Dan Robbins knows all about the possibility of a milestone being reached Friday night at Hawthorne High. And he's determined not to let it happen.
While Robbins goes after his second victory as Hawthorne's football coach, his counterpart across the field, Dick Hill of Santa Ana, will be going after his 192nd career victory, which would make him the winningest coach in Orange County history.
Hill is tied for the record with Herb Hill (no relation) of Anaheim Loara at 191.
Orange County newspapers are building up the game in anticipation of Hill setting the record. In the process, one paper has given Robbins a scrap of bulletin-board fodder.
Robbins' father, Dick, who coaches the sophomore football team at Mission Viejo High, alerted his son to a story in The Times' Orange County Edition in which the reporter, Tom Hamilton, wrote that Santa Ana is expected to get the record for Hill against Hawthorne.
"I asked my dad to send it up so I could share it with the team," said Robbins, who is in his first year as Hawthorne's coach. "I read my players the part that (Santa Ana) is expected to get it against us."
Hill has been stuck at 191 victories in his team's last two games. Santa Ana finished last season with a loss and absorbed a 21-9 setback in its 1991 opener last week against Anaheim Esperanza, the No. 1-ranked team in Orange County.
Robbins, though, knows Hawthorne will have its hands full. The Cougars opened the season with a 19-17 victory over Antelope Valley.
"We expect as tough a game as last week, if not tougher," Robbins said. "They are a good ballclub. They didn't fall apart against Esperanza.
"Hopefully we won't be in the record book."
After the first week of the season, two South Bay teams appear to be searching for a starting quarterback.
The wildest one is at Peninsula High, where four quarterbacks are contending for the starting job. In the Panthers' 16-7 victory Friday over Long Beach Millikan, senior Steve Cooper played the first half and junior Matt Cheeseman played the second half.
But neither will start Friday night's game at Culver City. That honor will go to junior Scott Gordon, said Coach Gary Kimbrell.
"I'm just sort of playing it by ear right now," Kimbrell said. "Gordon didn't get in last week, and I want to give them all a chance."
Complicating matters is senior Rich Radford, a talented athlete who might have the most natural ability to run Peninsula's option attack. But Kimbrell would prefer to keep Radford at free safety, where he is one of the team's defensive standouts, unless the other three quarterbacks don't develop.
The area's other quarterback search is at Leuzinger, where seniors John Cotton and Gary Mumin are waging a battle. Cotton, a transfer from Morningside, played the first three quarters Friday in a 45-6 loss to Carson. Mumin, Leuzinger's starter last season, played the fourth quarter and scored the Olympians' only touchdown on a 32-yard scramble.
"Both of them are still going for that position," Coach Tom Jessee said.
Cliff Warren, the new basketball coach at Redondo High, has an impressive history of building winning teams and loyal followings, going back to his days at El Segundo High in 1963-67.
Two years ago I received a letter from Linda Dinnel, whose son, Ron, played basketball for Warren at Rolling Hills High for two seasons (1988-89) after transferring from South Torrance. In it, Mrs. Dinnel shed light on what makes Warren a success from a parent's point of view. Here are some excerpts:
"During the summer of 1987 our family made the decision to lease out our home in Hollywood Riviera and move to a condominium in Rolling Hills Estates. This decision was made because my husband, Ron, wanted Ron Jr. to have as great a high school basketball experience as he had with Coach Ken Brown at Aviation High. We made the decision solely because we wanted Ron Jr. to play for an inspirational man who would instill in him lifelong values and goals.
"Ron Jr. has entered college . . . Coach Warren calls him frequently to make sure he is doing well on and off the court. We have met other young men who have played for (Warren) and they, too, continue to be motivated by Cliff. . . . It seems that when a young man has played for (Warren), he continues to strive for the best in life.
"Now that we have moved back home and reflect on the past two basketball seasons, we are certain we made the right decision. Our son had always worked hard at the game and we are thankful that Coach Warren gave him the opportunity to play. We only wish that all dedicated ballplayers could have such a great coach. Each player knew his role, no one was ever afraid of getting pulled out for making a mistake or missing a shot, and no player was every ridiculed. It was a 100% positive situation.
"We felt Rolling Hills would be lucky to come in fourth place in the Bay League behind West, Palos Verdes and Torrance. Winning was not a factor, but playing for a winner (Cliff Warren) was a factor. As it turned out, we finished in first place both years--that was the frosting on the cake!"
Warren takes over a Redondo program that returns four of its top six varsity players and reportedly has several promising underclassmen. That figures to make the Sea Hawks a challenger in the competitive Ocean League, which includes defending champion and CIF powerhouse Morningside.
On the downside, Warren did not have the opportunity to work with Redondo's players during the summer.
"I always believe the summer is one of the most important times of the basketball season, but if you don't have it, you don't have it," he said. "This is the first summer I've had off in six years, but now it seems like I never even coached."
Former Palos Verdes football Coach Bill Judy is recuperating at home after suffering from a life-threatening case of pneumonia this summer.
"I just barely made it," said Judy, who was hospitalized for a month. "I came home a couple of weeks ago. I'm just beginning to get up in the morning and get a good night's sleep."
Judy said he hopes to return to his job next week as a biology teacher at Peninsula High. Because of his weakened condition, he was unable to attend the Panthers' first football game Friday, a 16-7 victory over Millikan.
"It isn't as though I'm missing (football) right now," he said. "I'm just glad to be alive and looking forward to getting back to work and being healthy. But I'm glad they won. I'm happy for the players."
Judy coached Palos Verdes for eight years and guided the Sea Kings to the CIF Division VIII final last season.
Ryan Buxton, the starting center for Peninsula's football team, suffered a bruised kidney in a car accident Saturday night but is expected to play in Friday night's game at Culver City, Coach Gary Kimbrell said. . . . Torrance's passing attack figures to improve Friday night against Verbum Dei with the return of All-Pioneer League tight end Colby Kaopua, who sat out most of last week's 16-12 loss to Santa Barbara with a sprained ankle.
Richard Wells is expected to resign as the Hawthorne boys' basketball coach because he has been named women's basketball coach at Trade Tech, according to sources. . . . Bob Grant has resigned as South Torrance's baseball coach to become an assistant at El Camino College with new Coach Nick Van Lue, who guided Narbonne to the L.A. City Section 3-A Division title last season. . . . Gardena tackle Charles Campbell was a defensive standout Friday in the Mohicans' 13-6 victory over Jefferson with a fumble recovery, a caused fumble and a sack.
The Peninsula girls' tennis team, ranked No. 1 in the Southern Section 4-A Division coaches' poll, defeated No. 2 Corona del Mar, 17-1, Monday despite playing without its top two singles players. . . . The Peninsula boys' cross-country team, ranked No. 2 in the Southern Section Division I poll, was the section's top finisher at the Laguna Hills Invitational last weekend.
South Bay's Football Top 10 Selected by Times Sportswriters
Rank, School, League Record 1 Banning (Pacific) 1-0 2 Carson (Pacific) 1-0 3 Peninsula (Bay) 1-0 4 Hawthorne (Bay) 1-0 5 Morningside (Ocean) 1-0 6 South Torrance (Pioneer) 1-0 7 Mira Costa (Ocean) 1-0 8 West Torrance (Pioneer) 1-0 9 Serra (Camino Real) 0-1 10 San Pedro (Southern) 1-0