Kings of Push, Shove : With Guard Welbourn, Tackle Redman Clearing Way Undefeated Peninsula Is Running Over Opponents

TIMES STAFF WRITER

On the surface, Peninsula High seniors John Welbourn and Matt Redman are as different as black and white.

What they have in common is an ability as offensive linemen to force opposing players out of position, thereby creating openings for the Peninsula ballcarriers to run through.

Each goes about creating those openings with a different attitude.

"A lot of people don't think playing offensive line is fun," said Welbourn, a 6-foot-5, 275-pound right guard. "But I think there is nothing like it. I love the feeling of overpowering somebody and taking control and imposing your will on him."

Redman, a 6-7, 285-pound right tackle, takes a low-key approach.

"I'm not real aggressive or anything," Redman said. "I see offense as all teamwork. It's like a big machine. If everyone does their job, it will work."

Thus far, everyone has done their jobs for the Panthers (4-0), who lead the South Bay in rushing and rank second in total offense, averaging 338.5 yards a game.

"Our offensive line in general does a great job," Panther Coach Gary Kimbrell said. "If you give (tailback James) Durroh the opening, he'll just break out."

Durroh, a 1992 All-South Bay selection after rushing for 1,390 yards and 22 touchdowns, knows who to credit for his success.

"Every time we get a good, long drive I say, 'Good job offensive line,' " said Durroh, who leads the area in rushing with 555 yards. "I don't want it to seem like I think I can do it all myself."

Although Redman and Welbourn provide a formidable blocking tandem on the line's right side, Kimbrell doesn't necessarily base his play-calling on where the titans are.

"We don't really sit there and say, 'Well, let's just run it to the right side,' " Kimbrell said. "But when it comes down to gut-check time, when you've got to have it, then I do become aware."

Opposing coaches are aware of Redman's and Welbourn's presence, but still have difficulty matching up against them.

"We really geared our defense to the right side," said Culver City Coach Robert Moore, whose defense gave up 400 yards in a 45-14 loss to Peninsula on Sept. 24. "We were scared that the kids might get lost (against Welbourn and Redman), and they did. They are just two of the best linemen I've seen."

For Welbourn, nothing can beat a trap play or being asked to lead a sweep.

"I love to trap and come around on that sweep and see that linebacker floating along and just lay him out," Welbourn said. "Or I love to come through the trap and not have a man looking the right way and then have 275 pounds come crashing down on him."

Scouts are most impressed with the size of Welbourn and Redman.

"They are real big kids," said Dick Lascola, director of the Fallbrook, Calif.-based Scouting Evaluation Assn. "When you look for a lineman, you look for size and speed, and they are big, tough and aggressive."

Size is something Redman has always possessed. He was unable to play Pop Warner football because he was too big and had to wait until his freshman year to put on pads.

"I always played a lot of other sports and I was pretty good at swimming, but I never got a chance to play football," Redman said. "I was really tall when I was younger. I didn't start to put on weight until I started lifting in high school and so far I've gained about 75 pounds."

Welbourn's exposure to football came mostly from two older brothers.

"My brothers were offensive linemen and whenever we'd play I had to play defense," he said. "But I learned a lot of things then, especially about playing the offensive line, and I really started to like it."

According to scouts, Redman is considered the better college prospect because he is quicker afoot and has a better work ethic. But scouts like Welbourn's athleticism and say he could develop into a better player.

"They seem to have improved with their size and mobility since I first saw them last year," said Richard Estrada of Para-Dies Scouting. "Both stay with their blocks well and both will probably make good Division I players."

SuperPrep magazine was critical of Welbourn's mental toughness in the preseason issue.

"I can see how people may have thought that," Estrada said. "The other night he got hit on the side and he seemed to be moving a bit slower. But he did stay in the game and nobody really knows how much he was hurting."

Welbourn is tired of the talk and is intent on doing what he can to quell it.

"The guy who trains me said that mental toughness is the idea that even though you are hurt and tired, you can still go," Welbourn said. "You never give up and never say die. Watch me work out and watch me play football, or ask somebody I play against and they'll tell you I give it 100% all the time."

Welbourn is considering California, USC, Washington and Colorado. But playing football is not his only concern.

"I want to be a lawyer," he said. "My dad is a lawyer and I've always been intrigued by it. I've talked with the coaches and looked at the schools and they all seem good. I don't want to go somewhere and sit on the bench for four years and then play. I want to make an immediate impact."

Redman is looking for a serene setting. He has narrowed his choices to Cal, Washington State, Colorado and Iowa and plans to major in history or education, with the intention of becoming a teacher.

"I'm going to see where I feel comfortable," he said. "I've lived in a small town in Michigan before and I liked it. I'd like to go to school where it's a college town."

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