MIDWEEK REPORT : HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL UPDATE : It Takes Advanced Math to Track Poly’s Hackett
Logarithms, derivatives and the Pythagorean theorem make most high school students shudder.
But any prep athlete would be interested in learning how Leaford Hackett is compiling such numbers for Poly High.
Hackett, who has 638 yards receiving and 358 yards rushing, makes up 66.3% of Poly’s offense.
In comparison, Emmitt Smith provides 37.4% of the Dallas Cowboys’ offense. Barry Sanders makes up a mere 35.2% of the Detroit Lions’ offense.
Hackett, who leads City Section players in the region with 42 catches, only wishes he could work his numerical wizardry on Poly’s 1-7 record, which includes a forfeit victory over San Fernando.
“I go out there to have fun,” Hackett said. “All I want to do is play offense.”
He nearly quit earlier this season because he was tired of losing. Coach Tim Feeley is glad he stayed.
“That’s all we have,” Feeley said. “He provides all of it.”
Second-ranked Sylmar had to rebound from a 16-point second-half deficit to down North Hollywood, 27-24, last Friday, but Coach Jeff Engilman apparently has more to worry about than just keeping the undefeated Spartans focused.
Engilman, a City Section coach for 21 years, has been reprimanded by Sylmar principal Linda Calvo for making a racial remark to a player last month during practice. Engilman immediately apologized to the team and his coaches and he self-reported the incident to Calvo the following day, admitting that he used “the n-word.”
On Tuesday, the player’s father--who didn’t know about the incident until hearing about it in the stands at the North Hollywood game--met with Engilman and Calvo. Engilman repeated his apology.
District administrator Ramon Castillo, Calvo’s supervisor, said he spoke with the player’s father by telephone Wednesday morning.
“He is satisfied with the apology and the reprimand that the coach received and said he would like to put the matter behind him and move ahead,” Castillo said.
Castillo also took more than a dozen phone calls from people supporting Engilman.
“I’ve even gotten calls from out of state on this,” Castillo said.
Engilman is trying to get the Spartans ready for Friday’s Valley Pac-8 Conference game against Grant.
"[The team] is having a little bit of trouble getting focused because they are spending their time getting their parents to call [on my behalf],” Engilman said. “But I think it’s affecting the coaching staff more than the kids. I’m looking at films, but I’m not seeing them.”
James Jenkins, a sailor based in San Diego, spent his weekend leave watching his kid brother play football for Hueneme and had to be inspired by Ronney Jenkins’ performance in a 42-28 victory over San Marcos.
Ronney rushed for a school-record 381 yards, five touchdowns and two two-point conversions. His yardage is third-best in Ventura County history, trailing only a pair of 400-plus performances by George Keiaho, formerly of Buena.
“I really felt my team was depending on me,” said Ronney, who had 35 carries. “I fought through being tired. It inspired me having my brother there. He’s important to me.”
James Jenkins, a former player who graduated from Hueneme in 1994, wore No. 44, now worn by the Jenkins’ first cousin, junior linebacker Byron Williams.
Is anything in football more entertaining than a perfectly executed trick play? Maybe a handful of perfectly executed trick plays.
Glendale, winless in two Pacific League games, threw caution to the wind last week against Pasadena. The Dynamiters employed two reverses, two fake reverses, a reverse pass, an onside kick and two passes from fullback Jason Klintworth to quarterback Jeremy Callister. The gimmickry worked to near perfection in a 30-29 victory.
“We did just about everything there was to do,” first-year Coach Steve Pinkston said with a laugh. “It was incredible how many times they worked.”
Most successful was the Klint-worth-Callister connection, which resulted in third-down gains of 17 and 11 yards to sustain touchdown drives. On both plays, Klintworth took a pitch, swept right, then lobbed the ball to a wide open Callister in the left flat.
“Those plays help, especially against a team like Pasadena that’s a lot faster and bigger than us,” Callister said. “It puts them on their heels.”
Glendale has called about 20 deception plays this season. And Callister hinted that more are in store this week.
“I guess we’ll be pulling out some more against Muir,” Callister said.
Donell Wickett of Ventura last week set a school record with 221 receiving yards against Rio Mesa, bettering the previous standard of 187 he set earlier this season. Wickett, who is 6 feet 2, and 6-6 Charles Dixon give quarterback Kyle Schommer a couple of tall targets at wide receiver.
