BACK OF THE YEAR
If Granada Hills High running back Brett Washington is sometimes mistaken for a lineman, it’s for just cause. The bulky senior started his three-year career with the Highlanders as a nose guard. He ends that career as the most accomplished running back in school history, having set 16 school records. Washington rushed for 1,638 yards this year--averaging nearly 10 yards a carry--and finished his career with 3,410 yards. He also enters The Times’ records with a unique claim: He is the only player in the area to win both lineman and back of the year awards in a career.
LINEMAN OF THE YEAR
There’s little chance that Quartz Hill would have played at Anaheim Stadium for the Division I championship without the help of Selves Smith. As Canyon Coach Harry Welch said, “He can dominate from sideline to sideline.” Smith anchored the area’s most intimidating defense as an attacking linebacker. In addition, he was a member of the Rebels’ Three Horsemen backfield that powered the team to an 11-3 record. Smith rushed for 549 yards, scored 10 touchdowns and averaged 7.0 yards a carry.
COACH OF THE YEAR
Most Golden League coaches objected when the Southern Section moved the league to Division I, but the timing could not have been better for Quartz Hill. In their first year in the area’s toughest division, the Rebels fielded their strongest team since the school opened 26 years ago. John Albee, 50, has been at Quartz Hill for all but three of those years, and this season’s performance easily ranks as his career achievement. Quartz Hill won its first outright league title and at least a share of its third en route to a 11-3 record. The Rebels also accomplished a league first: handing Canyon its only home loss in league play in Welch’s nine years with the Cowboys.
Quarterback Bryan Martin combined with Washington to give Granada Hills one of the area’s most diversified attacks. Martin, who transferred from Illinois as a junior, completed 118 of 241 passes for 1,912 yards and 20 touchdowns to help lead the Highlanders to the City Section 4-A Division semifinals and a 10-2 record. He tied a single-game school record when he threw for six touchdowns against Chatsworth.
Kennedy Coach Bob Francola spoke for most Golden Cougar fans when he said at the end of the season, “I’m sure going to miss Ontiwaun Carter.” The back ends a three-year career as the school’s all-time leading rusher with 4,274 yards, including 1,521 this season. He also caught 38 passes for 532 yards in three seasons and rushed for 200 or more yards in a game five times. Carter, a repeat All-Valley section, has lined up recruiting trips at USC, Arizona, California and Washington.
Sylmar junior Tobaise Brookins not only filled the breach after the graduation of Jerome Casey, he gained more yards than Casey, rushing for 1,674 yards. He also scored 21 touchdowns. Running behind a beefy offensive line that helped the Spartans win 10 consecutive games before falling in the City 3-A quarterfinals, Brookins was the area’s busiest tailback with 282 carries.
Alemany stumbled to a 4-5 record and a fourth-place finish in the Mission League, but no one overlooked tight end Richard Dice. League coaches voted him the co-MVP after he caught 50 passes for 818 yards and 10 touchdowns. Only a junior, Dice may terrorize opposing offenses as well next season. He played safety in the last game of the season, causing two fumbles and recovering one.
Dice shared the league MVP award with a wide receiver who didn’t even play as a junior. Crespi’s Ryan Kieling returned to the Celts in 1990 after a one-year sabbatical and then taught Mission League defenses a few lessons. He led the area in receiving with 63 catches, good for 898 yards and nine touchdowns.
Chatsworth’s Delvon Hardaway may have been better known as a basketball player until his senior football season. Playing for a team that won only two games, Hardaway caught 23 passes, an ordinary number--but his 23.3 per-catch average bespeaks extraordinary skills. Myron Gibford calls Hardaway his best receiver in 11 seasons as Chatsworth coach.
The All-Valley offensive line includes two repeat selections who rate among the best linemen on the West Coast: Tim DeGroote of Hart and John DiSante of Notre Dame. DeGroote played both ways for the Indians and projects as an offensive lineman in college. As a defender, he had five sacks and more than 60 tackles, and Coach Mike Herrington calls him the best lineman at Hart in 20 years.
DiSante also played both ways in 1990 and also projects as an offensive lineman in college. A solid student, he has scheduled trips to UCLA, Cal, Colorado, Stanford and Washington. DiSante anchored an offensive line that led Notre Dame to a 6-4-1 record and helped make stars of first-year quarterback Steve Colella, who passed for 1,598 yards, and Fano Malieitulua, who gained 1,098 yards.
Canyon has reached the Southern Section semifinals eight consecutive times under Welch, and tackle John Artimovich’s three-year career underscores the Cowboy method. Undersized at 5-11, 226 pounds, Artimovich was the Golden League’s top lineman and was the emotional leader for a typical Canyon offensive line that was matchless in the area for its crispness and precision.
There’s nothing undersized about Montclair Prep’s Donovan Roy except for the division in which he plays. Roy helped lead the Mounties to the Division X title and a 10-3 record. Many expected the Mounties’ running game to suffer after the transfer of Derek Sparks, The Times’ Valley back of the year last year. But behind Roy’s massive frame, sophomore Eliel Swinton stepped into the lineup and rushed for 1,719 yards.
