It's supposed to be a dream match-up between Ventura County's best running backs. In Lane 1: Freddie Bradley of Hueneme. Lane 2: John Johnson of Channel Islands.
But instead of bursting from three-point stances for three-figure yardage totals, Bradley and Johnson may be hobbling for whatever they can get.
Both have sprained right ankles and are questionable for Friday's game at Hueneme. Either one can make a significant impact on the game.
"If Freddie doesn't play, I might as well quit coaching and sell shoes at J. C. Penney," Hueneme Coach George Machado said.
Last season, Bradley was another name among a handful of good Ventura County running backs. He ran for 665 yards (12th best in the county) and 10 touchdowns (8th best).
But Bradley, who was listed by California Magazine as one of the state's top 50 players, became more than another runner when he sprinted for two touchdowns in Hueneme's 14-13 upset of Hawthorne on Friday.
Bradley scored on a 48-yard run on Hueneme's first play from scrimmage and again on a 42-yard draw. However, the senior left in the fourth quarter after a defender fell on his right ankle.
"Our offense became the California Lottery game," Machado quipped. "We would spin the dial and whatever number came up, that player ran the next play."
Johnson, who led Ventura County with 1,672 yards and 27 touchdowns, played sparingly as Channel Islands lost to Rio Mesa, 19-18. Johnson did manage to carry the ball 10 times for 83 yards, including a 47-yard scoring run that pulled the Raiders to within one late in a game. A two-point conversion attempt failed.
"It will be a great match-up, if they can both limp out and play," Machado said.
Add Johnson: Johnson was selected to the Super Prep Pre-Season All-American team for being one of the top 20 running backs in the nation.
Upset special: Hawthorne was ranked third in the Southern Section Division II and boasts Curtis Conway, described by Super Prep Magazine as the top option quarterback in the nation.
Conway, a senior, accounted for 2,351 yards in total offense and 39 of Hawthorne's 42 touchdowns last season. Conway, wide receiver Keith Pouncey and running back Dean Dunbar were on Hawthorne's state champion track team.
"It's like they had eight Freddie Bradley's to our one," Machado said. "Every one of them scared me, especially Conway. He's a Rembrandt with the ball. A real work of art."
Scouting report: Buena Coach Rick Scott hopes his team won't be a pushover Friday against Thousand Oaks, last year's Coastal Conference champion.
"They have the best offensive line we'll see this year," Scott said. "If we don't stop their running game on first or second down, we'll be on roller-skates the rest of the game."
Scott, who attended Thousand Oaks' 25-21 win over Chino last week, was especially impressed with tackle Rick McCathron (6 foot, 4 inches, 242 pounds). "He's probably the biggest and fastest offensive lineman in Southern California. Every Division I school must be after him."
Local scouting bureaus agree that McCathron might be one of the fastest linemen, but are uncertain where he ranks among the top players in the country.
"We have him timed at 4.92 in the 40," said Allan Wallace, publisher of Super Prep Magazine. "That's exceptional for guy that big."
"We believe he's a Division I prospect, but we don't know where he ranks until we get a chance to see him," said Dick Lascola, who supplies scouting reports to more than 100 universities.
More McCathron: Although McCathron only plays offense for the Lancers, many colleges are interested in him as a defensive lineman because of his speed.
"It's my philosophy to use 11 players on offense and 11 different players on defense," Thousand Oaks Coach Bob Richards said. "Rick is such integral part of our offense that we can afford to use smaller players on defense."
More streaks: Channel League teams swept four games from Marmonte League teams last week, outscoring them, 105-55. . . . Nordhoff was shut out for the second consecutive year and lost its fourth game in a row to Carpinteria, 35-0. Nordhoff has been outscored, 119-18, in the four encounters. The Rangers last beat Carpinteria, 13-6, in 1984.
Ups and downs of punting: Steve Blundell of Nordhoff had three punts travel an average of 52.7 yards, including a 63-yarder. Blundell also returned a punt 52 yards. . . . Jeff Cook of St. Bonaventure, however, had trouble punting past the first-down marker. Cook's three punts traveled 6, 7 and 12 yards.
Another side of beef: St. Bonaventure boasts the largest line in the Tri-Valley League with center Jeff Lawson (6-3, 210), senior tackle Brian Bass (6-3, 235) and guard Mike Fowler (6-2, 215).
Coach Damian Wilkerson nicknamed the trio The Separators.
"Whatever accolades our offense receives, it will be because of them," Wilkerson said.
Don't forget the pasta: St. Bonaventure players should enjoy their team meals better this season. Wilkerson ran an Italian restaurant for five years before returning to coaching in 1983.