“Our passing game is really clicking,” Coach Phil McCune said. “It’s as good as it’s ever been here.”
Schommer, a senior first-year starter, ranks third among passers in the region with a school-record 1,640 yards. He has passed for 11 touchdowns and rushed for seven.
Wickett has 34 catches for 783 yards and Dixon has 26 for 391.
“Schommer has done a nice job,” McCune said. “He has that feeling that he can make plays happen all the time.” Ventura has a porous defense and, until last week, a nearly nonexistent running game, but Schommer & Co. have kept the Cougars in the playoff hunt.
Ventura has won three in a row, but needs to defeat either Dos Pueblos or Santa Barbara in its last two games to have a shot at postseason play.
Big Men on Campus
Mammoth linemen from St. Bonaventure are best known for their work clearing a path for Seraph tailback Topi Sanchez, the region’s leading scorer among Southern Section players. But the big boys can play defense, too.
St. Bonaventure’s front is comprised of full-time members Sam Benner at end and David Bernal at tackle, plus platoon players Brian Carr, Brandon Elliott and Steve Chase, who rotate into the remaining positions. The line has 170 tackles and 27 sacks, including nine sacks against L.A. Baptist.
“We’re doing all this without blitzing,” St. Bonaventure Coach Jon Mack said. “We have good pressure and good coverage, which is key.”
Bernal (6-1, 294), Benner (6-5, 249) and Elliott (6-4, 241) were highly regarded entering the season and are often double-teamed, benefiting Carr (6-3, 188) and Chase (5-11, 189).
The unit’s play has attracted attention from several college recruiters. Benner and Elliott, both seniors, are the immediate targets. Bernal is a future prospect.
“The coaches call for film on Sam and Brandon and then they call back and say ‘Who’s that No. 88 [Bernal]? What grade is he in?’ ” Mack said.
Kilpatrick, a juvenile correctional facility, has a team that never has a returning starter.
Boys stay at the institution for no more than a year, which makes coaching the Mustangs a more-challenging task than most.
Many years, more than three-quarters of the boys on Kilpatrick’s roster have never before played football. The first month of the season is usually spent teaching fundamentals and molding the players into a cohesive unit.
Some of the boys are playing only because they have been ordered to by a judge. Others are originally from rival high schools or gangs.
“The football program is good for many of our kids because they are forced to know and understand each other,” Kilpatrick Coach Alex Williams said.
Kilpatrick typically improves dramatically over the course of a season, and this year is no exception. After a 1-3 start, the Mustangs are 4-4 and have established themselves as a legitimate force for the Division X postseason.
“I’m glad we played them early in the league schedule,” said Village Christian Coach Mike Plaisance, whose team defeated the Mustangs, 6-0. “They just get better and better every week.”
Roaring About Lyons
Jack Bowman is mystified. For the third year in a row, the Saugus coach has a player he considers Division I caliber who is not attracting interest from major college recruiters.
In 1993, he had running back Chris Johnson, who rushed for 1,398 yards and 19 touchdowns.
In 1994, he had defensive end Matt Gillis, who had 16 sacks among other big plays.
This year, he has defensive end Derek Lyons, who has a team-high 11 sacks. The 6-1, 223-pound senior, who would probably be a linebacker in college, has been contacted only by Division II and III teams.
“The college recruiters just blow me away,” Bowman said. “They say the linebackers have to be 6-3, 230, but the ones playing on TV all seem to be smaller and very fast. [Lyons] plays big. He’s the best lineman I’ve had overall.”
Burroughs Coach Robert dos Remedios backs Bowman.
“Lyons and the other end kicked our butts,” dos Remedios said after a recent loss. “That was the most physical defense I’ve faced. I felt worried for the safety of my kids.”
Around the Leagues
* CITY SECTION
Trailing North Hollywood, 24-20, with six minutes to play last Friday, Sylmar Coach Jeff Engilman had a flashback and promptly pushed the panic button. He called for the “Bone,” a formation the Spartans hadn’t used since coming back from a 21-0 deficit in the 4-A quarterfinals last season against Banning. Same formation, same result. Behind the running of Gerrod Taylor, Sylmar surged to a 27-24 victory. Taylor also led the 28-27 comeback victory over Banning. . . . Van Nuys quarterback Robert Williamson, who owns a 4.0 grade-point average, has been equally sharp on the field. Williamson, a junior, threw three touchdown passes against Monroe. He has nine, tied for the lead among City Section players in the region.
