Johnel Turner is learning how to play quarterback. He already knew how to throw, but now, it appears, he has discovered how to pass. No longer do Oxnard High receivers fear for their finger bones.
Turner, a sophomore, is a gifted, but high-strung athlete. Coach Jack Davis says Turner has thrown a pass 65 yards in the air during a game. But early in the season it sometimes seemed as if he was trying to throw the ball through--instead of to--his receivers.
"He's throwing the ball with a little more touch now," Davis said. "At the beginning of the season, he was knocking people down."
And consecutive opponents have rolled over.
In a 41-21 victory over Santa Barbara last Friday, Turner accounted for four touchdowns on offense and set up another by recovering a fumble.
He scored on runs of 28, 19 and 1 yards and completed a five-yard pass to Ricky Palazuelos for another touchdown. He had 47 yards rushing and 62 passing.
Turner leads the Yellowjackets in both categories with 920 yards passing and 367 yards rushing.
Most importantly, his flashes of brilliant athletic ability are no longer negated by inexperience.
At the beginning of the season, Turner was known to run plays before his receivers were set. He also threw five interceptions in a game.
"He never did anything real bad, but things that got us five-yard penalties," Davis said. "And he forced the ball. Now he's more patient." In the past three games, Turner has thrown only two interceptions.
Super sophomores: James Gaston, who has been with the Oxnard varsity only three games after spending the first part of the season on the sophomore team, has made an immediate impact on the Yellowjacket passing game.
He has 10 catches for 338 yards--an average of 33.8 yards a catch--and 3 touchdowns.
Top gun: The two top rushers in the county met on the same field last Friday when Simi Valley played Camarillo. Bill Bell of Camarillo won the duel with 184 yards and 2 touchdowns on 30 carries as the Scorpions won, 28-6. But Tony Kerr of Simi Valley, who rushed for 154 yards on 21 carries, still leads Bell on the season, 1,166 to 1,063.
In a rush: Marc Monestime of Thousand Oaks has gained 3,455 yards in his career, just 254 yards shy of Hilria Johnson's county rushing record. When Thousand Oaks plays Channel Islands in a Marmonte League game Friday, Monestime will oppose John Johnson, Hilria's brother.
John Johnson leads the Channel Islands rushing attack with 615 yards and 12 touchdowns on 75 carries. Monestime has 1,054 yards and 12 touchdowns on 164 carries.
Double trouble: E. J. Miller and Victor Caro of Channel Islands were threats to score on both sides of the ball last Friday in a 56-18 win over Royal.
Miller, the fullback, rushed 3 times for 74 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also returned an interception for a touchdown and blocked a punt.
Caro, a wide receiver, caught 2 passes for 109 yards and 2 touchdowns and intercepted two passes, returning one 55 yards for a touchdown.
Scoring machine: Jason Stein scored two more touchdowns in Oak Park's 38-0 victory over St. Bonaventure last Friday, giving him a school-record 15 touchdowns this season. Erik Affholter, a starting wide receiver at USC, held the previous record with 13 touchdowns in 1983.
Air waves: Santa Paula, which is making a bid for the Frontier League championship, has the county's top pass-catch combination in quarterback Will McInerney and receiver Marcos Sanchez.
McInerney has completed 111 of 179 attempts (62%) for 1,427 yards and 18 touchdowns. Sanchez has 44 catches for 649 yards and 9 touchdowns.
Add Santa Paula: Mike Flores, a 310-pound defensive lineman for the Cardinals, had a rare chance at glory last Friday.
Santa Paula had just sacked Calabasas quarterback Ceo Wimmer, who fumbled on the Coyotes' 15-yard line. Flores was there to scoop up the ball, but he only ran four yards before crashing into the only person between him and the goal line.
"He ran right into the only player that could have tackled him," said Mike Tsoutsouvas, Santa Paula's coach. "It was like plastic seeking a missile. We have players who run like they're in darkness. It's just short of amazing that they even make it on the football field."
He's impressed: Agoura may yet win the championship of the Frontier League and challenge for the Desert-Mountain Conference title, but the Charges are fortunate to be ineligible for the postseason in the smaller Inland Conference.
Agoura lost to Carpinteria, 36-6, last Friday and Charger Coach Frank Greminger said the Warriors deserve their No. 1 ranking in the Inland.
"That was the best-coached team I've seen all year," he said. "They get very few penalties. They know their offensive and defensive assignments. Their backs carry out their fakes, and they keep their feet moving on defense until a tackle is made or the whistle's been blown."
Agoura, which trailed, 8-0, at the half, was held to a season-low in points and a five-year low in rushing with 55 yards.
"If you want to attend a coaching clinic, go watch Carpinteria play a game," Greminger said.
Good riddance: Rio Mesa escaped--literally--with a 25-24 win over San Marcos last Friday. Had the Spartans scored again, they might have ended up with a tie or a loss considering the way Danny Gallegos of San Marcos played on special teams.
Gallegos accounted for his team's only three touchdowns on kickoff returns of 97 and 94 yards and a 67-yard run.
For the record: When Ventura improved its record to 8-0 with a 21-14 with over Dos Pueblos, it became the first football team in school history to win its first eight games in a season. Ventura has been playing for 64 years.