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ATHLETE OF THE WEEK : Canoga Park's Conover Points Team in Direction of City Title

October 28, 1987|JOHN ORTEGA

After rushing for 934 yards, scoring 98 points and being named Sunset League offensive player of the year last season, Mike Conover could have been expected to set lofty individual goals in 1987.

But if the Canoga Park running back is goal-oriented, he has only the team's interests at heart.

"I didn't have any individual goals at the start of the season," Conover said. "I just wanted our team to win. I just wanted to help our team score as many points as we could."

Conover recorded career highs in points scored (32) and yards rushing (272 yards on 31 carries) as Canoga Park defeated Van Nuys, 38-20, Friday night.

The 5-11, 175-pound senior scored four touchdowns and kicked five extra points and a field goal as Canoga Park (4-1) opened defense of the Sunset League title it shared with Taft in 1986.

"I wasn't really surprised," Conover said. "Not with the great blocking from the offensive line. They really did the job. I was welcomed into the secondary on almost every play.

"I don't think I got tackled at the line of scrimmage the whole night."

Canoga Park Coach Rudy Lugo, one of Conover's biggest supporters, was surprised with Conover's performance.

"Mike's a great runner and we like to get the ball to him because he's always capable of breaking a big one," Lugo said. "But I didn't think he'd run for that much yardage. Van Nuys has a tough team."

The Van Nuys defense, however, was vulnerable against the run, especially in the second half when Conover carried the ball on 20 of the Hunters' 25 plays from scrimmage.

"I wasn't really thinking about how many yards I was gaining or how many times I was carrying the ball," Conover said. "I was just taking it play by play, first down by first down."

Although Conover is well ahead of last year's pace--he has rushed for 686 yards and scored 85 points in 5 games, he is not concerned with individual statistics, only the team's welfare.

"We want to win the league title, at least, and we think we've got a pretty good chance at the City title," Conover said. "We feel like it's our turn. A lot of us have been playing together since ninth grade and we really want to win it because it's our last chance."

Franklin defeated Canoga Park in the first round of the playoffs last year en route to the City 3-A title.

With Conover putting Canoga Park on the scoreboard, the Hunters could reach the final this time around.

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