Aylsworth & Aylsworth sounds like the name of a business firm. But at Santa Monica High School, the words refer to the football passing combine of brothers Bob and John Aylsworth.
Bob, a junior quarterback, and John, a senior wide receiver, began the year doing good business on the football field, but the pair have recently fallen on hard times.
In the Vikings' opener, a 31-7 rout of Pasadena, Bob passed for more than 200 yards and two touchdowns, including one to his brother, and John had 10 catches for more than 140 yards.
Santa Monica won its first three games and then lost to Palos Verdes, 35-34, after leading in the fourth quarter, 34-13. In the four games, Bob completed 52 of 94 passes for 714 yards and seven touchdowns and threw five interceptions, including three against Palos Verdes. In that stretch John had 28 receptions for 352 yards and three touchdowns; he also caught three 2-point conversion passes.
But last week, on Friday the Thirteenth, Aylsworth & Aylsworth declined almost as precipitously as the Dow Jones industrial average did the same day.
Unbeaten Hawthorne trounced Santa Monica, 32-7, and came close to shutting down the Aylsworths. Bob was five for 21 for 47 yards with one interception, and John had two catches for 30 yards.
The loss probably knocked Santa Monica out of the Bay League race and put a severe crimp in the Vikings' playoff hopes. Santa Monica Coach Tebb Kusserow said that for the rest of the season his team will just be "fighting to play well."
Whether Santa Monica, a young, inexperienced team, and the Aylsworths can bounce back from two straight losses remains to be seen. The team must place its hopes in the resilience of youth.
The team will also have to hope for the return of senior tailback Mark Harper, a Times All-Westside selection last year when he rushed for 1,540 yards and scored 27 touchdowns in the regular season, and senior fullback Mike North. Both have missed the last three games because of injuries, Harper with tendinitis in the arch of his left foot and North with a severe hamstring tear.
Operating without their best runners has put a strain on the Santa Monica passing attack. Defenses have been able to key on quarterback Bob Aylsworth and his receivers and not worry much about the running game.
Harper, in addition to being a tough runner, is also a good receiver out of the backfield. In the team's opening win over Pasadena, he ran for two touchdowns and caught a pass for another while hobbled by his foot injury.
If Harper and North don't return soon, Santa Monica will have to depend on inexperienced replacements and its passing.
Although Bob is in his first year on the varsity, the Aylsworths have worked together as passer and receiver for several years and have good football assets. When John was a sophomore and Bob a freshman, they formed a fine passing combination for a sophomore team that was undefeated and won a league championship.
In addition to playing in football and basketball leagues last summer (both are guards on the Santa Monica varsity), the brothers spent hours on the beach each day, rehearsing their moves and timing as passer and receiver.
"We actually started throwing the week after basketball was over," Bob said, "because we were so excited about this year in football," when they would be together on the varsity.
Their beach practices have not been--and may never be--as productive as those of Notre Dame quarterback Gus Dorais and receiver Knute Rockne in the summer of 1913 at Cedar Point on Lake Erie. Dorais and Rockne used the forward pass (legal but unused in college football until then) they had perfected that summer to upset heavily favored Army the following fall. Rockne went on to a fabled career as Notre Dame's football coach.
The Aylsworths would like to play football together in college, although both realize that is a long shot. Both think that being brothers and knowing each other well make them better football players.
Because he is so familiar with John's moves, Bob said, he knows where to locate him on the field. "If I scramble, it is easy for me to pick up where he is is, whether he has gone deep or short."
Bob said that he and John "are real competitive, but we are also real supportive when things go bad. We're in competition, but we cooperate to make each other look good."
John said that Bob throws "a very hard pass; I like to compare his throws to (those of John) Elway" of the Denver Broncos. "And he is very elusive and knows how to scramble."
John said he has tried to pattern himself after Steve Largent, the record-setting Seattle Seahawks receiver known for the precise routes he runs and for his clutch catches.
"Largent runs great routes," John said, and he likes to think that he does also. "If I ever run a timing pattern, Bob will know that I'll be in the right place."