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Sports Talk : Kennedy's Baseball Coach Prizes Inheritance

April 12, 1990|Fernando Dominguez

Perhaps the one drawback to inheriting something valuable is keeping it that way once you have it.

Manuel (Manny) Alvarado faced that challenge when he took over the perennially successful Kennedy (Granada Hills) High School baseball program.

But he quickly figured what to do with his hand-me-down. Last season, his first at the helm, he led the Golden Cougars to the City 4-A title with a 4-3 victory over Palisades in the championship game at Dodger Stadium.

Now the question is, can he improve Kennedy's 22-7 overall record of 1989 and its 12-4 North Valley League-winning mark? Can his team repeat?

"Our pitching is better than it was last year," said Alvarado. "And if Garrett Anderson and Lazaro Campos have the years they are capable of having, we'll be able to score some runs."

Anderson is an All-City center fielder who hit .362 and knocked in 31 runs in 1989, and Campos is a three-year varsity catcher who batted .367 last season. "Campos is a potential All-City catcher. He's a big boy who has occasional power. He also handles the pitchers well," said Alvarado, 36.

Alvarado is concerned, however, with the inexperience of his team and with pitching-rich rival San Fernando. The Tigers finished 1 1/2 games behind Kennedy in league play last year.

"I think San Fernando is always going to be our toughest competition," Alvarado said of the school where he was an infielder in the early '70s and later an unpaid assistant to Coach Steve Marden before getting the Kennedy job. "I love playing against them. . . . It's like playing at home," Alvarado added.

Kennedy indeed made itself at home in the team's first game at San Fernando this season, beating the Tigers, 8-4.

Bell High School soccer coach William Albano disagrees with the state interscholastic rule that gave his team a second chance at the 1989-90 City title game, but he nevertheless believes that it must be respected and enforced.

The controversy developed after Monroe's 2-1 victory over Bell in the playoff semifinals when someone told Albano that Monroe players Oscar Rios and William Leal had played on a club team during the high school season, which violated the rule.

Monroe was disqualified and Bell went on to win its first City soccer championship with a 1-0 victory over Kennedy (Granada Hills) on a head shot by Jorge Miranda.

"I don't like the rule. We have been fighting it for 19 years and the state doesn't want to change it. It is impossible for a coach to know where all his kids are on a Sunday, but the rule is there and you have to live with it," commented Albano, who coached the team to an 11-1-2 record and the Southeastern Conference crown.

"I don't think we stole anything. I had a good team and I think it deserved to win."

The team was led by juniors Robert Estrada, the All-City Most Valuable Player, forward Jose Medina (14 goals) and Jose Flavio Rodriguez, a midfielder who scored eight goals and who Albano considers the "brain of the team."

For the second consecutive season, the Roosevelt girls basketball team conked out at the doorstep of the City 3-A title. And it was Marshall who once again derailed the Roughriders.

Roosevelt, 16-3 overall and Eastern League co-champions with Huntington Park at 11-1, lost to Marshall, 49-47, in the semifinals.

Huntington Park also came up short with a 56-49 loss at the hands of a tough University squad in the other semifinal. Coach Bonnie Jones' team ended the season with an overall record of 16-5, and with two players on the All-League teams--Maritza Cruz (first team) and Jeannette Vessells (second).

Roosevelt's setback to Marshall, which went on to win the 3-A title, prompted Coach Lorenzo Garcia to contemplate quitting because of the disappointment. But with All-League guards Rosa Mendez and Angie Quezada back next year, Garcia reconsidered.

"I figured maybe three's the charm," he said. "I'm going to give it one more shot."

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