The Poly football program was dealt a severe blow when Brian Casey, a senior two-year starter, was expelled last spring after twice fighting on campus. The loss was compounded when Brian's brother, Jerome, a fleet 5-11, 170-pound sophomore tailback and cornerback, also left the school.
Both Caseys will attend Sylmar, but while Brian has been granted an opportunity transfer and is eligible to play this season, Jerome's eligibility is in question, according to Hal Harkness, City Section director of athletics.
"Brian Casey's opportunity transfer allows him to play for Sylmar right away," Harkness said. "For Jerome to be eligible to play immediately at Sylmar, his mother would have to move to there.
"Neither the grandmother's address, nor any other address other than the mother's, is legal for athletics. However, should the grandmother become the legal guardian and the mother or grandmother petition citing financial hardship and prove it without a doubt . . . an appeal could be granted."
Patricia Casey, the boys' mother, said Jerome will attend Sylmar regardless of the outcome of the petition.
"I have experienced some financial difficulties," she said, "and we have changed the legal guardian to be the grandmother, so he could play.
"It wasn't Jerome's decision to go to Sylmar, it was mine. He was also accepted in the magnet program at San Fernando, but I decided he was going to Sylmar with his brother."
Poly Coach Kevin Kennedy wants to ensure the transfer is proper.
"I am not challenging Jerome's being there other than the legality," Kennedy said. "I wrote a letter to Sylmar regarding the possibility of a circumvention of the rules regarding transfer. Brian has a perfect right to go there on opportunity transfer based on his removal from Poly. He doesn't have to live in Sylmar. But where Jerome is concerned, his mother has to move to Sylmar."
One thing is certain: Poly will miss the Caseys.
The loss of Brian, a 6-1, 265-pound offensive tackle and nose guard, is a major one for a program already short on talent. Kennedy said the school mandates that a student be expelled if involved in two fights.
"Yeah, I got into a fight," Casey said. "It was just one of those things. But, Sylmar is a lot better football program and I have a lot of friends there. I still have a lot of friends at Poly. I am looking forward to playing against them, and I'm sure they're looking forward to playing against me."
Casey's arrival at Sylmar, despite his disciplinary problems, was welcomed by first-year Coach Jeff Engilman.
"Kids are gonna be kids," Engilman said. "I don't know the circumstances of the fights. But, so far in practice, Brian has shown that he is a very heady kid and has a lot on the ball. He has the brains and the grades to be in college and, if he keeps his head on straight and his temper under control, he has the talent to play at a Division I school."
If Jerome is ineligible, the brothers will miss their only chance to play together.
"I only wanted to come to Sylmar so I could play one year of football with my brother," Jerome said. "It's his last year."
Until the matter of his eligibility is settled, all Jerome can do is attend the Sylmar workouts as a spectator and ponder the possibility that he also may be a spectator during games.
Los Lobos: Alemany High Coach Enrique Lopez unabashedly calls Chris Lobos the team's top player.
He better hope so.
By mid-game, opponents might think there is an entire team with the same name on the field. Lobos, a senior, will start at tailback this season for the Indians. Lobos will start at cornerback. Lobos will do the placekicking. Lobos will handle the punting. Kickoff duties? Lobos.
About the only time Lobos won't be on the field is on kick and punt returns. At least not yet.
"He's our best athlete," Lopez said. "He pretty much has to be."
Lobos might be one of the best punters in the area. Last season he averaged 37 yards a kick. He also kicked a field goal and intercepted a pass. This will be his first season as a running back.
Staff writer Steve Elling contributed to this notebook.