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Monestime Gets Enough 6-Yard Gains for Record

November 26, 1987|TIM BROWN | Times Staff Writer

Once and for all, it's pronounced steam . As in a head of. As in Marc Mone stime , Ventura County's career rushing leader.

Monestime broke Hilria Johnson's 8-year-old record the old-fashioned way. He earrrrned it. Say what you will about his inability to break the big gainer--and many have--but Monestime has the numbers, the record and, as usual, the last--if not the longest--laugh.

"Personally, I've never had that feeling that he was going to go coast to coast," Westlake Coach George Contreras said. "I was more worried with him getting five yards, five yards, five yards. Over and over again."

More like six yards, over and over again. In 33 games as tailback for Thousand Oaks High, Monestime has gained 3,769 yards in 628 carries, a 6.0 average. And Monestime shrugs off any criticism like he shakes off Westlake defenders--he rushed for 230 yards against Westlake in his first varsity start in 1985.

"It bothered me in a way, but I just go out there and play the best I can," he said. "If I break it, that's pretty good. If I don't, that's OK as long as I play a good game."

It's usually good enough.

The Lancers have made the Coastal Conference playoffs in each of Monestime's three years, including Marmonte League championships in 1985 and 1986. They play Palmdale on Friday at home in the second round.

Thousand Oaks Coach Bob Richards seem to almost prefer the grind-it-out approach. He wouldn't care if Monestime actually gained six yards on every carry.

"He's a good, solid inside runner," Richards said. "And I've seen him break enough long runs to know that nobody brings him down from behind."

Monestime gained 1,261 yards as a sophomore and has had Johnson, who played quarterback at Channel Islands from 1977 to 1979, on the run since. Monestime rushed for 1,128 last year and has 1,380 this season.

But Monestime wasn't always a football player. For a year as a child, he played youth soccer. And hated it.

Monestime's father, Robert, enrolled him in the program. Robert Monestime had played soccer in his native Haiti, where the sport is No. 1.

In fact, Monestime might never have been No. 1 on any rushing list had a plot to overthrow the government not been discovered by

Haitian officials in 1967.

"He would be doing the same thing I was doing when I was his age," Robert Monestime, 42, said. "I was going to school, playing soccer and dating lots of girls."

The frivolity ended in 1967, when Robert's father, also named Marc Monestime, was one of 19 implicated in a scheme to revolt against the Haitian government. A second lieutenant in the army, the elder Marc Monestime was put to death by a firing squad.

Robert Monestime was exiled to the United States, where he met his wife, Berthe, in Boston while attending Northeastern. Berthe is also from Haiti.

Marc, 17, has never been to Haiti, and doesn't talk much of the tiny island in the West Indies. In fact, Monestime doesn't open up to many people.

"Marc basically likes to have fun," said Lancer linebacker Mack Humphrey, Monestime's best friend. "He comes off to people like he's quiet and shy, but he's really not like that."

Said Robert Monestime: "He's not an open person. He has a lot of reserve. Sometimes you have to pull things out of him."

To watch Monestime on the sideline, one could not deduce from his actions or facial expressions whether Thousand Oaks is winning or losing. He's attentive, focused.

"I just try to be into the game as much as I can when I'm on the sidelines," said Monestime, who occasionally plays linebacker. "I stand next to the coaches . . . ready to go in. I look for little things on the field that I need to be aware of."

A strong, powerful runner with 4.56 speed over 40 yards, Monestime's running style is a little Tony Dorsett, a little Marcus Allen. Monestime (5-11, 185) squares his shoulders quickly to the line and runs low to the ground, relying primarily on leg strength.

"Marc's a slasher," Richards said. "He's not the one who's going to outrun everybody to the corner and then downfield."

Monestime has tried other sports--he runs track and played basketball below the varsity level--but the conversation always returns to football.

"I've played other sports, but there's nothing quite like playing football," he said. "We're all like a family, and we all have a good time when we play, especially when we win."

Thousand Oaks won last Friday when Humphrey and the rest of the Lancers took special delight in Monestime's county record.

"When he broke that record I think I was happier than he was," Humphrey said.

As usual, Monestime was more concerned with the success of the team. As in Marc. As in Mone stime .

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