High school teammates who choose to attend the same college are not rare, but in this year's football recruiting derby there are a few more than usual. Foremost is the signing of running back Oscar Meza and quarterback Jim Sterner by the University of the Pacific. The St. John Bosco students accounted for most of the offense on a prep team that finished 13-1 and played in the CIF Southern Section's Big Five championship game. Their decision to attend the Stockton university has to be considered a recruiting coup for the staff at UOP. Another notable tandem signing is running back Mondo Costello and quarterback Jeff Willis, of St. Paul High, with Miami University of Ohio. Former St. Paul Coach Rick Ready, fired in January after two seasons, was instrumental in Miami's decision to pursue the pair. Before he came to California, Ready was an assistant coach at Miami.
NO SURPRISE Mike Sheppard, University of New Mexico--The former football coach at California State University, Long Beach, has been back in California convincing players to follow him to Albuquerque. A premise for hiring the 32-year-old offensive wizard, according to university officials in New Mexico, was that he do a fast job of rebuilding the football program by importing more California players. Sheppard met that challenge by using the same strategy he used in his first year at Cal State Long Beach--seeking a "quick fix" from California community colleges. Such players have only two years of eligibility left, but they have the skills to take starting roles immediately. Often, recruits from high school take several years to adjust to college play. Thus, the theory goes, a high school football player takes up four years of a scholarship, while a scholarship awarded to a community college transfer turns over in two years and provides a ready source of talent. So far, Sheppard has signed 14 community college players, 12 of them from California. The only high school player he has signed from the Southeast / Long Beach area is Dave Main, a defensive end from Warren High in Downey.
BASKETBALL Tony Farmer, Artesia High School--One coach of an opposing Suburban League team is so impressed with Farmer's skills that he already has said he will vote for Farmer as the league's most valuable player. "He's by far the best player in this league," said Coach Roger Williams of La Mirada High School. Farmer, a 6-foot-6 center, led Artesia to the league title. He has a season high of 33 points in a single game this year.
Cory Jennings, Norwalk High School--The 6-foot-4 center was scouted recently by Cerritos College basketball Coach Bob Bogdanovich. Bogdanovich hopes to lure the all-Suburban League player to the Falcon campus. Jennings averages 19 points and 12 rebounds a game. At 185 pounds, he uses his dexterity and long arms to intimidate opposing players.
Kevin Kurz, Citrus College--The All-Southeast player from Schurr High School in Montebello ranks seventh in the state in community college field goal percentage shooting. He is hitting 60% of his tries for the two-year college in Azusa. Andre Wiley of Compton College and Willie Joseph of Cerritos College are tied for 22nd place, hitting 57.4% of their field goals.
Andy Olivarez, Cypress College--The former Whittier High School player, currently a sophomore starter at Cypress, is the leading scorer in the Orange Empire Conference. He averages 25.2 points a game.
Willie Joseph, Cerritos College--The All-Southeast player from Lynwood High School is expected to set a Falcon record for most points scored in a season. With two games remaining in the regular season, Joseph needs 36 points to reach the mark. He averages 23 points a game.
Cerritos College--The women's basketball team ranks eighth in the state in defense. The Lady Falcons have held their opponents to an average of 53.8 points a game.
Mary Beth Nelson, Biola University--The 6-foot-3 freshman center has been honored twice this season as the NAIA District III player of the week. The most recent award came after Nelson scored 43 points and pulled in 38 rebounds in back-to-back wins over Cal Baptist (75-66) and Whitworth College (66-57). Her 26 rebounds against Whitworth tied a school record.
BASEBALL Cypress College--Six former Southeast/Long Beach prep athletes are playing for the Chargers this season. They are pitchers Kevin Gail (Millikan), Lee Moore (California) and Kurt Stewart (St. John Bosco), infielders Tony Mendoza (Cerritos) and Kent Hobbensiefken (Warren), and outfielder Steve Balstad (St. John Bosco). Moore and Stewart are sophomores at the college.
John Gonsalves, Cal State Long Beach--The 49er coach won his 200th career game with a 9-5 decision over Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Gonsalves is in his 18th year at the university and has coached in more than 1,000 49er games.
Mike Kelly, Cal State Long Beach--The freshman catcher made his first college at-bat a big one, slamming a solo homer in the 49ers' 5-4 loss to the University of San Diego.
FOOTBALL Jason Dallas, Poly High School--Look for the offensive guard to be converted to tight end at Cal State Northridge next year. The Matador coaching staff recruited him for that purpose because of his size (6-foot-5, 210 pounds) and speed. He and teammate Victor Elliott announced last week that they would attend the school.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK Stan Thomas, Southern Section CIF--An increase in violence in prep soccer matches has sparked a discussion today at the section's executive committee meeting in Cerritos. In a story that appeared in the Orange County edition of The Times, the commissioner had this to say about the sport, which served a one-year probationary period in 1985 for excessive violence: "We have more problems with soccer than any other sport. If soccer doesn't clean itself up it may be back on probation or it may not exist."