Four San Gabriel Valley high school football standouts are among a group of 30 graduating seniors who have been named to the South team that will play in the 35th annual Shrine North-South Football Classic on Aug. 2 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.
The four are Claremont quarterback Dan McGwire and wide receiver Travis Watkins, Pomona running back J. J. Flannigan and Muir defensive back John Hardy.
McGwire and Watkins, who will both play for the University of Iowa in September, formed one of the most potent passing combinations in CIF Southern Section history the last three years at Claremont.
The 6-8, 220-pound McGwire completed 204 of 332 passes for 3,172 yards and 33 touchdowns to lead the Wolfpack to its second straight CIF Eastern Conference title last year. He passed for 6,559 yards and 65 touchdowns in three years as a starter.
Watkins (6-1, 175), McGwire's favorite target, caught 104 passes for 1,703 yards and 21 touchdowns and rushed for 310 yards and 3 touchdowns in 23 carries, mostly on reverses. He caught 164 passes for 2,698 yards and 31 touchdowns in three years on the Claremont varsity.
Flannigan (6-0, 190), named state prep player of the year by Gatorade, rushed for 1,530 yards and 20 touchdowns in 195 carries and caught 25 passes for 256 yards and 3 touchdowns as a senior He rushed for 3,267 yards and 39 touchdowns in his prep career. He will play for the University of Colorado next season.
Hardy (5-11, 160), an all-state selection by Cal-Hi Sports News of San Jose, was regarded as one of the top defensive backs in the state in leading Muir to its first CIF Coastal Conference football championship. He will attend UC Berkeley next season.
Four other players from the valley were named as alternates to the South team. They are offensive lineman Ryan McReynolds (6-7, 240) of Rowland, running back Leland Adams (5-10, 175) of West Covina, linebacker Larry Vladic (6-3, 195) of Diamond Bar and defensive back Cary Grant (5-8, 168) of Muir.
Mike LeDuc, who guided the Damien High School boys' basketball team to six CIF Southern Section playoff berths in seven years as coach, has resigned to pursue other coaching opportunities.
LeDuc, 31, compiled a 134-57 (.701 winning percentage) record as varsity coach and his teams reached the Southern Section semifinals twice and the quarterfinals one other time. Damien reached the 3-A Division quarterfinals and finished with a 21-8 record last season.
"I'm going to pursue some other coaching opportunities but I can't say where they are now," LeDuc said. "It was difficult to leave but I was thinking about my career and my family."
Tom Carroll, athletic director at Damien who will lead the search for a new coach, said LeDuc will be difficult to replace.
"As far as we're concerned, we're very sorry to see him go," Carroll said. "He's a hard worker and he puts a lot of time into his work. We're losing a good teacher and a good coach."