San Fernando High School, a place reminded of tradition more than ever with the recent interest in Ritchie Valens and the movie "La Bamba," has looked away from the past in football. And, because of that, the Tigers are able to look past last season.
The last time they didn't run the wishbone as their primary offense was 1971, when Tom Hernandez, the current coach, was in ninth grade and still a year away from attending San Fernando. So realize that going to an offense where they pass half the time is a major switch for him, too, knowing as well as anyone that Charles White, Anthony Davis, Kevin Williams and Kenny and Manfred Moore, among others, made a name with their legs, not their arms.
Hernandez felt unsure about the move but realized it must be done since the Tigers don't have anyone with the stamina or the speed to carry the ball 20 to 30 times a game.
Now, he must feel like coach of the year.
Hernandez and the Tigers have a passing attack, a 3-0 record and the No. 2 spot in The Times' City rankings after going 2-8 last season. They have also outscored their opponents, 92-12, with quarterback Joe Mauldin throwing six touchdowns (and no interceptions) and running for four others. Next up is Crenshaw (1-2), which has allowed 34 and 27 points in the losses.
"I couldn't have expected more," Hernandez said. "We're throwing about 50% of the time and averaging 150 yards a game passing and still about 130 with the run. The good thing is that we haven't had any turnovers throwing the ball.
"Upstairs (during a game) one of the coaches will say, 'Let's go to the ground, let's establish a running game.' We don't have to establish a running game. That will come along naturally with the passing."
Last season, Mauldin threw 8 or 10 times a game and had 1 touchdown and 10 interceptions. Passing was just "something to keep people honest," Hernandez said.
This season, Mauldin is throwing 20 or 25 times a game. Honest. The Tigers have averaged 341 yards per game in total offense, with just under 200 coming through the air.
Two other positive signs on the changeover is that Mauldin has shown the ability to pass, averaging 14.2 yards a completion, and he has several targets in addition to running the ball on a rollout. Six receivers have caught passes in the first three games, led by Tommy Howard (13, for an average of 15.2) and Danny Leos (7 for 14.9).
Yesterday's Heroes: Long Beach Poly, the Big Five Conference co-champion in 1985, is 1-3 in 1987 and has scored 19 points. The single-game high for the season is nine, two weeks ago against Wilmington Banning. . . . Huntington Beach Edison, which tied the Jackrabbits for the title two years ago, is 0-5 and, it seems as times, getting as many injuries as points. The Chargers aren't getting much help from the schedule, either, having played Mission Viejo Capistrano Valley (5-0), Anaheim Servite (4-0-1), Santa Ana Mater Dei (4-1) and Santa Monica (4-0) in nonleague games. . . . Manual Arts, the 1983 and '84 City 3-A champion, is 0-3 with a total of 13 points.
Fountain Valley, which in the 1980s has reached the Big Five title game once, the semifinals once and the quarterfinals twice, is 1-4, the only win last week over Long Beach Poly, 7-3. The Barons have been outscored, 89-44. . . . Cerritos Valley Christian, the Inland Conference champion in 1986, a semifinalist in '85 and '84 and a quarterfinalist the four years before that, is 1-4 and has been outscored, 107-54. . . . Riverside Poly, which won the Big Five title in 1984 and the Eastern in '83, is 1-3-1 with road games against Rialto Eisenhower, No. 3 in the Southern Section, this Friday and No. 1 Fontana two weeks later.
The 11th annual Las Vegas Holiday basketball tournament, which draws some of the best teams from around the country, will have five from the area this year.
Palos Verdes, Santa Ana, Gardena Serra, Westchester and Irvine Woodbridge will take part in the 29-team, 5-day competition Dec. 26-30 at Nevada Las Vegas. Palos Verdes opens with Oak Hill from Mouth of Wilson, Va., the defending tournament champion.