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Steen Focuses In on Career Year : Football: Tailback, who enrolled late at OCC and started last season out of shape, is ready to play up to his potential.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Most of the recent talk about Orange Coast College’s Adrain Steen seems to be punctuated by “what-ifs” and “if-onlys,” rather than about his considerable accomplishments in football last season.

Steen, a punishing tailback, ran for 891 yards in his freshman season and added 85 more in the Orange County Bowl to finish with 976.

He averaged 5.7 yards a carry, scored six touchdowns and helped OCC win the Mission Conference’s Central Division title.

Clearly, his numbers were impressive, but the talk about him from the coaching staff and others close to the OCC program centered not on what he did, but what he could have done if he had been at full speed the entire season.

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Steen enrolled late at OCC, started the season out of shape, then was slowed by a hip-pointer for the second half of the season.

“He was never really 100% at any time the whole year,” Coach Bill Workman said. “He spent most of each week standing on the sidelines, watching and resting. The only conditioning he got most of the time was on a stationary bike.”

Steen hopes the hip injury is behind him for the upcoming season, which starts Sept. 14 at Long Beach.

He spent last spring and this summer running and lifting, preparing for an injury-free season. Steen did slightly reinjure the hip in practice last week, but it isn’t expected to hold him back.

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“I’m more focused than last season,” Steen said. “Right now, it’s all about football and school.”

Steen also spent time in class this summer, making up six units he needed in order to be eligible for the 1991 season.

“He’s in a lot better shape than last year at this time,” Workman said. “That’s part of the reason for our optimism this season.”

Steen’s problems last year started in August, when he couldn’t make up his mind where to go to college--Rancho Santiago or Orange Coast.

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He first selected Rancho Santiago, then realized the Dons already had a tailback in sophomore Estrus Crayton. Crayton had been a J.C. Grid-Wire All-American running back as a freshman.

Steen figured he wouldn’t win the starting job, so he switched to Orange Coast.

A wise move, as Crayton went on to become the Orange Empire Conference offensive player of the year. A junior this fall, he is expected to contribute greatly at USC. Steen, who is 5 feet 5, arrived at OCC about the time two-a-day practices began, and weighed close to 200 pounds.

“They thought I was a fullback or something,” said Steen, who will play at 180 pounds this season. “I wasn’t even close to getting in shape and never really got there.”

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Steen’s rushing skills were considerable, but Workman could only selectively employ them.

“We had to be really careful not to wear him out too early in a game,” Workman said. “He’s not a guy who will try and dazzle you with his moves, but he is fast and he is usually falling forward at the end of his run.”

Steen started the season with 72 yards in 15 carries against a tough Long Beach defense. He had 91 yards against Cerritos the next week.

He finally surpassed 100 yards in the fourth week, when he carried 17 times for 126 yards in a victory over San Diego City.

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In that game, Steen suffered the hip pointer. He didn’t play the next week and carried only nine times in each of the next two games.

“It was the worst injury I’ve ever had,” he said. “It could have taken me out for the season, but I just wanted to play so much.”

Steen was feeling much better by the eighth week of the season, and Workman and the Pirates took advantage of it.

He rushed 27 times for 212 yards--the fourth-highest single-game total in school history--in leading OCC past Fullerton and into contention in the division race. He also became the first Pirate running back to rush for more than 200 yards since 1956.

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“It was weird,” Steen said. “I had my best game ever when I was hurt. I couldn’t cut much and had to run just straight ahead.”

Steen followed up the Fullerton game with 144 yards against Riverside.

“Last year was pretty good,” he said. “I kind of expected to do a little more, but this year, now that I’m in shape, I should be able to do better than ever before.”


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