Russell White gained 218 yards in 27 carries and scored on first-half touchdown runs of 17 and 15 yards to help Crespi High to a 28-7 victory over Palmdale Friday night in a nonleague game at Palmdale.
The Celts, tied in their seasonopener last week by Redlands after opening as the No. 2 team in the nation by USA Today, bounced back with a performance much more reminiscent of their Big Five title drive of 1986 by beating a good Palmdale team.
Rarely has a nationally ranked school needed a confidence-builder in Week 2, but that's pretty much what this was.
"Very important," Crespi Coach Bill Redell said afterward. "Very, very important. A lot more important than people realize.
"These kids had to show they could do it. I guess the Redlands thing was a blessing because everyone thought we were real good, that we could just show up and win."
The Celts, No. 2 in The Times' Southern Section rankings, turned seven-point game at halftime into a runaway in the final two quarters.
Quarterback Rob O'Byrne threw only 12 passes, completing 6 for 113 yards and a 31-yard touchdown to Eric Kieling with 9:27 remaining for the final score.
White, who missed the final 2 1/2 quarters of the Redlands game with a hip pointer, had 16 carries (three short of his career high) and 140 yards in the first half. He kept going in the second half, proving that he is durable for an entire game, a test he didn't get last season as the Celts rolled up big wins.
J.J. Lasley, who had just 19 yards last week partly because of leg cramps, added 98 yards and a touchdown this time.
"It was a good test for him to carry that many times," Redell said of White. "He'll do it again. He has to."
The inference there is the 1986 State Player of the Year as a sophomore will be needed even more as a junior, and it's probably true. O'Byrne has been a starter on the bubble from the outset, with Redell's son, Ron, waiting for his chance, and the line play on both sides has been somewhat suspect the first two games. Last week, the Celts couldn't score in three tries from the one-yard line in the last two minutes to save their ranking, and this time it was the defense.
They weren't dominated while giving up seven points--pushed around was more like it--and right from the start. Palmdale (1-1), The Times' No. 10 team, had a comparable running game early, with the speed of Eric Thomas and big holes provided by the offense line accounting for an opening-drive score and a 7-0 lead.
Thomas, the best all-around player on a team that returned 17 starters, finished with 122 yards, 83 in the first half, in 18 carries. Don Turner (67 yards in 6 attempts) had the lone score for the Falcons, a two-yard run.