Friday nights were when they shined, in an atmosphere of liniment, damp earth and perfume, and amid a colorful swirl, seen from behind their face masks, of classmates, parents, thumping bands, raging coaches and chanting cheerleaders.
Those who shined the brightest form the 1990 Times Southeast All-Star High School Football Team.
Fourteen schools are represented on the all-star team, led by Bell Gardens with three players, including back/wide receiver of the year Jesse Rafanan.
The lineman of the year is Fernando Hernandez of Whittier.
Coach of the year is Willie Norman of Glenn High in Norwalk. His team was plagued with injuries and one of his best players was seriously wounded in a post-game shooting, but Norman still led the Eagles to a 9-3 record.
Norman, Rafanan and Hernandez will be honored at an awards breakfast at 8:30 a.m. Sunday at the Anaheim Hilton Hotel. The winner of the Glenn Davis Trophy for the best player in Southern California will be presented at the breakfast.
The all-Southeast team, selected on the basis of a poll of coaches:
Jesse Rafanan, Bell Gardens, wide receiver--"He's a great player, one of the best I've had," Bell Gardens Coach Dave Newell said of the 6-3, 185-pound Rafanan, the Southeast back/receiver of the year. Rafanan caught 41 passes for 773 yards and seven touchdowns. He also had 41 tackles and eight interceptions and was the most valuable player of the Whitmont League.
Juaquin Hawkins, Lynwood, wide receiver--The 6-7 Hawkins caught 20 passes for 343 yards and two touchdowns. As a defensive back, he was in on 78 tackles and had five interceptions and three blocked kicks. He is going to Cal State Long Beach as a basketball player.
Ryan Granillo, St. Paul, tight end--The 6-4, 220-pound Granillo, who was all-Mission League, had a 13-yard average on pass catches and excelled as a blocker. "We ran to his side," said Swordsmen Coach Miguel Olmedo.
Armando Ramirez, South Gate, lineman--South Gate Coach Gary Cordray calls Ramirez a "super pass blocker." Ramirez, who can bench-press 280 pounds and run the 40-yard dash in 4.9 seconds, started for three years, during which the Rams were 29-6-1.
Mike Cardona, La Mirada, lineman--A repeater on the all-Southeast team, Cardona, at 6 feet 4 and 275 pounds, is a Division I college prospect.
Matt Hicks, El Rancho, lineman--"The most dominant run blocker I have coached or seen in 28 years of coaching," said El Rancho Coach Dick Shelko of this 16-year-old senior, who is 6 feet 5 and 285 pounds.
Ryan McEntire, Whittier Christian, lineman--This senior guard was the key blocker on the CIF champion Heralds. He was the Olympic League's lineman of the year and has a 3.95 grade-point average.
Ralph Galindo, Bell Gardens, lineman--He was positioned wherever the running attack was because he was such a great drive blocker. For a big man (250 pounds), he is very quick.
Larry Haney, California, quarterback--This junior, who completed 198 of 338 passes for 2,256 yards and 22 touchdowns, led the Condors to their first playoff appearance in 10 years. He was the Whitmont League's offensive back of the year.
Darnell Morgan, Norwalk, back--A sample of Morgan's stunning statistics: 1,482 yards gained, 9.75 yards a carry, 18 touchdowns, 14 pass catches. He also scored two 2-point conversions for a total of 112 points.
Ron Rector, Whittier Christian, back--On a champion team that averaged 45 points a game, the 5-10, 155-pound senior gained 1,349 yards on 162 attempts and scored 20 TDs.
Dave Trujillo, California, kicker--He made 26 of 33 extra points and seven of eight field goal attempts, including two that won overtime games.
Les Redewill, La Serna, lineman--"He was kind of the clown on the team who kept everybody loose, but he was one of our hardest workers," said Coach Wayne Manzo of his senior captain. Redewill had 51 tackles, three fumble recoveries and three sacks.
Tim Norton, St. Paul, lineman--He led the Swordsmen into the playoffs with 11 sacks and 30 tackles. "An excellent player and person," said Coach Miguel Olmedo of the Mission League's lineman of the year.
Demetrious Maxie, Downey, lineman--The San Gabriel Valley League's defensive player of the year had 69 tackles, four sacks and two fumble recoveries. A senior being recruited by Nevada Las Vegas, Maxie also made the all-league offensive team as a tackle.
Fernando Hernandez, Whittier, lineman--The Southeast lineman of the year, Hernandez would not come off the field until the final gun. He had a combination of speed, quickness, competitiveness and intelligence, said his coach, Mike Fitch. He was all-Whitmont League on defense and offense. He weighed 240 pounds as a junior but came into this season at 220.
Mike Overgaauw, Valley Christian, linebacker--A 6-2, 185-pound senior, he had 30 tackles, six sacks and three interceptions. As a tight end, he caught 20 passes, including one he turned into a 99-yard touchdown against Whittier Christian.