Seven days ago, it was doubtful whether Crespi's Russell White would play tonight against Palmdale. White limped off the field with a painful hip pointer in the second quarter of last week's game against Redlands, which ended in an equally painful 17-17 tie.
A few days later, White--who led the state in rushing last season with 2,339 yards--will not only start at tailback, but he'll play in the defensive secondary, too.
Crespi Coach Bill Redell said White and quarterback Rob O'Byrne will see some time at defensive back because fullback J.J. Lasley, who plays both ways, was too beat to carry the rushing load when White suffered his beating.
"He was dead tired," Redell said. "I was a little disappointed that J.J. didn't make up more of the slack, but to be fair, he was playing both ways. We're making some adjustments in personnel to make sure we give the guy some rest."
Lasley, who suffered leg cramps in the game, finished with 19 yards on nine carries. White had a career-low 23 yards on eight attempts.
Lasley and White may need an occasional breather tonight at Palmdale. The Falcons are No. 10 in The Times' Southern Section rankings. Crespi is No. 2 in The Times' Southern Section and Valley rankings.
"I think they'll be as tough as any team we play all season," Redell said. "They're right up there in the category with Loyola."
That's saying a mouthful, since Loyola started the season ranked No. 15 in the nation by USA Today.
"I think it's an even game," Redell said. "Even with Russell, it's pretty even, without him, well. . . . "
Any chance Redell is playing the role of the cautious optimist, especially after the Redlands debacle, which dropped the Celts from No. 2 in the USA Today poll to No. 10? Not likely.
"Our kids are very disappointed with the game," he said. "We should have won that game. The players know they didn't look good or play well against Redlands.
"These guys are ready to take it out on Palmdale."
Four-legged football: As far as Calabasas Coach Larry Edwards is concerned, his team's 20-6 win over Moorpark was, at best, "Coyote ugly." The description, which makes mention of Calabasas' mascot, is something of a coincidence.
"The term 'Coyote ugly' actually goes back to my college days," said Edwards, who attended Rice in the early 1970s. "It refers to the ugliest life form on the face of the Earth."
A touch on the dramatic side, perhaps?
Well, from the opening kickoff, when a Calabasas fumble gave Moorpark the ball on the Coyotes' 25-yard line, nothing came easily for the defending Frontier League champions.
Calabasas fumbled four times and lost three, including one on the fourth play of its first drive. The Coyotes also ran a play with only 10 players on the field.
Calabasas gained 298 yards in total offense but needed two interceptions in the final four minutes to win.
"The mistakes were critical as far as momentum was concerned," Edwards said. "But, they were your typical opening-game mistakes."
Coyote-ugly mistakes, that is.
Impressive debut: After Michael Jones rushed for 1,600 yards for the junior varsity last season, Montclair Prep Coach Pat Blackburn had high expectations for the 6-1, 190-pound speedster. Jones, a sophomore, is on his way to fulfilling his promise after running for 147 yards and 2 touchdowns on 13 carries in Montclair Prep's 13-7 victory over Palm Desert last Friday.
"I've been saying all along that he's a Russell White-type player," Blackburn said. "He ran well at the JV level last year and he's bigger, stronger and faster this year."
While Blackburn was satisfied with Jones, he was disappointed in penalties that cost the Mounties two touchdowns in the second quarter. Twice, quarterback Keyaan Cook teamed with tight end Thomas Kilby for apparent touchdowns, only to have the scores nullified by holding calls.
Not-so-warm welcome: It was supposed to be a homecoming for Rich Lawson. But after watching his Chaminade Eagles fumble and bumble their way to a 24-10 loss at Notre Dame, Lawson must wonder if you can ever go home again.
The Eagles committed seven turnovers, ruining Lawson's coaching debut against his alma mater.
"It certainly wasn't the homecoming I expected," Lawson said.
The Eagles fumbled three times inside their own 30 and threw four interceptions.
"You just can't win that way," Lawson said. "I told the kids if we get our butts kicked and get pushed around, we deserve to lose. But to give up the ball seven times, that's discouraging."
And the winner is: So who is the Valley-area's leading rusher after one week? Not Crespi's Russell White. Not Thousand Oaks' Marc Monestime.
The distinction goes to Burbank's Gabe Jimenez, who rushed for 169 yards on 26 carries and scored 1 touchdown in the Bulldogs' 25-7 loss to Claremont.
Jimenez (5-8, 160), a senior, ran 59 yards on one carry and a holding penalty nullified a 60-yard run.
"If it weren't for that penalty, he would have broken the school record for yards in a game," Coach Dave Carson said.