Quarterback Aaron Arnold of Monroe had statistics any running back would envy in a 43-23 victory over Van Nuys. Arnold rushed for 211 yards and four touchdowns in five carries--a 42.2 yards-per-carry average. “That’s unheard of,” Coach Fred Cuccia said. . . . North Hollywood controlled the tempo against Sylmar by successfully running the ball and also draining the play clock before every snap. The Huskies just couldn’t make a 16-0 halftime lead hold up. “We played a perfect first half,” North Hollywood Coach Gary Gray said. “But they beat us, 27-8, in the second half.” The Huskies rushed for 265 yards--nearly twice as many as Reseda, the only other team to gain more than 100 yards on the ground against Sylmar. The Regents gained 143. . . . For Grant, Lalo Torres is a lone offensive threat. Torres, who lines up at slot receiver, wingback or tailback, has 22 receptions for 241 yards, fourth among City receivers in the region. “He can be anywhere, any time,” Coach Bill Foster said. “Hopefully, we’ll find him in the end zone.”
Even if San Fernando has to forfeit three victories for using an ineligible player, Coach Sean Blunt believes the Tigers might make the playoffs. Carson forfeited three games last season, finishing with a 2-8 record, but was selected for the 4-A playoffs based on the strength of its schedule. Two of San Fernando’s nonconference losses came against Westchester and Hart, which have 6-2 records. . . . Granada Hills will have beefed up security for its final two games against San Fernando and Kennedy, but not because of last Friday’s game-ending brawl against Cleveland. Bob Weinberg, Granada Hills’ assistant principal, said extra security was planned beforehand due to neighborhood rivalries with both schools. . . . Taft linebacker Antwan Simpson might be back in the lineup for Friday’s game against Kennedy. Simpson suffered a leg injury last month.
Fans at last Friday’s game between Birmingham and Chatsworth saw a streaker run the length of the field at halftime as the teams headed for the locker room. . . Cleveland lost two starters with injuries before its fight with Granada Hills left Terry Lindell with a concussion. Fullback Ramon Venegas suffered a concussion and lineman Leo Almodovar suffered a knee injury. Both are questionable for Friday’s game against Chatsworth. . . Chatsworth Coach Myron Gibford is frustrated by the Chancellors’ lack of consistency. “We make one or two good plays, then we make a mistake and it kills us,” he said.
Ryan Block’s three interceptions last week against Alemany were the most by a Crespi player in one game since 1983, when Joe Broussard had four against Palos Verdes. . . . Alemany has a quarterback controversy now that senior Kevin Peterson has returned from a knee injury. Peterson returned in last week’s 22-0 loss to Crespi, but junior Gary Nieto has filled in capably. The Indians have multiple bumps, bruises and ills. Tailback Ryan Ricks and middle linebacker Mike Pacheco both suffered concussions against Crespi and are probable for Friday’s game against St. Paul. Ricks is battling nausea and headaches. Left guard John Catino is outwith strep throat. Alemany committed five turnovers against Crespi, including three interceptions. “We played like Santa Claus in October,” Coach Pat Degnan said.
It took eight games, but quarterbacks Kevin Carrasco of Saugus and Steve McKeon of Hart, players who guide the two best teams in the league, last week scored their first touchdowns. . . . Anthony Smith of Saugus has eight receptions for 154 yards and three touchdowns. . . . Junior Monte McKeon of Canyon broke his collarbone for a second time and is lost for the season. McKeon was the starter for first three weeks until he was injured against Crespi. . . . Hart running back Ted Iacenda won’t schedule any recruiting trips until after the season, but Penn State, Stanford and Notre Dame are said to be his favorites. . . . Burbank Coach John Hazelton, whose program is being investigated by the school district, said he will consider resigning at the end of the season. “It’ll be easy to say I better re-evaluate [my future] after this one,” Hazelton said. “But there’s a core of kids that I’d love to return and coach, and I feel loyal to them.”
