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Receiver Works to Improve Prospects

A smorgasbord of notes, quotes and opinions from across the Southland:

Here’s a news flash: Earning All-City, All-Southern Section or all-league recognition doesn’t mean an athlete is instantly scholarship material.

Scott McKnight, the standout senior receiver for defending Southern Section Division IX champion Rancho Santa Margarita Tesoro, had terrific statistics and achievements during his first two years on the varsity.

“My junior and sophomore years, I had strong seasons, but if you looked at the [video] tape, I wasn’t exactly a major-college prospect,” McKnight said.

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Size, speed, strength -- they all come into the equation when a college football coach wants to award one of his 85 scholarships. In the case of the 6-foot, 178-pound McKnight, he recognized what he needed to improve on, dedicated himself to summer workouts and is now a major-college prospect.

He has become one of the top receivers in the Southland, having caught 32 passes for 492 yards and five touchdowns for Tesoro (3-0). In the season opener against Laguna Hills, he caught 13 passes for 241 yards. He didn’t rest on his postseason awards from 2004; he’s now stronger and faster than he was last season.

During a nonstop summer of training, McKnight attended four college team camps and three combines. He lives 15 minutes from the beach, but from June 1 until the end of July, he had no time for relaxing on the sand.

He worked on increasing his strength, running more precise pass routes and gaining more explosiveness on sprints. It has paid off. He has one firm scholarship offer from Boise State, with others to come.

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“He’s gotten better at everything,” Coach Jim O’Connell said. “He’s fast, he’s talented, but the bottom line of all bottom lines is he catches the ball, whether it’s a good pass or bad pass. He makes plays.”

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The South Bay doesn’t know what to make of the 0-3 starts for 11-time City champion Wilmington Banning and 10-time City champion Carson.

Proud alumni of the schools don’t like losses. But until stability takes hold in the coaching staffs, both programs could struggle for a while.

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There are two sophomore football players in Orange County with big-time futures.

Charles Orrison, a 6-1, 180-pound linebacker from Huntington Beach Marina, more than held his own against unbeaten Mission Viejo last week. He’s tough, aggressive and has good quickness.

“He’s going to be a great football player,” Coach Mike Dodd said.

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Then there’s D.J. Shoemate, a 6-1, 205-pound receiver and defensive back at Anaheim Servite. He’s fast, athletic and knows how to break tackles.

“The best thing about D.J. is he doesn’t know how good he’s going to be,” Coach Troy Thomas said. “He’s just doing it on natural ability right now.”

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Garrett Green, 26-1 as a starting quarterback at Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, isn’t likely to play quarterback when the Knights (3-0) take on Valencia (3-0) on Oct. 7. Green has a strained ligament in his right thumb, and even though he has returned to playing defense, he still can’t grip a football.

That requires 6-4 sophomore Dayne Crist to handle the offense, and so far, Crist has performed well.

“I don’t feel it’s going to be a big negative for him to play quarterback,” Coach Kevin Rooney said.

Crist is one of the best athletes at Notre Dame. He starts for the basketball team and is so aggressive that when he posts up, bodies fly in the opposite direction.

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Valencia has been broadcasting its football games via the Internet, and one of the sideline announcers is K.C. Arbogast, a Valencia basketball player who is the son of USC radio broadcaster Peter Arbogast.

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Calabasas is going to have a 6-6 freshman, Evan Smith, on its varsity basketball team. Smith’s father, Gavin, played for John Wooden at UCLA in the 1970s.

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It will be the equivalent of Donald Trump taking on Bill Gates when North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake (3-0) plays host to Beverly Hills (2-0-1) Saturday at 2:30 p.m. in a nonleague football game. Come early and watch the parade of Rolls-Royces, BMWs and Hummers. Stay and see if Beverly Hills’ high-powered passing attack can succeed against an untested Harvard-Westlake defense.

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


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