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Rivers Recasts Hollywood as an Improving Program

Forgive Gyasi Rivers for experiencing a brief moment of euphoria earlier this month after Hollywood ended its football losing streak at 42 games.

“I felt like crying,” he said. “I felt like running around the field naked.”

Rivers kept his uniform on but hasn’t stopped running in helping Hollywood reverse four consecutive years of repeated losses.

In the season opener against Los Angeles Belmont, the junior running back rushed for 173 yards. In the next game against Los Angeles, he gained 168 yards. Both were victories and both made Rivers so popular he could run for student body president and win in a landslide.

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“He kind of gives the whole campus a spark,” Coach Jeff Trovatten said.

Of course, a 48-7 defeat to Los Angeles Lincoln last week brought the Sheiks back to reality, but it doesn’t take away from the progress being made.

It’s no coincidence that since Rivers joined the varsity this season, Hollywood has become a different team. At 6 feet 1, 175 pounds, Rivers is the best athlete the school has had in years.

As a basketball player on the freshman team two seasons ago, he averaged two dunks a game. Last fall, he played football for the first time and was a dominant rusher on the freshman-sophomore team. In track, he won the City Section triple-jump championship, reaching 45 feet 5 inches and finishing 11th in the state.

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His big-play rushing skills have added a new dimension to Hollywood’s double-wing offense. Most importantly, he has helped boost the confidence of his teammates.

“When you have a player of Rivers’ caliber, it gives you a chance to be competitive and raises the level of other players,” Trovatten said.

Give credit to Trovatten for not bailing out on Hollywood. Going into this season, his record as coach was 0-30. Only once did any of his teams even hold the lead in a game.

“It was tough,” he said. “I figured when I got here, somebody was going to have to go through their licks.”

But his dedication and hard work kept the program going. And Rivers’ arrival changed everything.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Trovatten said. “Now the players come to practice with a smile on their face.”

Rivers said he was initially scared to play football because of the hitting involved.

“Now I want to give the hits,” he said.

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Rivers was good enough to play varsity last season, but his mother wanted him to stay on the freshman-sophomore team.

Hollywood entered this season two losses shy of the state record for most consecutive defeats held by Moorpark at 44 games.

It was that record of mediocrity that kept Rivers from attending any Hollywood games as a freshman.

“I wasn’t going to waste my time,” he said.

Now people are showing up to games, with Rivers providing the entertainment.

Last spring, he said athletes from other schools were telling him to transfer. He has discovered he’s needed right where he is.

“I’m trying to put Hollywood back on the map,” he said.

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Hollywood isn’t the only program ending its losing ways in football.

Alhambra Keppel is 2-0 after entering this season with a 37-game losing streak.

Westminster La Quinta won its first game on the field since 2002, ending a 23-game losing streak.

Perhaps some of the good fortune from Hollywood, Keppel and La Quinta can rub off on Calabasas, which has lost 24 consecutive games.

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Alex Stepheson, a 6-9 center from North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake, is getting closer to making his college choice for basketball.

He has visited Georgia Tech and North Carolina. He’s scheduled to visit Connecticut this weekend and Washington on Oct. 8. UCLA is also under consideration.

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Encino Crespi (2-0) has yet to crack The Times’ top 25, but the Celts can make a strong case depending on their performance in their next three games against Lake Balboa Birmingham, Ventura St. Bonaventure and Canyon Country Canyon.

Crespi’s defensive line could be one of the best in the Southland, with heavily recruited tackle Sione Fua, run-stopper Jeremiah Tupola and hard-charging end D.J. Holt.

Eric Sondheimer can be reached at eric.sondheimer@latimes.com.

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Streaky situations

A look at the longest winning and losing streaks in Southland high school football:

WINNING

*--* No. School ('05 Rec) Last loss 24 SO Notre Dame (2-0) Sept. 19, 2003, Westlake, 31-7 20 Oaks Christian (2-0) Nov. 14, 2003, Oak Park, 27-24 17 Mission Viejo (3-0) Dec. 13, 2003, Hart, 25-7 16 Serrano (2-0) Dec. 6, 2003, Rdg Burroughs, 53-31 15 Orange Lutheran (2-0) Sept. 10, 2004, Mater Dei, 21-7 13 St. Bonaventure (2-0) Sept. 24, 2004, Lakewood, 24-7 12 Tesoro (2-0) Oct. 1, 2004, San Clemente, 42-23 11 Crespi (2-0) Oct. 8, 2004, CC Canyon, 28-22

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LOSING

*--* No. School ('05 Rec) Last win/tie 24 Calabasas (0-2) Nov. 1, 2002, Newbury Park, 28-21 20 Ganesha (0-2) Sept. 11, 2003, Sierra Vista, 27-14 19 Murphy (0-1) Nov. 14, 2002, Bell-Jeff, 59-26 17 Laguna Hills (0-2) Oct. 10, 2003, Capistrano Valley, 34-10 13 Buena (0-2) Nov. 13, 2003, Dos Pueblos, 27-27 13 Etiwanda (0-2) Nov. 14, 2003, Los Osos, 46-6 13 Kilpatrick (0-2) Nov. 14, 2003, Montclair Prep, 28-14 13 St. Bernard (0-2) Nov. 21, 2003, Temple City, 34-17 Note: longest winning streak in City Section belongs to Fairfax (8); longest losing streaks in City belong to Los Angeles (11), Palisade s (9) and Van Nuys (8)

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