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Banning Changes Its Blueprint for Success

Before the season, Banning football Coach Ed Paculba said he planned to build the offense around running back Melvin Blue, a player rated among the top college prospects on the West Coast by SuperPrep magazine.

After three games, though, Blue has been reduced to being a backup. The 6-foot, 220-pound senior ranks fourth on the Pilots in rushing, and his carries have been reduced in each game. He had only one carry for two yards Friday in a 19-16 victory over Tustin.

What happened?

“We thought he was going to be the man,” Paculba said, “but it turned out he’s not the man we wanted back there.”

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Blue’s benching has as much to do with attitude as ability. Banning opened the season with Blue starting at tailback instead of fullback, the position he played last season. But when it became apparent that the Pilots had better--and faster--tailbacks, Blue balked at the idea of returning to his old position.

“He just didn’t want to play fullback any more,” Paculba said. “So we decided to go with somebody who wanted to do the job.”

Banning (1-2) has alternated Israel Ruiz and John Toavalu at fullback, with Carson transfers Sean Turner and Jermaine Claxton alternating at tailback. Turner and Claxton each rushed for more than 90 yards last week.

So where does that leave Blue?

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“We’re going to put him on special teams,” Paculba said. “He has to work his way back in (as fullback). When he’s ready to do the job, we’ll put him back in.”

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Tony Harvey, benched after one game as Carson’s quarterback in favor of junior Ramon Rogers, said he is enjoying his return to wide receiver, the position he played in 1992.

“I’m more comfortable out there after playing there last year,” said Harvey, who had six catches for 126 yards and a touchdown Friday in a 19-6 victory over Anaheim Servite. “Quarterback is a lot of pressure. At receiver, you can just play your position.”

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Carson will play Washington at 4:30 p.m. today in a Southern Pacific Conference opener at Gardena. The game was originally scheduled for Friday night, but Banning had already reserved Gardena for its conference opener against Narbonne.

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Believe it or not:

A reporter seeking information about Saturday’s postgame brawl involving the Harbor College and Pierce football teams tried to phone Harbor assistant Bill Barlow at home Saturday night. When there was no answer, he made another call to Barlow’s pager.

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The reporter promptly received a call back, but not from the person he expected. On the other end was Ira McKenna, a Banning sophomore and backup quarterback for the Pilots, who had found Barlow’s pager after the fight at Harbor.

McKenna, a spectator at the game, said he intended to return the pager to Barlow.

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Hawthorne’s football team has scored 104 points in three games, including 91 the past two weeks in lopsided victories over Morningside and South Torrance.

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But the Cougars have been slow starters, scoring only 14 points in the first quarter.

“Our first quarter is a bad one,” Coach Dan Robbins said after last week’s 32-3 victory over South. “We can never get more than one score in the first quarter, even in our (59-0) win over Morningside.”

Robbins, though, has no complaints about his defense, which has given up only one touchdown and three field goals. Junior linebacker Ka’vika Purcell looks like a bigger version of Tevita Moala, the hard-hitting linebacker who anchored the Hawthorne defense the past two seasons and now plays for Brigham Young University.

“Our defense is really solid,” Robbins said. “They say you win championships with defense. Going into the season, that was our biggest question.”

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Mira Costa broke into the Southern Section Division VII football poll this week at No. 5 after a convincing 31-0 victory over Santa Monica.

Although the Mustangs have won each of their three games by comfortable margins and have yet to surrender a point on defense, Coach Don Morrow was not entirely pleased after last week’s game.

“We won, but we can play better,” Morrow said. “The players can’t be 100% satisfied with the way they played. Even though we came out on top, we can execute better. I don’t care what the score was. Execution-wise, it always wasn’t there.”

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Morrow was mainly referring to the offense. Mira Costa quarterback Ryan Barnes threw an interception and fumbled three times, losing one, inside the Santa Monica 20-yard line in the first half.

“We were a little bit jittery, especially Barnes, in the first half,” Morrow said. “When the quarterback relaxes and plays well, I think we have a pretty good team.”

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Friday’s scheduled eight-man football game between Chadwick and Midway Baptist of San Diego has been canceled because Midway Baptist does not have enough healthy players to field a competitive team, Chadwick Coach Sid Grant said.

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Grant said three Midway Baptist starters were injured last week, reducing the team’s roster to 11 players. Chadwick, ranked No. 2 in the Eight-Man Large Division, has 19 players.

“Their coach called me and said they got beat up,” Grant said."They would have played thegame, but under the circumstances I suggested that we cancel it. It doesn’t make sense to bring a team up here when they’re not 100%.”

Grant, who was unable to arrange another game, said Chadwick will take advantage of the bye to rest its own injured players and prepare for its Prep League opener Oct. 8 against Pasadena Poly. Running back Scooter Atkins, the Dolphins’ leading rusher, suffered bruised ribs Saturday night in a 47-12 victory over Capistrano Valley Christian, a game in which seven Chadwick players scored touchdowns.

Notes

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Outside linebacker Mac McKinnie, a former Chadwick standout, made his first start for Southern Methodist University on Saturday in a 21-15 Southwest Conference victory over Texas Christian, Dolphin Coach Sid Grant said. McKinnie, a redshirt freshman, is believed to be the first Chadwick graduate to play Division I-A football. . . . This could be the week the Mary Star football team ends its 19-game losing streak, which started in the 1991 season. The Stars (0-3) open Camino Real League play Friday night at Pius X of Downey (0-3).

Molly Mehlberg placed first in 18 minutes 40 seconds to lead Peninsula to the girls’ team title at the Royal Invitational cross-country meet Saturday at Moorpark College. The Panthers are ranked third in Division I. . . . Mira Costa, ranked No. 8 in Division III, defeated Peninsula, 12-10, Tuesday in a meeting of the Ocean League’s top water polo teams. . . . The Peninsula girls’ tennis team, ranked No. 1 in Division I, ran its three-year record to 55-0 with a 15-3 victory Tuesday over Calabasas.

South Torrance slipped from third to sixth in the Division IX football poll after its loss to Hawthorne. The Spartans are the only Pioneer League team ranked in the top 10. The Los Padres League has five teams in the top 10, led by No. 1 Atascadero. . . . After West Torrance running back Tito Powell rushed for 129 yards and a touchdown and caught six passes for 86 yards and a TD in a 26-7 victory over Inglewood on Friday, West Coach Kerry Crabb observed: “Tito was a man-child.”


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