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Title Game Also For Bragging Rights in Wiggins Household

December 17, 1987|HEATHER HAFNER

People sitting near Albert and Roslyn Wiggins might be confused by their behavior at Saturday's City Section 3-A Division football championship game between Franklin High and Palisades at East Los Angeles College.

The Wigginses will be sitting among Franklin's fans and will cheer when Franklin stops a Palisades pass. But they also will laud Palisades' efforts.

Their ambivalent stance is easily explained, however. Their son Keith plays for Franklin. And younger son Jonathan plays for Palisades.

"We're very excited and proud that both of our boys are in the game," Roslyn Wiggins said.

Had the two teams met in last season's final, both sons would have been playing for Palisades. Keith, who played for the Dolphins his sophomore and junior seasons, transferred this season to Franklin.

"I feel as if my situation at Franklin is better suited for me in the long run," Keith said. "But I'd be a liar to say that I didn't miss some of the people at Pali."

Keith has become an integral part of Franklin's defense, which is one of the City's finest. The senior cornerback has 35 tackles, 4 blocked kicks and 3 interceptions.

Although much has been said about Franklin's high-powered, pass-oriented offense, the defense has allowed an average of only 162 yards a game.

"Our defense has carried us for the past three or four years," Franklin co-Coach Robin Cardona said. "Keith has been one of the keys to the defense. A lot of teams don't like to throw his way."

Few teams have been successful against Franklin with either the pass or the rush.

Senior Jose Aguilar was selected the Freeway League's co-most valuable player. He had 85 tackles, caused 6 fumbles, recovered 9 fumbles, had 5 interceptions, blocked 2 field-goal attempts and 1 extra point and recorded 6 sacks. He has also been responsible for calling defensive audibles.

Other top defenders are linemen Eric Fiore (54 tackles), Gerald Larranaga (50 tackles and a team-high 8 sacks) and Gabriel Lopez (38 tackles and 4 sacks).

"They have a fine defense," Palisades Coach Jack Epstein said. "I think it is one of their biggest strengths."

To stop Palisades' Perry Klein and Co., it will have to be impressive.

Klein, a senior quarterback, has completed 301 of 440 passes for 3,702 yards and 35 touchdowns. He has thrown 13 interceptions. Klein has had success with a trio of receivers this season.

Harold Champion has 71 receptions for 1,338 yards and 13 touchdowns. Robert Scott has 77 catches for 786 yards and 4 touchdowns and Carl Gilliam has 22 receptions for 396 yards and 2 touchdowns.

But Cardona said that Franklin's secondary is capable of handling Palisades this weekend.

Besides Wiggins, Franklin starts Ernie Barraza (48 tackles and two interceptions) at cornerback. However, Franklin recently lost its starting strong and free safeties to ineligibility. Replacing Adrian DeNada and George Porras will be Lucio Solano and Jon Petrie.

"If we let them throw that little alley-oop pass, we'll be in trouble," Cardona said. "But we get up for big games. And they don't get much bigger than Saturday."

And players don't get much bigger than Franklin nose guard Juan Cardona. The 6-3 280-pound senior teams with inside linebacker Richard Castro (72 tackles) and junior tackle Robert Branscome. But Cardona believes Franklin's success could ride on the high emotions of Wiggins.

"Anytime you have a kid quit your program there has to be hard feelings," Cardona said.

Wiggins admits that not all of his ex-teammates will be happy to see him again, but most, he believes, will treat him as they have any other opponent.

"I don't think there will be any hard feelings, win or lose," he said.

"I believe that some of the players feel that I'm at an advantage," he said. "But this is a new and improved Palisades team. I grew up there but I feel as if I've grown just a bit more at Franklin.

Any rivalry that develops between the teams will not cross the family boundary, Jonathan said.

"I'd like to see him do well but I'd still like to win the game," said Jonathan, who has one interception this season. "He said he'd be rooting for me, too. We don't talk about it much. We try to change the subject. I asked him what kind of offense they run and he just laughed and said, 'I don't know.' "

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