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Yesterday's Stars--Some Still Shine, Others Have Faded Away

December 12, 1985|RAY RIPTON | Times Staff Writer

Where are the Westside prep football stars of yesteryear? Some are playing in the NFL, and some played or are playing at universities and community colleges. Others are ordinary people living ordinary lives.

Since The Times began picking All-Westside teams in the late 1960s, Santa Monica High School has produced three players who are currently in the NFL, three others who reportedly have been injured and aren't playing at present and another, defensive back Ricky Williams, who was recently released by the Los Angeles Raiders.

Dennis Thurman is a veteran defensive back with the Dallas Cowboys. Dennis Smith, a defensive back with the Denver Broncos, intercepted three Raiders' passes last Sunday. Mel Kaufman is a Washington Redskins linebacker.

Three former Santa Monica High players were reportedly injured and aren't playing at present, but they were drafted by NFL teams. They are tight end Damone Johnson of the Los Angeles Rams, tight end Chris Kolodziejski of the Pittsburgh Steelers and wide receiver Larry Willis of the Denver Broncos.

Many Attend USC

In college, Thurman and Smith starred at USC, Kaufman and Johnson at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Kolodziejski at Wyoming, Willis at Fresno State and Williams at Langston University in Oklahoma.

Four Santa Monica alumni are on this season's USC team: linebackers Keith Davis and Sam Ano and defensive backs Aaron Brown and Junior Thurman, brother of Dennis. Santa Monica defensive back Lawrence Crayton was a redshirt freshman at Cal State Long Beach this year.

Probably the best-known players from Palisades High School are Jay Schroeder, Albert Bell, Darryl Castile and Steve Stapler.

Schroeder is starting at quarterback for the Washington Redskins after playing at UCLA and then spending a few years in minor league baseball after signing a contract with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Bell, who spent his senior year at Crenshaw after playing with Palisades, received a scholarship to Purdue and wound up at Alabama, where he is a star wide receiver for the Crimson Tide. Castile played at Santa Monica College and Minnesota, and Stapler was at West Los Angeles College, San Diego State, in the Canadian Football League and tried out with the Redskins a year or two ago.

Moon Played for Hamilton

Hamilton High stars in the pros are Houston Oilers' quarterback Warren Moon, who had an illustrious career at the University of Washington and in the Canadian Football League before he went to the NFL, and Raiders' linebacker Rod Martin, who played at USC.

Billy Yancy, a former Hamilton quarterback, went on to play at Fresno State and then started a five-year odyssey in which he either played or tried out as a defensive back with 10 professional teams in the CFL, NFL and the United States Football League.

From last year's Hamilton team, quarterback Phillip Vinson and running back Anthony Singleton were redshirt freshmen at New Mexico State this year, center Robbie Anderson is at Brigham Young and guard-linebacker Larry Jones was a redshirt freshman at the University of Hawaii, where defensive back Robert Walker, who played at Hamilton at couple of years ago, is on the varsity.

Another former Hamilton quarterback, Ricky Greene, played recently at Oregon.

'77 Venice Stars

Dana McLemore, San Francisco 49ers' defensive back and punt returner, starred as a senior on the 1977 Venice High team that was 8-0-1 and won a Western League championship. Running back Keyvan Jenkins was a junior on that team, and he and his younger brother Kinyon later played for Nevada Las Vegas. Kinyon finished up at San Diego State, and Keyvan was a top runner in the CFL this past season with the British Columbia Lions.

Other players from that '77 Venice team who played more football were quarterback Angelo Gasca and linemen Jeff Pew, Tom Woods and Darryl Moore.

Moore was a lineman for the Trojans and tried out with the Dallas Cowboys and the Cleveland Browns, but he decided that pro football was not for him. This year he served as a volunteer assistant coach at Venice.

Gasca, another volunteer assistant at Venice, was a top quarterback at Santa Monica College and Cal State Long Beach and tried out for the Los Angeles Express in that team's first year in the USFL. Pew played at SMC and at Oregon and Woods at SMC and Cal State Long Beach.

Watts With Trojans

Venice defensive back Elbert Watts, who graduated in 1981, started out at Oklahoma and is on this year's USC team.

Kevin Fidel, a tight end and defensive tackle at Venice in the early '70s, was with the Washington State, SMC and San Diego State teams and was drafted by the Cleveland Browns. But he contracted a virus, lost weight as a result of the illness and was unable to play pro ball. Among Venice players from more recent years, quarterback Mike Sanders was at Cal Lutheran this year, quarterback Pat Guthrie played for West Los Angeles College and this season at Occidental, Joe Taylor was a linebacker this season at the University of the Pacific, and center Glen Neal was a UCLA crew member.

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