Colorado wide receiver Blake Anderson didn't catch a pass in Saturday's game against Michigan, but he did manage to get his right hand on the most dramatic reception in school history.
Anderson, a fifth-year senior from Palos Verdes High, tipped quarterback Kordell Stewart's desperation pass near the goal line, enabling teammate Michael Westbrook to catch it in the end zone with no time remaining. The 64-yard touchdown play gave Colorado a stunning 27-26 victory.
The catch came on a designed play called "Jets Formation, Rockets Left," where three receivers race up the left side of the field. Anderson said they practice it every Thursday but only go through the motions to make sure all the receivers are in the correct positions.
"My job is to try and tip the ball," Anderson said. "I set up around the goal line and Michael gets in the end zone. There were about four (Michigan) defenders around me. It's just something that worked out perfectly."
Being part of the play provided Anderson with a rare personal highlight. The former Palos Verdes quarterback has played primarily on special teams at Colorado. He has only one career reception.
"It's something I'll never forget," Anderson said. "Everybody was just yelling and screaming. We were excited beyond belief. Guys were crying and everybody was hugging each other. It was an incredibly emotional victory."
Adding to the emotion was the fact that Anderson's father, Dick, a former Colorado standout and All-Pro safety with the Miami Dolphins, attended the game at Ann Arbor, Mich.
"That was nice," Anderson said of his father's presence. "I feel great about it. It's probably one of the greatest plays in college football."
FIELD OF SCREAMS
Banning High's football team will return to the site of recent disasters when it visits Daniels Field for an attractive Southern Pacific Conference opener Friday night against San Pedro.
The Pilots have lost their last three games at Daniels Field by a total of five points. After upset losses to Washington, 7-6, and Crenshaw, 9-6, at Daniels Field last season, Banning Coach Ed Paculba said he would never play another home game at the San Pedro facility.
"It's a little different now," Paculba said. "We're going as visitors. It's (San Pedro's) home field, not our home field."
Banning assistant Titus Tuiasosopo says the Pilots have nothing to fear in the San Pedro sod.
"You just have to go out and play, no matter what field you're on," he said.
Tuiasosopo said the return of All-City guard Andrew Lalau and tailback Ricardo Diaz last week in a 21-7 victory over South Gate caused a marked improvement in the Pilots' running game. Both players missed the first two games--losses to Muir and Long Beach Poly--because of knee injuries.
Diaz rushed for 117 yards in 18 carries, many of them over the right side of the line anchored by Lalau (6 feet, 260 pounds) and tackle Fa'aisea Mailo (6-5, 315), a promising junior who transferred from Hawaii.
Our predictions on the eve of league-opening play for most of the area's prep football teams:
Bay League--Hawthorne, Leuzinger and Peninsula (combined record of 6-2-1) will again battle for the title and three playoff spots, as they have for the past three seasons. That leaves West Torrance, Torrance, North Torrance, Inglewood and Santa Monica (combined record of 2-13) to fight for a possible wild-card berth, although it will be difficult for any of them to finish with the .500 overall record required for wild-card consideration. Predicted finish: 1. Leuzinger; 2. Hawthorne; 3. Peninsula; 4. West Torrance; 5. Torrance; 6. Santa Monica; 7. North Torrance; 8. Inglewood.
Ocean League--There are four teams, perhaps five, with legitimate shots at the title. Leading the pack is Mira Costa, which has the league's best running back in Mike Fikes, a strong defense and last season's South Bay Coach of the Year, Don Morrow. Defending champion Culver City, the only team to beat Mira Costa in 1993, has the most talent in the league, but has played erratically so far. Predicted finish: 1. Mira Costa; 2. Culver City; 3. Beverly Hills; 4. South Torrance; 5. Morningside; 6. Redondo; 7. El Segundo; 8. Centennial.
Southern Pacific Conference--Carson is 0-3. Victory-starved Banning, after losing its first two games, treated last week's triumph over South Gate as if it were a monumental feat instead of the routine accomplishment it really was. Yes, it's a brave, new world for the area's City Section teams, with San Pedro in the leader's role. Or did you forget that the Pirates had the best conference record last season? Predicted finish: 1. San Pedro; 2. Carson; 3. Banning; 4. Dorsey; 5. Crenshaw; 6. Washington; 7. Gardena; 8. Narbonne.
Hawthorne Coach Dan Robbins seemed to know what was coming when his team played Mater Dei last week.
"Mater Dei is a mistake-free football team, and we have to step up to that level," Robbins said before the game.
The Cougars took their game to a new level, all right--the basement. They committed seven turnovers as Mater Dei rolled to a 52-11 victory.
In the rout, Hawthorne may have played the worst quarter of football in school history. The Cougars lost four consecutive fumbles late in the second quarter, helping Mater Dei score 38 points in an eight-minute span and take a 45-0 halftime lead.
It was Hawthorne's worst defeat in four seasons under Robbins, eclipsing a 36-25 loss to Loyola in 1992.
A demanding nonleague schedule has left Carson 0-3, but Coach David Williams doesn't believe the disappointing start has damaged his players' confidence.
"The morale of the kids is fine," Williams said. "We'd all prefer to have three wins under our belt. More importantly, we know we're improving as a football team. I think that is the focus, so hopefully we can be there in December for the playoffs."
One Carson player who has been missing in action, at least offensively, is J.R. Redmond. The senior running back-receiver, who entered the season billed as a player-of-the-year candidate, has totaled only 90 yards rushing and 47 yards receiving in three games.
"He's there," Williams said. "I'm sure he'll be a major factor. His attitude is there and his work ethic is there. Our focus is on doing better as a team and he realizes that."
Redmond has had a bigger impact on defense, where he plays safety. He ranks third on the team in tackles and had an interception last week in a 23-16 loss to Los Alamitos.
Sophomore middle blocker Tate Medley, a former Mira Costa High standout, has been a pleasant surprise for the Loyola Marymount women's volleyball team, which improved to 6-5 Tuesday night with a 15-3, 15-4, 15-7 victory over winless Cal State Fullerton.
Medley entered the week leading West Coast Conference players in hitting percentage (.395) and had already played in as many games, 24, as she did in her entire freshman season. She had career-highs of 15 kills and four blocks Saturday in Loyola's four-game victory over Rice at Notre Dame's Golden Dome Invitational.
The Lions have also gotten a boost from setter Tracy Holman, a freshman from West Torrance, who beat out three-year starter Robin Ortgiesen (Mira Costa) for the job. Holman entered the week leading the WCC in assists per match (12.69).
Loyola opens WCC play this weekend, playing host to Santa Clara on Friday and St. Mary's on Saturday. Both matches start at 7 p.m.
* El Camino College quarterback Steve Sarkisian, who has passed for more than 800 yards in two games, will lead the Warriors (2-0) against host Golden West (0-2-1) at 7 p.m. Saturday in a Mission Conference game. Sarkisian passed for 408 yards and four touchdowns to complement an impressive defensive effort Saturday in a 28-10 victory over Fullerton. . . . Harbor College (0-3) plays host to Moorpark (1-1) at 1 p.m. Saturday in a Western State Conference game.
* Celeste Adams of Loyola Marymount was named Soccer America's national goalie of the week for her play in a 1-0 victory over ninth-ranked Santa Clara on Sept. 11. Adams, a freshman from Bishop Montgomery, had five saves in the shutout, which was the biggest victory for the Loyola women's team in two years of existence. Adams was also named West Coast Conference defensive player of the week.
* Richard Gallien of Manhattan Beach was recently hired as an assistant men's tennis coach at Pepperdine.