First Start Is a Success for the Latest McKeon

If the name Jason McKeon sounds familiar, it's no coincidence.

The Canyon High quarterback is the 17th in a long line of cousins who have played football at Canyon and Hart since the early 1980s.

Jason is the youngest son of John McKeon, who is the third of five brothers who fathered the 17 football cousins. Oldest of the five brothers is Howard "Buck" McKeon, serving his third term in Congress.

Jason completed six of nine passes for 56 yards in his first varsity start Friday, a 23-13 victory over Camarillo.

He has a tough legacy to follow. The only other cousin to play quarterback was Steve McKeon, who was an All-Southern Section selection at Hart in 1994 and '95.

"There's a little pressure," Jason said. "The older ones have always set the standard and the new ones have to take that and do better."

But Jason is not the last of the McKeons. Cousins J.K. and Ben Tyler, younger brothers of Steve, are in elementary school.

Smith questionable: Poly's Steve Smith, one of the top running backs in the Valley Pac-8 Conference, sustained a high ankle sprain in the third quarter against Kennedy and is questionable for the game Friday against L.A. Wilson.

Smith, who rushed for 163 yards and scored on runs of 71 and 81 yards against Kennedy, did not practice Monday.

"He's got to be 100% if he's going to go on Friday," co-coach Lee Jackson said. "We want him for the long haul."

Upon further review: Sylmar Coach Jeff Engilman has seen the game film enough to know exactly what went wrong in the Spartans' 22-19 loss to Notre Dame.

"And each time I see it, it gets worse," he said.

Although Sylmar outgained Notre Dame, 289-168, the run-oriented Spartans had 15 runs for one yard or fewer. And that's not including four sacks.

Sylmar usually spends about 40 minutes on Monday watching film of its previous game. This week, that session was markedly longer.

"It was kind of a heated session for an hour and a half," Engilman said.

The reason: four turnovers, eight penalties, a dropped touchdown pass, dozens of missed blocks and more than a few blown coverages.

Family feud: It could be a challenging week for Michelle Hayashida, wife of El Camino Real Coach Rick Hayashida. Michelle is an English teacher at Chaminade, which plays the Conquistadores on Friday.

"I told her part of her job was to pilfer notes from her husband," Chaminade Coach Ed Croson said.

Rick Hayashida used to coach at Chaminade and still knows many Chaminade parents. "This game for me is a no-win situation," Rick said.

But what school colors will the Hayashidas' young son, Richard, be wearing this week?

"El Camino," Rick said.

It works: St. Francis Coach Bill Redell keeps running the fumblerooski, and opponents keep getting burned. Offensive guard Luis Guerrero ran 46 yards for a touchdown against Arcadia. Redell said his teams have scored at least seven touchdowns on fumblerooski plays in his career.

The trick play involves the ball being placed on the ground after the snap, and a guard picking it up while the rest of his teammates run in the opposite direction.

Opening curves: There were more than a few surprises on opening night for Golden League teams.

Antelope Valley, perennially one of the region's most dominant rushing programs, was limited to one yard by Bakersfield.

Highland, one of the region's top passing programs, threw for eight yards against Valencia.

Quartz Hill, which won the Littlerock summer passing tournament, had quarterback Clifton Herbert rush for 129 yards and a touchdown against Hart.

Antelope Valley, Highland and Quartz Hill each lost.

Palmdale, which planned to scrap its I-formation to better utilize elusive quarterback Johnathan Thompson in the veer option, watched Thompson throw for 118 yards and three touchdowns in a 35-6 rout of Barstow.

Tough mark: Montclair Prep has compiled a 74-12 record in the 1990s, but the Mounties suffered their worst beating of the decade Saturday in a 44-0 loss to Whittier Christian.

Previously, the worst loss was a 44-6 defeat to Mira Costa in the first round of the Southern Section Division IX playoffs last year, meaning the Mounties have been outscored, 88-6, in their last two games.

Frequent opponent: Bethel Christian will play Santa Maria Valley Christian for the third time in less than a year on Saturday when the teams meet at 1 p.m. in Lancaster.

Bethel Christian defeated Valley Christian, 32-14, in the third game last season, but the Lions bounced back for a 52-44 victory in the Eight-Man Large Schools Division title game.

Breakthrough: First Lutheran ended a 24-game losing streak with a 40-0 season-opening victory over Pacific Christian. The Falcons' winning streak could reach two Friday when they host Santa Clarita Christian at 3 p.m.

Santa Clarita Christian will be playing its first game at the eight-man level.

Wise words: UCLA quarterback Cade McNown and kicker Chris Sailer were speakers at a Chaminade High athletic event Sunday night in West Hills.

Sailer, who attended Notre Dame High, told athletes, "The most important thing you can have is confidence. You have to believe in yourself." He also pleaded, "Whatever teams are playing Notre Dame, take it easy."

McNown promised, "We're going to win a national championship--that's only if Gabe Crecion and Jason Zdenek step up." Crecion and Zdenek are UCLA players and Chaminade graduates.

Job security: Any quarterback who throws 10 interceptions in two games would fear for his job.

Any quarterback except Nick Czernek.

The Newbury Park senior had four passes intercepted in a 31-28 loss to Sahuaro, Ariz., last week. In a loss to Arroyo Grande in the first round of the playoffs last season, he had six intercepted.

But he also passed for 288 yards and three touchdowns against Sahuaro and for a Ventura County-record 498 yards against Arroyo Grande.

The pick problem must be addressed, but Coach Georgy Hurley isn't about to pull the plug on Czernek or on the offensive scheme that has averaged nearly 3,000 yards passing per season throughout the 1990s.

"A lot of it goes back to the lack of effort made this summer by many of our players, especially our seniors," Hurley said. "They just don't know each other well enough. There is a lack of timing."

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