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Gonzalez Steps Out of the Shadows : After Leading the Central City in Passing Yardage as a Junior, Wilson QB Won’t Be Able to Keep a Low Profile

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Eddie Gonzalez can no longer hide behind the cloak of anonymity.

Gonzalez’s cinematic super-hero impersonation last season was to the T: performing wondrous deeds on the football field for Wilson High while remaining a mystery to much of the public.

But after the quarterback led the area in passing yardage as a junior, he will be one of the Central City’s high-profile football players this season.

That is Gonzalez’s new role.

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“I like to show other people who I am and what I can do,” Gonzalez said.

There was a reason Gonzalez established a low-profile image last year: Wilson started the 1993 football season with three consecutive shutout losses. Gonzalez passed for three yards in the 32-0 season opening loss to South Gate, and the following week he left the game in the second quarter with an injured ankle in a 20-0 drubbing at the hands of Salesian.

Gonzalez sat out the third game.

“The beginning of last season was really tough,” Gonzalez said, “but I knew things would turn around.”

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But, as happens in the movies, adversity made the hero stronger.

In Wilson’s fifth game, against Hollywood, Gonzalez bounced back to complete 14 of 24 passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns to give the Mules their first win, 47-7.

Although Wilson continued to draw poor reviews as a team, winning only two of 11 games, Gonzalez solidified his star status, leading the area with 1,623 total yards. In his best performance of the season, Gonzalez threw for 280 yards and one touchdown in Wilson’s 40-14 loss to Eagle Rock.

"(As a quarterback) all the responsibility is on me,” Gonzalez said. “Whether or not the team has a good day is up to me.”

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And like every hero, it’s only fitting that Gonzalez have a sidekick.

Enter Buster Bradley.

Bradley, a 5-10, 155-pound utility player, is one of the area’s top athletes. He showed his versatility in the game against Hollywood, scoring four touchdowns, two on interception returns.

Bradley led Wilson with 60 points last year and was among the top 20 local scorers. He played wide receiver, running back and defensive back but will be Gonzalez’s primary target this year.

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“I have a lot of confidence in Buster catching the ball and in what he does afterward,” Gonzalez said.

Bradley said that he is best as a wideout: “I play the receiver position better than tailback or defensive back. I am a natural running patterns and catching passes.”

Gonzalez and Bradley, both seniors, have displayed their ability to combine for the big play. Bradley, who caught 30 passes for 572 yards and six touchdowns, scored on passes from Gonzalez of 32, 40, 56 and 83 yards.

“Every time I catch a pass I think, ‘touchdown,’ ” Bradley said. “I think to myself, ‘I’m better than this guy guarding me.’ ”

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Like Bradley, Gonzalez is small for his position, at 5-foot-9 and 140 pounds.

But fewer acts in the Central City are bigger.

“I sit back in the pocket, read, wait for the passing window, step and throw,” the right-hander said.

And Bradley, a three-year varsity starter, has nothing but raves for his quarterback: “Eddie has good timing, movement and a good arm.” This mutual admiration and hours of extra practice have made comrades of the two.

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“Last season, we accounted for 80% of the offense, so we talk about what we need to work on, like pass patterns and timing,” Gonzalez said. “We are good friends.”

Bradley agreed: “We work on new plays and patterns so that everything is perfect for the game. That has brought us closer together.”

Now that this tandem has earned individual successes, they hope to make Wilson’s 1994 act a blockbuster.

Said Gonzalez: “The team looks good and has the attitude. In the first round of this year’s playoffs, I want to beat a 4-A team like Sylmar.”

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Here are some other quarterbacks and receivers expected to raise their profiles during the 1994 City high school football season.

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Patrick Regan, Los Angeles-- The 5-9, 160-pound Regan is the second-leading passer in total yardage among returnees from last season. Regan completed 73 of 158 pass attempts for 992 yards and nine touchdowns. In a game against Westchester, Regan led the team in rushing with 64 yards and a touchdown.

Juan Vasquez, South Gate-- Vasquez was a pleasant surprise in an otherwise disappointing 1993 Rams season. He passed for 642 yards and four touchdowns, completing 37 of 95 attempts. The 5-10, 165-pound signal caller will once again have the luxury of throwing to two of the area’s top receivers in tight end Mark Redoval and flanker Eddie Montez.

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Amar Brisco, Washington-- Unfortunately for Washington, Brisco will not have the fastest receiver in the Central City to throw to as he did last year in Jim McElroy. Brisco threw for only 398 yards and three touchdowns, but he averaged 12.9 yards per completion.

Kyle Speilbueler, Loyola-- Speilbueler is one of the many question marks facing the Cubs, who were weakened by senior graduation. He completed only three passes all of last year, but Speilbueler has a very strong arm and knows Loyola’s system after serving as Bobby Thomason’s understudy. Even though he is not battle-tested, the 6-1, 170-pound Speilbueler is worth noting, as Loyola is known for its quarterback development.

Other quarterbacks to watch are Fremont’s Robert Loera and Hassan Bailey of Locke.

Eddie Montez, South Gate-- Montez was Vasquez’s favorite target last season, catching 21 passes for 386 yards and four touchdowns. The 6-2, 180-pound Montez is a possession receiver but has the speed to stretch out a defense.

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Freddie Alcala, Bell--Alcala is Bell’s money man. He led the team in catches (23), receiving yardage (434) and touchdown receptions (five). He will be featured heavily in Bell’s offense along with tight end Dicky Purcell. Alcala is 5-9, 165 pounds.

Dicky Purcell, Bell--Purcell is one of the top tight ends in the area. The 6-2, 215-pounder led local tight ends in receiving with 16 catches for 324 yards and two touchdowns. At 6-2, 215 pounds, Purcell has very good hands and deceptive speed.

Timothy Boykins, Manual Arts--Boykins wasn’t featured in Manual Arts’ offense last season, but he still led the Toilers with six catches for 137 yards and two touchdowns. Boykins played mostly tight end last season but will see more time at flanker. The 6-foot, 175-pound Boykins has good speed.

Dalonte Walker, Fremont-- Walker is a converted running back. The 5-10, 175-pound junior was the Pathfinders’ second-leading rusher with 38 carries for 232 yards and a touchdown. This makes him extremely dangerous after the catch. Walker also caught three passes for 48 yards and a touchdown. He will play a bigger role for Fremont this season.

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