the performance?

"I went home and fell asleep," he said with a laugh. "I was just happy we won. I was pretty tired."

Yet not half as tired as the Rio Mesa defenders who chased him for more than two hours. Carn, a 6-foot, 180-pound senior, scored on runs of 45, 40 and three yards. One of his carries was for 57 yards, and he averaged 17.9 yards a pop.

A team captain, Carn carries himself as well as he totes a football.

"He is an outstanding athlete," Channel Islands Coach Joel Gershon said. "But his value to the team goes way beyond his ability to run and block. He is a respected leader on the team primarily because of his personal work habits and because of the way he treats all teammates."

Carn says there is more to life than football. Recruiters from USC to Michigan are interested in him, but he isn't caught up in the hype.

"I want to use a scholarship for more than just playing football," he said Tuesday. "I realize there are no guarantees that I'll play pro ball, so I want to take advantage of a scholarship."

That shouldn't be difficult for Carn, who has scored 880 on the Scholastic Aptitude Test and has a 3.0 grade-point average in college-preparatory classes. He wants to earn a degree in computer science and also would like to study finance.

"Academically, he sets a very fine example for the younger kids," Gershon said.

On a football field, Carn wants to return the Raiders to the form that earned Marmonte League titles for the school in 1987 and 1988. Last year, Channel Islands finished 4-5 overall and was fifth in the league with a 2-4 record.

"Last year, we had a lot of team problems," Carn said. "I want to make sure we do our best this season."

Carn is doing that on both sides of the line of scrimmage. He also starts at free safety, the first time he has played the position. Offensively, he wants to exceed the 627 yards he gained last season.

After Friday's effort, Carn was quick to credit center Ryan Laudato (6-1, 195), tackles Matt Gomez (6-1, 245) and Cesar Morales (6-0, 225), and guards John Gallero (5-7, 195) and George Camia (5-9, 210).

That beefy crew allowed Channel Islands to rush for 347 yards in 39 attempts, an average of nearly nine yards a carry.

"There were a couple of times the holes were so big I couldn't believe it," said Carn. "All I had to do was run through them, and that's pretty easy."

Yet Carn isn't allowing his first-game prowess to weaken his work habits. He remembers last season, when he rushed for more than 500 yards in Channel Islands' first five games, then gained only a little more than 100 during the last four.

He said he worked harder during the off-season, including an enhanced running program that was developed by his father, Bernard, who was a tight end at Florida A&M; and spent one season with the Buffalo Bills.

"Man, I just wanted to get that running over with," Carn said with a smile.

Rio Mesa must have thought the same thing Friday.

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