The pseudo Steel Curtain, so far undented and undaunted, gets another test tonight in the semifinals of the Big Five Conference football playoffs.
Fontana High School, in the town with a steel-industry background, will play Crespi of Encino, the school with a scoring background, tonight at 7:30 at Fontana. The game matches two of the top teams in the state and two of the top running backs in the Southern Section.
Crespi (10-1-1), the defending champion, has scored 87 points in the first two games of the playoffs but has also allowed 70.
The Celts are led by junior Russell White, who has rushed for 2,125 yards--10.5 a carry--and 33 touchdowns. He also has caught four scoring passes. The 37 touchdowns tie him with Dick Bass, who played for Vallejo in 1954, and Paul Hewitt of Monrovia in 1983 for fifth place on the state single-season list. Mike Carnell of Mission San Jose in Fremont tops the list with 44 in 1977.
Fontana (12-0), No. 1 in the Southern Section since the second week, has Derrick Malone, who has rushed for 1,645 yards--a 7.5 average--and a defense that has held opponents to an average of 5.2 points a game. The Steelers have four shutouts, and only Eisenhower of Rialto scored more than eight points against them.
In the other Big Five semifinal, Fountain Valley (8-4) plays Long Beach Wilson (7-4) at Veterans Stadium in Long Beach.
The Southern is the only conference with all four seeded teams still alive. Santa Ana (11-1) will play El Toro (10-2) at Santa Ana Stadium in a rematch of their 1986 title game, and Los Alamitos (11-1) will play Mission Viejo (11-1) at Orange Coast College.
The City will begin its playoffs, with Carson (9-0) top-seeded in the 4-A; Palisades (7-2) No. 1 in the 3-A, and Reseda (8-0) topping the 2-A.
The 3-A shapes up as the most competitive division. Palisades, led by quarterback Perry Klein, will play a wild-card team, L.A. Locke, in the quarterfinals. But Locke (6-3) will be no pushover, what with talented running back Darian Hagan and wide receiver Carl Winston leading an offense that has scored 29 points or more in three of its last four games. The winner of that one will get the winner of the game between San Pedro (6-3) and Woodland Hills Taft (7-2).
Only the 2-A has all teams with winning records.
Prep Notes El Segundo, a team that was tabbed to finish in a tie for fifth--and last--place in the Pioneer League in a preseason vote by coaches, has won two playoff games on the road to its first trip to the semifinals. The Eagles (9-3) will play host to Burbank Burroughs (11-1) tonight in the Northwestern Conference. . . . The Carson defense has "given up" an average of minus-17 yards rushing a game. The Colts (9-0) will meet El Camino Real of Woodland Hills (0-7-2) tonight at Gardena High.
The Crenshaw basketball team set a City record for most points in a game and missed the state record by just one in a 149-67 nonleague win Wednesday over Murphy of Los Angeles. Only Geyserville of the North Coast Section has ever scored more in a game in California, the Broncos having hit 150 in 1967. L.A. Jefferson set the former City mark at 147 in 1966. Crenshaw scored the 149 even without star John Staggers, who missed the game because a "coach's decision." As if it mattered. The Cougars, the top-ranked team in the City, had seven players in double figures, led by Doug Meekins with 23, David Hollaway with 20 and Cornelius Holden with 18.
Other basketball teams may have blown four-point leads with four seconds to play, but not like this. Burbank Burroughs, in its second game under new Coach Ira Sollod, had all but wrapped up the victory Wednesday night over St. Francis of La Canada in the first round of the Burbank-Hoover Tournament when Dan Murphy made two free throws to put the Indians up by four. But in celebrating, Murphy ran to the other end of the court and grabbed the rim as Frank Lagattuta threw up a last-second three-point shot. The officials called basket interference and a technical foul, giving Lagattuta the basket and sending him to the free throw line, where he made both attempts with no time remaining, giving St. Francis a 70-69 victory.