Littlerock receiver JaQuay Bangs had nine receptions for 134 yards and a touchdown last week. He previously had three receptions for 50 yards. . . . If Quartz Hill looks good at 7-1, the Rebels could be even better next year. Twenty-nine of 45 players on the roster are juniors. . . . Antelope Valley has a region-high 372 points, yet starting quarterback Bobby Brown has only four points--a pair of two-point conversions. . . . Sophomore Grant Livermont has completed only 46% of his passes for 597 yards and more interceptions (five) than touchdowns (four), but offensive coordinator Carl Bledsoe credits him for leading surprising Palmdale into third place. Said Bledsoe: “He’s only 15, but he’s a great emotional leader. The seniors even respect him.”
With 88 yards against Hoover, Crescenta Valley sophomore Kenneth Pritchett became the third Falcon player in as many years to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. Chris Hedrick rushed for 1,127 yards last season and Erik LaCom gained 1,185 in 1993. Pritchett ranks sixth on the school’s season rushing list with 1,107.
Ventura got its running game untracked behind Abundio Marin’s 157 yards and three touchdowns in a 28-6 victory over Rio Mesa. “A lot of it was just him,” Coach Phil McCune said. “Abundio made good stuff happen on his own.” Danny Torres, a 5-6, 135-pound senior cornerback, has been a catalyst in the Cougars’ three-game winning streak. “He’s not strong or fast but he has great heart,” McCune said. . . . A decision to go for a two-point conversion after a penalty moved the ball half the distance to the goal line cost Oxnard early in its game against Dos Pueblos. A running play failed and the Yellowjackets were forced to go for two again after scoring with three minutes to play. A pass failed and Oxnard lost, 14-12. Three transfers from Rio Mesa were eligible for the first time, and all three played well, Oxnard Coach Wes Morimune said. Courtney Palmore rushed for 54 yards in six carries and played free safety, Donald Arguelles played defensive end and offensive tackle, and Mark Valdivia played outside linebacker. Oxnard’s best player, senior middle linebacker/offensive guard Danny Ramirez, returned after missing a game with a thigh injury. . . . Rashadd Cousins was instrumental for Hueneme in a 42-28 victory over San Marcos. He intercepted two passes and made a 33-yard touchdown catch to pull the Vikings to within 28-26. A two-point conversion--Hueneme’s 14th of the season--tied the score. . . . Buena remains in playoff contention despite losses to all three Santa Barbara-area teams. The Bulldogs have the league’s most-balanced offense--1,367 rushing yards and 1,364 passing yards.
Westlake will retire Billy Miller’s jersey No. 33 at halftime of Friday night’s game against Simi Valley. Miller, a high school All-American now at USC, is the first Westlake player so honored. Westlake’s Joey Cuppari, a sophomore safety, made three interceptions last week. Steve Aylsworth, who lost the quarterback job to Casey Preston, is not lacking for playing time: The senior played slotback, wide receiver, tailback, fullback and defensive back against Royal. He also returned punts. . . . Chris Poling has taken over at tailback for Agoura, giving the Chargers two sophomores in the backfield. Left-handed sophomore quarterback Ryan McCann has passed for 1,096 yards and 10 touchdowns. Several players took bows following the Chargers’ first victory: linebacker Don West, who recovered two fumbles, defensive back Shayne Sobel, who had two interceptions and returned a punt 88 yards for a touchdown, fullback Matt Greene, who had five receptions and blocked well, and 310-pound tackle Elliot Silvers, who continued his consistent blocking. . . . Blane Saipaia, a talented two-way lineman, is a bright spot for Channel Islands. “He loves to compete,” Coach Joel Gershon said. “He hardly ever leaves the field. Sheer fatigue is the only reason.” Channel Islands completed only four passes against Newbury Park, but players named Juarez caught three of them. Steve and Michael are twins. Rudy is not related. . . . John Gonzalez is averaging more than 40 yards a punt for Simi Valley. He made two of more than 60 yards last week. He is also the Pioneers’ leading receiver. . . . The campaign to install artificial turf in its new stadium has died, Royal officials said. “Thank goodness,” Coach Gene Uebelhardt said. The concrete stadium--which is scheduled to be completed in time for next season--will seat 4,500 and include a nine-lane Tartan track. . . . Thousand Oaks has allowed only eight rushing yards in 54 attempts the past three games. . . . After allowing Channel Islands only 47 yards, Newbury Park continues to have the league’s top defense. The Panthers surrender an average of 70 rushing yards and 91 passing yards a game.
