John Dick, a fullback and linebacker from Pasadena Poly High, was surprised when he was selected to play in the National Football Foundation's seventh annual Hall of Fame All-Star Game at 8 p.m. Friday at Arroyo High in El Monte.
Imagine his reaction when San Marino High's Bill Maloney, coach of the West team, called the 18-year-old Whittier resident to inform him that he had been chosen.
That's because it's an 11-man game, and Dick, who played eight-man football in high school, has never played an organized 11-man game.
Poly also is not anyone's idea of an athletic factory. The academically rich school of 250 students will be the smallest, by far, represented in the game that will feature 88 of the top graduating seniors in the San Gabriel Valley area.
So why was Dick chosen?
"I know he's an eight-man player," Maloney said. "But he's an outstanding eight-man player. He has size and intelligence and I think he will be an asset."
No, Dick is not your typical eight-man player. First, he is 6-1 and 210 pounds--not bad size for a fullback or linebacker at any high school.
He also made the All-CIF Eight Man Large Conference team as a senior, rushing for 726 yards and 13 touchdowns in 96 carries.
Dick also played baseball and basketball, carried a 3.7 grade-point average and will attend Yale University in the fall.
Dick has practiced with the West for less than two weeks but Maloney said he is making outstanding progress.
"The first couple of days he struggled, but he's coming along real well," Maloney said."
Dick, who played in an eight-man all-star game July 19, said one of the biggest differences is the caliber of players.
"There were some good players in that game, but on the whole the players in this are better.
"It's going to be a lot different. In the eight-man (all-star) game I started both ways because we had 17 players. Here there are 44 and I guarantee I won't start both ways."
Then there is the size difference.
"My size was always an advantage in eight-man football. As a fullback, I was always one of the biggest. Here I'm not small but I'm not unusually big."
Maloney said Dick has adjusted faster to fullback than linebacker at the 11-man level.
"I think he's probably a little better at fullback right now. We're playing a little different defense than he's used to and that has been harder for him to adjust to."
Added Dick: "I like it a lot on offense. It's not much of a difference. As far as tackling and blocking goes, nothing changes. On defense though, it's a little different with two extra linebackers. It's also tougher to read (defenses)."
The East, coached by Bob Baiz of Claremont High, has tailbacks Leland Adams of West Covina and Scott Londo of Gladstone and fullbacks Dean Lambo of Claremont and Jeff Obert of Charter Oak.
Other standouts for the East are quarterback Mark Smith of Los Altos and wide receiver Mike Culwell of West Covina.
The West has the passing of Schurr's Eric Rubalcava and Hubert Turner at wide receiver.