Carson Coach Gene Vollnogle can be excused if he can't give specific answers to questions about his senior quarterback, George Malauulu. He can spell the player's surname--no small feat--but there a few other details about Malauulu that defy description.
For instance, is Malauulu right-handed or left-handed? The Throwin' Samoan has even thrown Vollnogle off track.
"He's normally a lefty," Vollnogle said. "Or at least I think he is."
The question arose after last week's 46-0 win over Kennedy in which Malauulu threw touchdown passes with both hands. Malauulu brings his ambidextrous act to Granada Hills at 8 tonight.
"I'm pretty sure he throws a baseball with his right hand and a football with his left," Vollnogle said. "That might be because he injured his right elbow a while back playing baseball. You'd never believe it, but he's a junkball pitcher."
In light of Carson's success, Vollnogle isn't about to junk anybody, especially his quarterback. Carson (3-0) is ranked No. 3 in the nation by USA Today, and so far this season Malauulu has thrown five touchdown passes.
"They're good everywhere," Granada Hills Coach Darryl Stroh said. "You can't pick one thing out and say, 'We have to stop that.' They just do everything well. They are awesome, just awesome."
Granada Hills also has been awe-inspiring at times, too. Last week, the Highlanders (2-1) beat Canoga Park, 49-14, with senior quarterback Jeremy Leach passing for 366 yards and five touchdowns.
Carson, however, hasn't allowed a point in three games and has surrendered a grand total of 41 yards. The Colts have allowed 67 passing yards and minus-26 on the ground, which works out to .25 yards per play or 13.7 yards per game. Leach is averaging 13.7 yards per completion.
"Nobody's scored," Stroh said. "What can you say? It should be interesting."
In the 4-A playoffs last year, Carson buried Granada Hills, 56-14. The Colts advanced to the City final where they upset Banning, then the No. 1 team in the nation.
Despite Carson's strengths, Stroh expects a closer score this year.
"To tell you the truth, last year they would have beaten us no matter what we did, and we didn't even play well," he said. "But I'd be very surprised if we laid down this time. The team's up and eager to see where they are in relation to one of the best teams in the country."
Add Carson: In passing-league competition over the summer, Granada Hills twice defeated Carson.
"This isn't passing league," Vollnogle said. "This time we'll have players out there to rush the passer."
Granada Hills' offensive line, which has been steadier than expected, will have to keep the heat off Leach. Last week, Leach threw 33 passes and was not sacked.
"We need 3.5 seconds," Stroh said. "That's what we like to have."
Carson's defensive line will be pressing to allow Leach little, if any, time to throw.
"I don't know who they are," Vollnogle said. "The defensive line is a bunch of no-name guys. But they're tough. Let's see, who do we have on the line. . . . There's a kid named Samali Mann. That first name's spelled S-A-M-A-L-I. Or is it E-L-I?
"I don't know how he spells it. He is right-handed, though."
Saugus-Canyon showdown: All eyes in the Santa Clarita Valley will be on Harry Welch and Dick Flaherty tonight. And there should be plenty of eyes watching.
Extra bleachers have been installed at Canyon to accommodate the 4,000 spectators who are expected to watch Welch, Canyon's coach, go against his former assistant.
"It should be a whale of a contest," Welch said.
Said Flaherty: "It will be a great high school experience for the whole community."
OK, so it will be wholesome fun for the whole family and all that stuff. But what everyone really wants to know is: Who is going to win? Or more specifically: Can Flaherty outcoach Welch?
"I don't think of it as Dick Flaherty against Harry Welch," said Flaherty, who coached under Welch the past five years. "I have tremendous respect for him, but I see it as Saugus needing a win a lot more than Dick Flaherty. I will not create pressure for myself or my team by setting it up as the ex-coach going up against his old mentor."
Said Welch: "Dick works his kids with the same discipline and work ethic as we do at Canyon. We'll have our hands full with them."
If neither Welch nor Flaherty will go out on a limb, maybe Rick Scott will. Scott's Hart Indians have beaten both Canyon and Saugus this season.
"Unless Jared Snyder throws the ball well," Scott said, "Saugus won't move the ball on them. You've got to throw the ball against Canyon to beat them and they dare you to throw it. Dick knows that.
"Saugus will contain Canyon's running game better than we did, but I'd have to give Canyon the edge by a touchdown or more."