Kennedy’s Keith West rates as the most versatile athlete in the school. Besides earning All-City honors in soccer, he wears at least four hats with the Golden Cougar football team. As a wide receiver, he led City Section players from the Valley with 39 catches, good for 496 yards and five touchdowns. As a defensive back, he led the team with four interceptions. He also averaged 39.5 yards a punt, converted 27 of 33 extra-point attempts and kicked three field goals, including one of 53 yards.
Derrick Stewart of Granada Hills is the most respected defensive back in the area. Consider: He’s a two-time All-Valley selection and has intercepted all of one pass in three seasons. Teams don’t throw in his direction. Plus, as the “bandit” in the Granada Hills defense, he often played on the line of scrimmage. He led the team in tackles last season and was second in 1990. He also became a running back this season, rushing for 303 yards.
After a 1,000-yard season last year at Crespi, Leonice Brown transferred to San Fernando where he was happier and equally productive. He gained 1,060 yards despite sharing the ball in San Fernando’s wishbone attack. He started in the San Fernando secondary and shared the North Valley League MVP award with Carter.
After two consecutive disappointing seasons, Antelope Valley has reason for hope next year, particularly because Freddy Edwards returns for his senior season. He led the team in rushing with 810 yards (6.5 a carry), completed six of 14 passes for 42 yards and was the team’s big hitter in the secondary.
Sylmar has a knack of producing Division I collegiate players and Girmar Johnson seems destined to join the list. He excelled in the secondary, leading a defense that posted five shutouts and allowed 196 yards a game. He also rushed for 286 yards in 41 carries, intercepted two passes and scored six touchdowns.
At first, Iheanyi Uwaezuoke of Harvard caught everyone’s attention because of his name. But the Nigerian-born wide receiver and defensive back proved he’s more than just a phonetic challenge. He helped lead Harvard (9-2) to the San Fernando Valley League title, caught 23 passes for 427 yards and three touchdowns, and was a first-team all-league selection on offense and defense.
Welch called linebacker Scott Blade his Canyon team’s best player and leader of its swarming defense, which allowed 196 yards and 7.7 points a game. He also played fullback, gaining 306 yards in 41 carries, a 7.5 average.
Crespi might be more hard-pressed to maintain its image as one of the area’s most physical teams after the graduation of linebacker Frank Romano. A mainstay in the middle for the past two seasons, Romano also starred at tight end. He was second on the team in receptions with 25 for 348 yards and five touchdowns.
Darnell Hendricks of Taft led the team in rushing with 708 yards (5.2 yards per carry), but he made an even bigger impact on defense. In the same mold as Cornell Collier, a former Taft linebacker now playing at Cal, he accounted for 78 tackles and led the team with 10 sacks.
The bad news for Quartz Hill opponents is that defensive tackle Ralph Gutierrez is only a junior. With Gutierrez in the middle of things all year, Quartz Hill allowed an average of only 98.7 yards on the ground and kept people out of the end zone after halftime for half the season. In their last six games, including four in the playoffs, the Rebels allowed only seven points in the second half.
Hart’s image as an offensive powerhouse remains intact, but defensive end George Kase did his best to alert people to the Indian defense.
A second-team All-Valley selection last season, Kase leaves Hart as the school’s all-time sack leader with 36, tripling the previous school record. Three times this season he recorded three-sack games.
ALL-VALLEY SECOND TEAM OFFENSE
PLAYER SCHOOL POS. HEIGHT WEIGHT YEAR Brian Bernier Hart WR 5-11 155 Senior Troy Aldrich Canyon TE 6-3 200 Senior Rene Acosta San Fernando OL 6-2 260 Senior Ezsel Henry Sylmar OL 6-2 260 Senior Eddie Moreno Poly OL 6-2 255 Senior Rick Nickols Antelope Valley OL 6-2 255 Senior Ryan Connors Hart QB 5-11 165 Junior Terry Barnum Alemany RB 5-10 175 Junior Leon Gable North Hollywood RB 5-6 140 Senior Eliel Swinton Montclair Prep RB 5-9 173 Soph Erik Thomas Quartz Hill RB 5-9 188 Junior Brady Vilensky Hart K 5-10 145 Senior
PLAYER SCHOOL POS. HEIGHT WEIGHT YEAR Michael Black Camp Kilpatrick DB 5-9 165 Junior Jonathan Campbell Poly DB 5-11 190 Senior Alonzo Finney Granada Hills DB 6-0 185 Senior Mark Santos Canyon DB 5-11 185 Senior Raul Torres Poly DB 6-1 170 Senior Keith Woods San Fernando DB 5-11 175 Senior Kenyatta Green Sylmar LB 6-2 230 Senior Troy Snider El Camino Real LB 6-1 215 Senior Damon Tice Kennedy LB 6-0 230 Senior Herbert Cosey El Camino Real DL 6-2 227 Junior Willie Jackson Taft DL 6-4 235 Senior