Denis Furlong, coach of the Fairfax High School 3-A City championship football team, his quarterback Rodney Dorsett and Paul Nikcevic, a defensive end for Venice's Pac 8 League titlist team, won the top awards at the annual Times High School Football Brunch and Awards Presentation.
Furlong, whose team finished 12-0 and won the school's first city football crown, was named coach of the year, Dorsett back of the year and Nikcevic lineman of the year.
The invitational event, sponsored by the Los Angeles Times Fund, brought together parents, head coaches and 230 players from all-star first teams in 10 Times Circulation areas: Westside, Central Los Angeles, Orange County, San Gabriel Valley, Southeast, South Coast, Glendale, Centinela-South Bay, San Fernando Valley and San Diego County.
Each player received a plaque and certificate and each top award winner received a trophy.
Furlong, a 30-year-old native of Auburn, Calif., is in his ninth year as a coach and mathematics teacher at Fairfax, but this year was only his second as head football coach. A graduate of UCLA, he coached cross-country in his first year at the high school and was an assistant for six football seasons to Frank D'Alessandro, a previous Times coach of the year who is now at Monroe High.
Furlong, who played football and basketball and was a triple jumper in track at Placer High, said he had hoped to become a coach after he graduated from UCLA in 1976. But, he said, "I never envisioned myself as a football coach. Coach D (D'Alessandro) taught me basically what I know, and I think I owe it all to him."
If Furlong was the architect of this year's powerhouse, Dorsett was his construction foreman who saw to it that everything fit into the right place. Last year he shared time at quarterback, but this year he was the main man. In fact, he was the Lions' only quarterback, since his first replacement broke a leg in a preseason scrimmage and his second was too young to play varsity.
9 Touchdowns Passing
Through 11 games, Dorsett completed 79 of 132 passes for 1,562 yards and 9 touchdowns and had 34 carries for 244 yards and 4 touchdowns. He also threw three touchdown passes in the Lions' 27-0 win over Chatsworth for the City title.
Furlong said that Dorsett, the first Fairfax passer to throw for more than 1,000 yards since 1979, could have had a lot more yardage if he had run the ball more often. But the coach said he had ordered his quarterback not to run in the team's first six or seven games because he was irreplaceable at quarterback.
But when All-Westside tailback Michael Hale was injured and the Fairfax offense stalled, Furlong said he let Dorsett do some running. "Rodney could have had a whole lot of yardage running, but he was way too valuable to us. He would have run the ball 25 times a game if I had let him. And when he ran I would scream for him to get out of bounds."
Dorsett might have been wise to run out of bounds if he had seen Nikcevic coming his way. Venice Coach Al Dellinger said that the 6-2, 180-pound senior and his fellow lineman Bob Tomaselli, another All-Westsider, were the best pair of defensive ends that Venice has had in his 15 years at the school.
Team's Top Tackler
Dellinger said that Nikcevic, the team's top tackler, as a sophomore was a "tall skinny guy and a third-string B-team quarterback who had never played before. He was really kind of a wimp last year because all he wanted to do was be the jayvee quarterback."
But the tall, skinny kid, an A student in advanced placement classes, saw the light, put on some weight and found his true vocation at defensive end. Dellinger said that Nikcevic is a little like former pro linebacker Ted Hendricks, who was nicknamed "The Stork."
"He has an innate ability to play defensive end. He has these long arms which let him keep people away from his body. He started every game, is smart and very aggressive and a tough, smart football player."
Besides Dorsett and Hale, members of The Times' 1985 All-Westside first team on offense are receivers Travis Clark of Santa Monica and Gregg Silver of Beverly Hills and linemen Dale Evans of Santa Monica, Eduardo Vega of Hamilton, Alvin Thomas of Fairfax, David Ellis of Beverly Hills and Sean Robinson of Palisades. The quarterback is Santa Monica's Pat O'Hara and the other back is William J. Harris of University. The kicker is Beverly Hills' punter Alan Glazer.
In addition to Nikcevic and Tomaselli, the first-team defense has linemen Damian Penn of Culver City and Derek Flot of Hamilton and linebackers David Buchbinder of Beverly Hills, Derek Mallard of Fairfax and Bernard Shockley of Santa Monica. The defensive backs are LaTrelle Barnes and Haamid Wadood, both of Fairfax, Culver City's Bob Beighey and Santa Monica's London Sattiewhite.
The second-team offense includes receivers Dominique Holland of Santa Monica and Paul Richardson of University and linemen Shane Cox of Culver City, Bill Huntoon of St. Monica, Shawn Siah of Fairfax and Mark Lambert and Scott Cooper, both of Palisades. The backs, all quarterbacks, are Eric Mueller of Beverly Hills, Ernie Soto of Venice, Jonn Moomaw of University and Culver City's Frank Dolce. The kicker is Venice place kicker Nito Messina.
On defense, the second team consists of linemen J. C. Farrow of Hollywood, Mike Saltzman of University, Stephen Maafala of Hollywood and Rob Ramsdell of Palisades. The linebackers are Daniel Murphy's Ken Sackett, Eric Davis of Santa Monica and David Gonzalez of Venice. The defensive backs are Willie Crawford of Beverly Hills, Eric Crawford of Venice, Darrin Jackson of St. Monica and Lavelle Parker of Hamilton.