Notre Dame defensive back Jorge Piedra is tied for the region lead with six interceptions, including two he returned for touchdowns. Notre Dame’s record of 10 interceptions was set by Reggie Dominique in 1988. The Knights made 22 interceptions last season en route to winning the Southern Section Division III championship. . . . Jason Giovannettone of Chaminade returned from an ankle injury last week in a 21-6 victory over Serra. The senior tailback might have been motivated by watching his replacement, Scot Davis, who would be a starter at many schools. Davis rushed for 148 yards against Bishop Montgomery and 82 yards against St. Bernard. . . . St. Francis defensive back Mike Siordia is questionable for Friday night’s game against Chaminade because of an injured wrist. Siordia also plays wide receiver. Jesse Estrada, a 5-9, 150-pound defensive back, has been promoted from the Golden Knights’ freshman team.
La Canada tight end Parker Hensley, a 6-2, 200-pound junior, has caught the eye of Nebraska recruiters. Coaches from San Diego State and Nevada Las Vegas were in attendance Friday night watching running back Sam Paneno, the region’s leading rusher. College scouts are interested in Paneno as a defensive back, Coach Jim Clausen said.
Andy Super of Santa Clara has 23 receptions for 269 yards and a touchdown in the last two games--losses to Santa Paula and Nordhoff. . . . After excelling as a linebacker last year, Russell Farrar of Nordhoff is now producing from both sides of scrimmage. Farrar last week rushed for 220 yards and two touchdowns in 11 carries as a fullback. He has gained 718 yards, mostly between the tackles. Shane Barrett led the Rangers with 17 tackles against Santa Clara, splitting time between the line and linebacker. . . . Calabasas quarterback Scott Quigley, who hyperextended a knee two weeks ago, is probable for Friday’s game against Santa Clara. The Coyotes might use a shotgun formation to give Quigley additional time to maneuver. Lineman Tim Lyons, who missed three games with a back injury, played on offense last week against St. Bonaventure. He was an all-league defensive lineman in 1994. . . . Moorpark is finally healthy. Dan LaFleur, a running back and safety, is the only Musketeer starter who is expected to miss Friday night’s game against Nordhoff. After missing three games with a sprained ankle, running back Michael Aguilar rushed for 106 yards in 20 carries.
Oak Park, defending league champion, solidified its last-place standing with a 34-8 loss to Carpinteria. On the bright side, the Eagles put together a nine-play, 77-yard drive to open the scoring. . . . Andrew Montenegro of St. Bonaventure, a defensive back and receiver, has clearance to play tonight against Oak Park after missing the Seraphs’ last three games due to a hairline fracture of his left fibula. . . . Fillmore has been helped by the return of senior James Cummings, who has played only 3 1/2 games due to injuries. Cummings started the season at quarterback but shifted to tailback and last week rushed 14 times for 133 yards and a touchdown.
Village Christian has forced 12 turnovers in its last four games. Junior linebacker Darin Chu has accounted for six of them--five fumble recoveries and an interception. . . . L.A. Baptist has been penalized almost 500 yards in its last four games.
Paraclete running back Sal Iabichella has 11 touchdowns, scoring once every 5.9 times he has touched the ball.
Ten days after having arthroscopic surgery on his knee, Danny Buhler of St. Genevieve rushed for 49 yards in nine carries in a 20-0 victory over Bell-Jeff. Benched the previous week, Vince Pisano came back to throw three touchdown passes for the Valiants. . . . Mike Morgan of Bell-Jeff caught three passes for 46 yards against St. Genevieve, only the third time this year that a Guard receiver has made as many as three receptions in a game.
Montclair Prep plays Palm Springs Southwest on Friday, its third consecutive game against a first-year school. The Mounties last week allowed a season-high 162 yards rushing against Sultana, but they still have the top-ranked defense in the region.
Contributing: Mike Bresnahan, Dana Haddad, Steve Henson, Vince Kowalick, Michael Lazarus, Paige A. Leech, Tris Wykes, Peter Yoon.