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 South Coast All-Star High School Football Team.
Paramount, which came within an eyelash of a third consecutive CIF Southern Section title, has five players on the all-star team, including back of the year Leon Neal and lineman of the year Mark Manu.
The Pirates, who lost last Saturday night to Capistrano Valley, 17-15, on a field goal with 16 seconds to play, finished 13-1. They also have the coach of the year, Ken Sutch, who has a 38-3 record the last three years.
Sutch, Neal and Manu 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-South Coast team, selected on the basis of a poll of coaches:
Joel Rosborough, Jordan, wide receiver--A repeater on the All-South Coast team, the 6-4 senior led the Long Beach area in touchdown pass receptions and averaged 22 yards per catch. Four of his TDs were more than 60 yards.
Carl Henderson, Paramount, wide receiver--Great speed enabled Henderson to average 28 yards on 10 catches, six of them for touchdowns during the regular season. He is a 23-foot long jumper.
Alphonso Bigelow, Paramount, tight end--He made the Pirate offense go with his great blocking. He also caught 12 regular-season passes, averaging 20 yards a reception, and scored six touchdowns.
Ryan Waters, Wilson, tackle--At 6-5 and 245 pounds, Waters is sought by UCLA and Stanford. He is a good drive blocker, protects the quarterback well and has a 3.7 grade-point average.
Kevin Butcher, Poly, tackle--A two-year starter, he used his 280 pounds to lead runners when they needed tough yardage.
Mike McCormick, Lakewood, center--A quick player off the ball with good blocking skills, McCormick also displayed the leadership that helped Lakewood make the playoffs.
Edward Hopkins, Poly, guard--"He's going to be a big-time player," said Thomas Whiting, Poly's co-head coach. Hopkins bench-presses 315 pounds, runs the 40-yard dash in 4.85 seconds and has a 3.0 grade-point average.
Lance Each, Lakewood, guard--Each showed great speed as a pulling guard and was an efficient blocker. Lakewood Coach Mark Rose expects Each to add bulk to his 6-4, 190-pound frame.
Johnny Nansen, Jordan, quarterback--A junior, he led the Moore League in passing with more than 900 yards, and also ran for 500 yards. "He is the dominant player in our league, possibly in the area," Jordan Coach Mike Ono said.
Leon Neal, Paramount, back--He easily won South Coast back of the year by rushing for more than 1,500 yards, averaging more than 9 yards a carry. He scored 16 touchdowns and averaged 14 yards each time he caught a pass.
Dione Tyler, Millikan, back--"He redefines the word quick," Millikan Coach Dave Radford said. Tyler, a junior, was the Moore League's only 1,000-yard rusher and averaged 10 yards a carry.
Mark Wassmuth, Lakewood, kicker--He made 21 of 22 extra-point attempts and his longest field goal was 42 yards.
Larry Satterlee, Millikan, lineman--A three-year starter, he has the instincts and technique his position demands. He was all-Moore League and all-Long Beach.
Fia Ili, Poly, lineman--The only sophomore on the all-star team, Ili was Poly's most consistent defensive lineman. He is quick, aggressive, a good pass rusher and a fast learner.
Fred Rogers, Dominguez, lineman--A three-year starter, Rogers utilized his quickness to lead the Dons in sacks with 16. "He dances to a different drummer," said Dominguez Coach Willie Donerson, who was amused by the way Rogers would go off by himself before a game, then rejoin his teammates and become a leader.
Mark Manu, Paramount, lineman--A 6-2, 200-pound senior with great quickness, Manu was all-San Gabriel Valley League as an offensive guard and a defensive tackle, and the South Coast lineman of the year.
Frank Russell, Wilson, linebacker--A junior, he led the Bruins with 87 assisted tackles and 37 unassisted tackles and was the co-most valuable defensive player in the Moore League. He also rushed for 830 yards.
Curtis Moss, Millikan, linebacker--It was not advisable to run on Moss, the Millikan captain who, at 5-11 and 180 pounds, is the Moore League weightlifting champion. A two-year starter, he was the Rams' top defensive player.
Ross Pearson, Jordan, linebacker--A 6-3, 210-pound senior, Pearson led the Panthers with 12 sacks from his outside linebacking position, and was also one of their leading tacklers.
Dana Belman, Lakewood, linebacker--The Moore League's defensive player of the year, the quick, aggressive Belman led Lakewood in tackles.
Reggie King, Jordan, back--A 6-1, 215-pound senior, he led the Panthers in tackles and also had four interceptions.