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The Preps

Southern California Football Players Chasing National Records

October 22, 1987|Scott Howard-Cooper

It's still early, but Todd Marinovich, the quarterback at Capistrano Valley High School in Mission Viejo, may not be the only Southern California football player to end up with a national record, or at least finish high in the rankings.

Through six weeks of play in the Southern Section and four in the City, this has become more of a mass pursuit than a lonely chase, with several quarterbacks, running backs and receivers on record paces. Whether they can keep up, of course, remains to be seen.

The running backs:

--Glyn Milburn of Santa Monica, an All-Ocean League defensive back last season as a junior, has made his mark in his first full-time chance on offense, rushing for 1,319 yards and 21 touchdowns in 5 games, including 256 yards last Friday in about 20 minutes of playing time. That puts his game average at 263.8 yards, with the third-best U.S. mark at 263.3 yards. Ken Hall, a former San Marino resident who played for Sugar Land, Tex., in the 1950s, has the 263.3 record as well as two greater than that, including an out-of-sight 337.1 yards.

--Sean Cheatham of Garden Grove Rancho Alamitos has scored 139 points in 6 games, an average of 23.2 per game. David Overstreet is third on the all-time list at 26.0, with a fellow from Wheaton, Ill., named Harold (Red) Grange second at 31.9 and Hall first at 32.9. Cheatham has played with a slightly separated shoulder the last two weeks.

The receivers:

--Harold Champion of Palisades, though one of five targets that quarterback Perry Klein usually has on each play, is on course for a couple of records. His 155.5 yards per game through four weeks is almost 21 yards ahead of the record of 134.7 yards set by Brian Streiffer of Metairie, La., in 1984, and his 19.4-yard average a catch, if it holds, will be second all-time and first in California, ahead of John McKay Jr.'s 17.9 for La Puente Bishop Amat in 1970.

--Brian Fleming of Laguna Hills has averaged 125.3 yards in receptions. If he maintains that pace he will finish ahead of former Claremont star Travis Watkins, who averaged 121.6, in fourth place on the single-season list and less than a yard behind third place.

The quarterbacks:

Klein of Palisades, a junior who has started just seven games on the varsity, needs a calculator as much as a receiver these days. He is averaging 379.8 yards passing through four games, far ahead of the year-old national record of 335.4 by Ty Detmer of San Antonio. The 379.8 average projected through the nine regular-season games would give him 3,418 yards, good for somewhere in the top 10 for single-season yardage.

Klein, who has the advantage of working with a highly regarded head coach, Jack Epstein, and an assistant with major-college experience at quarterback, Steve Clarkson, is also in the running to make the national list for most attempts in a season, 488 is the record, most completions, 268 is tops, and completion percentage, 67.9%.

Klein is at 65.2% in completions, thanks in part to the two-foot shovel passes he, uh, throws five or six times a game. Others in his percentage league, with 275 attempts needed to qualify for the record book: Jamie Martin of Arroyo Grande, 68.8%; Jeremy Leach of Granada Hills, 66.4%; and Darren Renfro of Newhall Hart, 64.7%.

Clarkson, who played for Vic Cuccia at L.A. Wilson and Jack Elway at San Jose State, may get a place in the record book , perhaps for grandest overstatement of the year. Asked his opinion of Klein last week, Clarkson said: "If he stays healthy and keeps his head, I think he will develop into the best quarterback in the history of high school football."

Palisades might better worry about Klein's being the best quarterback in the City this year, which is not automatic, despite what the numbers say. Leach, a Granada Hills senior, showed considerable talent last Friday in completing 21 of 42 passes for 223 yards under constant pressure from Carson.

As for Marinovich, the quest to become the best quarterback ever, at least in the statistics, seems realistic. He will go into this week's game against Dana Hills of Dana Point needing 776 yards to pass former L.A. Wilson standout Ron Cuccia in career passing yards at 8,804. Capistrano Valley (6-0) has three regular-season games left after Dana Hills.

The Hawthorne track team, which has competed in the Texas Relays three times, the Jumbo Elliott Invitational once and the Pathmark indoor meet once in the last three years, is planning its biggest trip of all, the Penn Relays.

If they go, the Cougars will be the first California high school team to run in the prestigious meet in Philadelphia.

Twenty competitors and coaches are expected to make the trip for the three-day meet in April, with fund raising efforts under way to offset the $7,000 cost. The Penn Relays are scheduled about a month after several Cougars compete in the the 1987 Pathmark meet, to be held this season in Washington.

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