For highly regarded Claremont quarterback Dan McGwire, it figures to be the first of many prestigious honors he receives for his performance this season.
The 6-8, 215-pound McGwire, one of three who received special honors at The Times' High School Football Brunch and Awards Presentation, was named the Times back of the year for the San Gabriel Valley.
Other major award winners were Ryan McReynolds of Rowland, who was named lineman of the year for the valley, and Laing Stevens of Nogales, who was selected as the area's coach of the year.
McGwire, McReynolds and Stevens each received a trophy. The 23 members of The Times' All-San Gabriel Valley first-team offense and defense were awarded golden helmet plaques and certificates, as were players from nine other Times circulation areas: Orange County, Westside, San Fernando Valley, Glendale, Southeast, South Coast, South Bay, San Diego County and Central City.
The awards, presented last Sunday at the Anaheim Hilton, were provided by the Los Angeles Times Fund.
Air Force Superintendent
Presenting the awards were Lt. Gen. Winfield Scott, superintendent of the Air Force Academy, and Bruce Johnson, defensive coordinator of the Air Force football team that has an 11-1 record and will face Texas in the Bluebonnet Bowl on Dec. 31 at the Houston Astrodome.
Scott, the guest speaker, stressed the importance of obtaining a good education to 230 all-star players and their parents and coaches who attended the awards ceremony.
At the start of the season, McGwire was billed as one of the top high school quarterbacks in the nation and one scout called him the premier college prospect at quarterback. In addition, McGwire was named to the Street & Smith and USA Today preseason prep All-American teams.
Not that the preseason honors were undeserved. McGwire had passed for 2,246 yards and 24 touchdowns and led the Wolfpack to a 14-0 record and a CIF Eastern Conference championship as a junior.
As it turned out, McGwire's 1985 statistics were considerably better.
McGwire finished his senior year by completing 203 of 328 passes for 3,167 yards and 33 touchdowns in leading the Wolfpack to a 13-1 record and their second straight Eastern Conference championship. In his three years as quarterback for Claremont, McGwire's teams finished with a 36-3-1 record.
McGwire finished his three-year career as quarterback of the Wolfpack with 6,554 yards passing, placing him second behind Pat Haden of Bishop Amat on the list for all-time passing yardage in the CIF Southern Section.
Not surprisingly, McGwire is among the most heavily recruited players in the Southland. He has already made recruiting visits to the University of Illinois and Purdue University and is expected to visit three other colleges before the national letter of intent signing date in February.
McReynolds, a 6-7, 245-pound lineman, played for Rowland last year and made the All-Sierra League second team. But it was not until this season that he emerged as one of the top linemen in the valley.
As a senior, McReynolds established himself as a top offensive lineman, earning first-team All-Sierra League honors and gaining a reputation for outstanding blocking ability. "There are other good linemen around but he is a real standout," said the coach of one Rowland opponent.
McReynolds, who has excellent mobility, also earned second team all-league honors as a defensive lineman and has played linebacker.
In addition, he is the starting center for the Rowland basketball team, but most college recruiters have been more interested in his ability as a football player. Among the teams recruiting McReynolds are UCLA, Arizona, USC, UC Berkeley and Colorado.
A Key Figure
Stevens was one of the key figures in the sudden resurgence of the Nogales football program this season.
The second-year coach took over a program that finished with a 2-8 record in 1983. After being named coach about a month before the start of the 1984 season, Stevens saw his team struggle to a 3-7 in his first year.
"I had come here in August right before the start of the season," Stevens recalled. "I hadn't had a chance to work with the kids when I came in. I tried to switch things but it was already too late."
But the bad memories of his first season at Nogales were wiped away with an 8-3 season this year. The Nobles, who had one of the top offenses in the valley, were the surprise winners of the Sierra League title and reached the CIF Southern Conference playoffs.
Nogales was beaten in the first round, 35-6, by Mission Viejo, but by that time the Nobles had already completed perhaps the best turnaround of any team in the valley.
Besides McGwire and McReynolds, members of The Times' All-San Gabriel Valley first team offense are receivers Travis Watkins of Claremont and Mike Culwell of West Covina; linemen A. J. Chuha of Damien, Jack Montes of Bishop Amat, Steve Gilmour of Temple City and Dennis Karjala of Nogales, and running backs J. J. Flannigan of Pomona, Eric Bieniemy of Bishop Amat and Ricky Ervins of Muir. Steve Bayer of Claremont is the kicker.
First-team defensive players are linemen David Foster of Ganesha, Eugene Brown of Nogales, Jim Lopez of Charter Oak and Geoff Cook of Duarte; linebackers Sean Telish of Claremont, Kenny James of Pasadena and Ramon Diaz of Bishop Amat, and backs John Hardy of Muir, Larry Vladic of Diamond Bar, Johnny Brown of Bishop Amat and Barton Tyler of Workman.