Will the real Brian Brown sign in this weekend?
The UCLA-bound running back from Gardena High will be part of a fabulous backfield in the Shrine Game on Saturday when he'll be teamed with Terry Rodgers from San Diego Sweetwater--son of Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Rodgers--and Pomona star J. J. Flannigan for the South team against the best Northern California seniors from last fall.
There's never been any question of Brown's ability. The all-South Bay runner combines sprinter's speed with the intuitive moves and quickness of a natural running back.
But the public has rarely seen Brown at his best.
Last season he was hampered by leg injuries early in the year, then broke his ankle. In the spring, while training for track--he was one of the city's outstanding sprinters as a junior--he pulled a hamstring. He decided baseball might be safer for the leg but pulled the hamstring again.
Brown says his legs are now sound, and he doesn't feel he has anything to prove in the Shrine game. "I'm excited but I don't have to try to prove myself out there," he said. "What I've done speaks for itself. I'm just out there to have fun."
This is the first year since 1973 that the Shrine game, set for 7 p.m. at the Rose Bowl, is a statewide competition. Organizers say the South is "the best group of players ever to represent Southern California."
Brown will be joined by four other South Bay players: linebacker Rocen Keeton of Serra (headed to UCLA), lineman Peter McLachlan of Carson (USC), linebacker Nate Morris from Gardena (UCLA) and lineman Mark Tucker from Banning (USC).
Brown joins a long list of former South Bay running backs who have played in the Shrine, and he'll join a large stable of talented runners at UCLA including former Gardena teammate Gaston Green--no stranger himself to hamstring injuries.
"I talk to (Green) quite a bit," Brown said. "I talked to him about (the hamstring injury). He said there's not really much you can do, just take time to heal it by itself."
Brown reports to UCLA on Aug. 10. If there's no pressure in the Shrine game, Brown recognizes there is in Westwood. The defending Rose Bowl champs are being touted as national contenders. Brown faces stern competition for playing time at a school that has a full-house backfield--four backs who played considerably last year.
"I'm looking forward to it," Brown said. "I have to try to prove myself out there."
The Fram under-19 soccer team of Culver City and Palos Verdes will play for the national club-level championship this weekend in New Britain, Conn.
The 16-member team, coached by Tad Bobak of Santa Monica, includes several members of the U. S. junior national team and is probably on the level of a good college team. Club organizer Dick Barkhuis, soccer coach at Rolling Hills High, flatly says that, barring bad weather or a poor performance, Fram should be the favorite for the title.
Fram will play the Dallas Kickers in Friday's semifinal. The other semifinal pits Oceanside, N. Y., against East-West from Cleveland. Friday's winners play for the title Sunday.
The Fram team, a hand-picked group, is led on defense by goalie Carlos Pena from Culver City and Cal State Los Angeles, younger brother Danny and sweeper Marshall Balboa, captain of the junior national team, and on offense by Waldir Guerra from Bell High School, Costa Skouras from San Pedro, Jorge Hurtarte from Bell Gardens, Chuck Codd from South Torrance and North Carolina State and Dana Kier from South Torrance.
Though the team has considerable firepower--Guerra set a national high school scoring record last spring--Bobak plays a patient, ball-control game and emphasizes a formidable defense.
Fram won its league last fall, captured the state title in February and won the 12-state Western playoff in Seattle in June.
Bobak is taking nothing for granted, however. The team made the national finals two years ago and held a 2-0 lead but lost in overtime.
"We feel good about ourselves. We just have to make sure we do our thing," he said. "There are four or five players who were in that final two years ago." He hopes "they're still angry enough to win it."
Early-morning cycling fans and anyone else who wants to witness a test of human endurance may want to check out the Palos Verdes Hill Challenge on Sunday. The pros and highest-rated riders will set out at 7 a.m. on a grueling eight-mile course that goes up Crenshaw Boulevard, west across Crest Road, down Hawthorne Boulevard and onto Palos Verdes Drive North back to Crenshaw.
The climb up Crenshaw to Crest is nearly two miles at an ever-steepening grade. The pro riders will do nine laps. Novice men and women riders will do three.
Along with the hill climb, race organizers are predicting thrills and spills when the riders come barreling down Hawthorne and have to make a tight, fast right turn onto Palos Verdes Drive, where lane reflectors in the road add to the danger.
The start and finish point is on Silver Spur Road near Courtyard Mall. The winners will be declared king and queen of the hill.