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HIGH SCHOOL NOTEBOOK : Creating Trust Comes First at Camp Kilpatrick

Each season, coaches strive for team unity, but Sean Porter, the football coach at Camp Kilpatrick, is presented with a unique challenge.

Camp Kilpatrick, a Los Angeles County school for juvenile offenders located in the hills near Malibu, has never had a returning player. Each year, Porter has to bring together his 30-plus players--a group of virtual strangers in an unfamiliar setting--and get them to trust and believe in each other. It is no small task.

“It takes months to get these kids to believe in each other,” Porter said.

In order to expedite the process this season, Porter and his staff last week took the players to The Wilderness Institute in Agoura Hills where they took part in trust-building exercises.

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To break the ice, team members held hands in a circle and passed along verbal and nonverbal communications to the teammate next to them. In another exercise, each player fell backward from a four-foot ledge into the arms of 14 teammates.

“Some of the better athletes froze, while some of the others were real surprising,” Porter said.

In the final exercise, players wearing safety harnesses jumped from a perch 30 feet above ground to a trapeze bar that was at least 10 feet away.

“In the beginning they didn’t have a lot of empathy (for one another), but after a while--after the first half went through and knew how tough it was--they were very supportive of the rest of them,” Porter said.

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Incidentally, Porter missed the trapeze bar on his attempt, but his players were there to support his miscue.

Juggling Act

In an effort to contain Hart quarterback Ryan Connors, Canyon will make a lineup switch tonight.

Senior Andy Cleland, a transfer from El Capitan High in the San Diego area, will shift from tailback to the secondary. Moving from the secondary to tailback will be 5-foot-9, 145-pound sophomore Ed Williams.

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Moving Cleland to the secondary will lend experience to a defensive backfield that will be under the gun.

“It makes us a little bigger, stronger and older in the secondary,” Coach Harry Welch said.

Adding to Canyon’s experience will be the return of senior Mike Torres, a fullback-defensive back who will start against Hart after a torn knee ligament nearly ended his football career last year. Torres and Cleland will be joined by senior Jim Zopelis in the defensive backfield.

Phi Beta Agoura

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Freshman Amy Skiezesz probably will be one of the most-watched athletes at Agoura High over the next four years--not just for her abilities as a distance runner but for her enrollment in Latin classes. Skiezesz must remain enrolled in a Latin class each of her four years at Agoura as a provision in an interdistrict-transfer agreement.

A youth club standout in track, Skiezesz should be a major contributor to Agoura’s powerful cross-country program this fall. As a seventh-grader in 1990, Skiezesz bettered former Agoura runner Deena Drossin’s age-group records in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters, running 4 minutes 59 seconds and 10:45.

Skiezesz lives in Westlake High’s attendance district and enrolled at the school in May for her freshman year. She transferred to Agoura during the summer after discovering Westlake did not offer Latin.

“That was the only way in which she could have gotten the interdistrict transfer, to take a course we didn’t offer,” said Jim Martin, Westlake athletic director.

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Martin added that the Southern Section and Westlake High will be keeping tabs on Skiezesz’s Latin status.

Should Agoura drop its Latin program or Skiezesz withdraw from the class, Skiezesz must transfer back to Westlake in accordance with interdistrict-transfer rules, Martin said.

In Memoriam

Burbank players will wear number 37 on their helmets in remembrance of sophomore Kenny Caldera, who was slain in a drive-by shooting in Van Nuys two weeks ago.

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Caldera, a linebacker on the freshman team last season, had hitched a ride home from a party with some friends when he was shot.

“The guys on the team have decided to dedicate the season to him,” Coach Randy Stage said. “It’s just been a real downer for everybody. Kenny was a very well-liked kid. He was one of those yes-sir, no-sir type of kids.”

Anonymous Audition

Monroe’s first game is next week and the Vikings still are looking for someone to kick off.

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Michael Johnson will do the punting, and Ed Garcia and Ed Carias will kick field goals. It’s the high, long-ball kicker that the team is lacking.

“I told the kids to bring me the hardest kicker on the soccer team,” Coach Dave Lertzman said. “And they brought me the goalie.”

The newest recruit came out to practice on Thursday--dressed in soccer attire--and kicked from a tee as half of the team circled around to see his stuff. His first kick traveled just 20 yards.

After his sixth attempt, the auditioner walked back to soccer practice, and Lertzman never even asked his name.

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“Right now he’s not better than what I have, so I don’t care what his name is,” Lertzman said.

Go West, Young Man

Montclair Prep figured to be the favorite to win the Alpha League on the strength of returning talent such as junior tailback Eliel Swinton and senior quarterback Mike Lincavage.

But the Mounties got added help when burly Marc Melendez transferred from Blair Academy in New Jersey to Montclair Prep. Melendez (6-2, 230) will play nose guard and tight end.

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While in New Jersey, he attracted the attention of William and Mary, among other colleges. Montclair Prep Coach George Giannini compared Melendez to former Mountie Jason Blatt, now on scholarship at Colorado.

Bumps, Breaks and Bruises

Village Christian received some bad news earlier in fall practice when starting running back Jason Gourson suffered a broken ankle that will cause him to miss the entire nonleague schedule.

But more bad news came when sophomore starting safety and backup quarterback Mike Spielman reported severe hip pain last week in practice. Doctors took a look and found that Spielman, strangely enough, had no true cartilage or ligaments holding his femur to his hip socket.

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Spielman will undergo therapy and might be return for the league season.

Depth Charge

St. Francis will be without tailback Fred Brashear for the next month. Brashear suffered torn ligaments in his right ankle in a scrimmage Saturday, but tailback is a position in which St. Francis has depth.

“If we’re going to have an injury, that’s one of the few places where we could afford it,” Coach Andy Boynton said.

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Mike Glaze and staff writers Paige A. Leech, Brian Murphy, John Ortega and Jeff Riley contributed to this notebook.


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