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Granada Hills' Glory Carries On

December 23, 1989|MIKE HISERMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Wade Young, where are you now? Coaches from nine football teams in the Western Athletic Conference probably would like to know.

Young is the only starting offensive back from Granada Hills High's 1987 City Section 4-A Division championship team who has not earned WAC newcomer-of-the-year honors in football.

Young, who played fullback for the Highlanders, took turns protecting quarterback Jeremy Leach and plowing a path for tailback Jamal Farmer.

Farmer, starting running back for Aloha Bowl-bound Hawaii, was chosen the conference's top newcomer this fall by an overwhelming margin over San Diego State quarterback Dan McGwire. The 5-foot-10, 223-pound redshirt freshman scored at least one touchdown in all but one of the Rainbows' nine games. Farmer rushed for 18 touchdowns to set an NCAA freshman record, and he was Hawaii's leading rusher with 986 yards.

He is the second consecutive winner of the award to have played for the Granada Hills team that upset Carson, 27-14, in the '87 title game.

Leach, who passed for 173 yards and three touchdowns in that City championship game, was the WAC's top newcomer in 1988. Leach, a two-year starter at New Mexico, was fourth among major-college quarterbacks in passing this season with 3,573 yards. Included was a 622-yard passing performance against New Mexico State in November. He is already New Mexico's career passing leader.

"That was the whole idea of why he went there," said Darryl Stroh, co-coach at Granada Hills. "His expectations were that he would set all the records and have the chance to lead the nation his last few years."

As a high school senior, Leach completed better than 60% of his passes for 2,666 yards and 35 touchdowns and threw only nine interceptions. Still, he was largely overlooked by big-time college programs when it came to scholarship time.

Leach wanted to attend Arizona State and the Sun Devils returned the interest until the last moment. Because of his interest in ASU, Leach chose to decline a scholarship offer from Washington State Coach Dennis Erickson.

Erickson, now coach at second-ranked Miami, told Stroh that he considered Leach the top quarterback recruit in the nation. But Washington State needed an oral commitment from Leach before the actual signing day and the quarterback, who had his heart set on playing for Arizona State, chose to pass.

Farmer was similarly discarded by national powers after rushing for 788 yards and 10 touchdowns during his senior season.

"We threw the ball a lot, but he was an awfully good back for us," Stroh said. "On our highlight film of that year, there were a lot of runs that were just exceptional. What he has accomplished you never expect, but I knew he would be successful in college."

So it is left for Young to continue the legacy, but, according to Stroh, the odds are not good.

"(Young) is going to Colorado, I think," Stroh said, "but I don't think he's playing football."

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