The reviews are in. The Highlander Highlights, the student newspaper at Granada Hills High School, said in one recent edition that senior quarterback Jeremy Leach is the "premier passer in the City this year." It says so in the article written by . . .
They are the same--the strong-armed star quarterback who, with the help of three good receivers, has led Granada Hills to the City 4-A championship game for the first time since 1970 and the journalism student who covers the football team for the Highlander Highlights.
The dual role has called for some public self-evaluation--Leach criticized Leach for completing 2 of 11 passes in the first half against Kennedy of Granada Hills--and the obvious conflict:
How does someone who just may be the premier passer in the City this year write about his 2,493 yards passing, 32 touchdowns and 8 victories in 11 games without sounding as if he has an ego the size of East Los Angeles College, site of Friday night's title game against Carson?
"Sometimes, someone else will write down how they thought I did in a game," Leach said. "That stuff about being the premier passer, the (journalism) teacher wrote that. I wrote the whole thing except that sentence. It looks real bad calling yourself the premier passing quarterback in the City. It's kind of funny trying to explain it to people.
"I try to leave as much of myself out of the stories as I can. I talk about the team as much as possible. . . . I'll just try to mention my stats."
During the weekend, Leach, the reporter, was working on his preview of the championship game for the Highlander Highlights. He will write in this Friday's edition that Granada Hills will have to play its best game of the year to win. He also will say that Leach, the quarterback, can't afford to throw any stupid passes, something his alter ego, the journalist, has seen happen a few times.
He will have to write something on the outcome, too. A Granada Hills victory would be an upset, but, if it happens, Leach thinks he can capture the moment for the readers.
"That would be a great article," he said.
The premier passer in the City can't wait to read it.
Although you couldn't tell Saturday night in the winds at Burbank, Jamie Martin from Arroyo Grande is a fine passer who is also one of the most underrated quarterbacks in Southern California.
He was No. 1 in the Southern Section in passing yardage last season as a junior before going out with a knee injury in the sixth game. This season he led the Eagles to their first league title in football and has attracted the attention of most of the Pacific 10 Conference schools. For the moment, however, winning the Northwestern Conference title with consecutive upset victories over Hart of Newhall and Burroughs of Burbank was the best proving ground.
"Respect," said Martin, who finished with 2,258 yards passing and 16 touchdowns. "This means respect for the entire team."
That was enough to overshadow one of the ugliest endings in memory. Seconds after Arroyo Grande ran out the clock in a 15-10 victory, a fight broke out. Aside from the usual pushing and shoving, a player from one team was kicked while on the ground by two from the other side. After things had settled down a bit, assistant coaches squared off and threw punches.
To top it off, comments by Butch McElwee, Burroughs' first-year coach, directed toward Arroyo Grande Coach John Huss, formerly of Hoover of Glendale, were a giant step backward in coaching class. In an incident in which neither staff did a very good job of controlling players, not to mention themselves, McElwee delivered an amazing rabbit punch.
"I can't believe their (Arroyo Grande) coaches were involved in the fight," he told the Daily News. "Their head coach had one of our kids on the ground and was punching him. Huss was the same way when he was at Hoover. That's what he teaches his kids."
The City soccer playoff pairings have been released, and San Pedro, the defending champion, is seeded No. 1, while Banning didn't make it to postseason play. But for a day, Banning went one better than the best.
It was Dec. 3 when Banning played its best game of the season. It wouldn't have taken much for that to happen, considering the Pilots finished 3-7-3 this season and 0-13 in 1986, but they did need two goals in the last three minutes to beat San Pedro at San Pedro, 2-1.
"It's the biggest upset I've seen in a long time," said Val Rodriguez, who is in his 16th year at Banning.
San Pedro entered the game with a 25-1 record through two seasons. Banning was 2-20-1 in the same span, including losses of 9-2 and 4-2 to San Pedro this season. The Pirates' Raul Haro, the City player of the year, had seven of the goals in those games.
In this game, however, he was held to a goal on a penalty kick that put San Pedro ahead, 1-0, with six minutes to play. Banning came back to win on goals by Elizar Castillo and, with a minute to play, Moses Melena.