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THE HIGH SCHOOLS : Injured Cousins Share Common Ground

October 18, 1987|STEVE ELLING | Times Staff Writer

A list of what Marcel Sellers and Chip Grant have in common would be rather lengthy.

First of all they are related--cousins by marriage. Both are senior running backs who play for Valley teams in the City Section. And entering play Friday both ranked among the top three rushers in the entire section.

The commonality took a weird twist this week, however. Sellers, who plays for Birmingham, and Grant, who plays for North Hollywood, missed most of their respective games Friday because of injury.

Sellers, who was averaging 146 yards a game before Birmingham's 37-23 victory over Narbonne, broke his left collarbone and will miss the rest of the season.

Grant, who still leads the City in rushing with 832 yards, carried just six times for nine yards in North Hollywood's 7-3 loss to University. He reinjured his right ankle in practice this week.

"It wasn't exactly a good week for us, was it?" Sellers asked.

What made Sellers' injury even more painful was that it occurred while he was playing free safety. With Birmingham trailing, 10-3, in the first quarter and Narbonne driving toward another score, Sellers intercepted a pass at the Birmingham 10-yard line.

The play turned the tide of the game and turned Sellers inside-out. On the interception return, he was tackled from behind and body-slammed to the turf. There was nothing safe about playing safety.

"The guy rammed my shoulder right into the ground," Sellers said. "I felt the pain right away."

Sellers was taken to the hospital for X-rays. His team managed to rally and win, raising its record to 2-2.

"It's nice to see they did it without me," he said.

Grant, who missed five games last season with an assortment of leg injuries, was slowed by the sprained ankle, a souvenir from last week's 43-21 loss to Sylmar. Friday, Grant was used primarily to distract the University defense.

Coach Fred Grimes stuck by his decision to rest the 5-foot, 6-inch tailback, despite the team's second loss in as many weeks.

"We weren't even going to suit him up," Grimes said. "But Chip talked us into it. So we basically just gave him token carries and used him as a decoy."

Without Grant, who has scored 13 touchdowns to lead the City, the Husky rushing game sputtered its way to an anorexic 21 yards on 27 carries. North Hollywood fell to 2-2, 0-2 in Pac 8 League play.

"You always want to help your team," Grant said. "It's tough standing on the sidelines, but my coach was using good judgment. He didn't want me to get hurt."

Add cousins: Things didn't turn out too well for Sylmar running back Jerome Casey, either. Casey entered the week with 452 yards, second only to Grant.

Casey, a sophomore, was held to 22 yards on 11 carries in Sylmar's 2-0 loss to Grant.

Casey's cousin and backfield mate, junior fullback Robert Augustus, finished with 50 yards on 11 carries for the Spartans (2-1-1). Augustus had ranked 10th among City rushers with 235 yards entering the game.

"Not a good week for the Valley guys in general, I guess," Sellers said.

Change of heart: After winning the 100- and 200-meter dashes at the CIF state championships in Sacramento in June, Taft's Quincy Watts decided he would not play basketball his senior season.

He did not want to risk another injury after a stress fracture in his left foot sidelined him for most of the 1986 basketball season. And he did not want to risk his career as a sprinter. Watts qualified for the 1988 Olympic Trials in both the 100 (10.30 personal best) and 200 meters (20.50).

It appeared to be a simple and final decision.

It wasn't.

Watts (6-3, 197 pounds) informed Taft basketball Coach Jim Woodard last week that he would play for the Toreadors this season.

"I found out that I missed the game this summer," said Watts, who averaged 14.9 points and 8.1 rebounds as Taft's starting center as a sophomore. "I thought about it for a while and just decided that I wanted to play my senior year."

What about injuries? A broken ankle could stall a brilliant track career, one that surely will gain him a scholarship to a major university. UCLA, USC, Florida and Houston all have contacted him.

"I'm going to get my feet taped for all the games this season," he said. "That should prevent the type of injury I had last year."

While Woodard was delighted with Watts' decision to return to basketball, Quincy's father, Rufus, was not.

"I wanted him to concentrate on his studies and track," Rufus Watts said. "That's where I think his future lies. But trying to sell a 17-year-old on the future is kind of hard. They don't want to deal with reality."

Rufus has permitted Quincy to play under one condition--he keep his grades up.

Split decision: After being sacked nine times for minus-86 yards in Granada Hills' 42-14 loss to Carson on Friday, quarterback Jeremy Leach was asked if he'd like to see the Highlanders (2-2) play Carson again this season, say, in the City 4-A playoffs.

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