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Top Coaches, Lineman and Back Honored


Fairfax Co-Coaches Ron Price and Earl Smith, their quarterback, Rahim Muhammad, and Westchester lineman Wes Smith won the top Westside honors at the annual Times high school football awards breakfast.

Price and Earl Smith were named the area's Coaches of the Year, Muhammad Back of the Year and Wes Smith Lineman of the Year.

Carson quarterback John Walsh received the fourth annual Glenn Davis Award, given to the top high school football player in Southern California.

Walsh passed for a Los Angeles City and state single-season record of 4,206 yards and 48 touchdowns. He led Carson to the City 4-A Division championship.

The invitational event, sponsored by the Los Angeles Times Fund, brought together top award winners from 12 Times circulation areas: Westside, Central, Inland Empire (Riverside and San Bernardino counties), Orange County, San Gabriel Valley, Southeast, South Coast, Glendale, South Bay, San Fernando Valley, San Diego County and Ventura County.

Fairfax (11-1) had nine consecutive regular-season victories without a loss and was the top-seeded team in the Los Angeles City 3-A playoffs. The Lions won two playoff games and were upset in the semifinals by eventual 3-A champion Los Angeles Polytechnic, 35-28.

Price and Earl Smith were co-coaches for eight years at Crenshaw, where their teams had a 47-32 record and won two league championships. In 1982, the Cougars lost to Carson, 34-27, in the 4-A City final. In 1984, Price and Smith's last season at Crenshaw, the Cougars upset Banning, 26-21, in the semifinals, ending the Pilots' streak of nine consecutive appearances in the 4-A title game.

Their three-year record at Fairfax is 21-10. This year's Lions were not expected to be dominant because the team lacked depth. Smith and Price had nine two-way players on a 29-man roster.

Muhammad, who also was a top defensive back, was the force that drove the Lions. Price called him "this year's version of Venice's Louis Jones," the quarterback who was named The Times' 1989 Westside Back of the Year. "There is nothing on the field that (Muhammad) can't do," Price added.

The Fairfax quarterback was the Coastal Conference and Metro League Player of the Year. As a runner through 11 games, he had 106 carries for 842 yards and 11 touchdowns. As a passer during that same span, he completed 78 of 134 passes (58.2%) for 1,146 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Wes Smith, a two-way lineman and special teams player, and his Westchester teammate, running back Charles Grissam, were chosen Western League Players of the Year. Smith was his team's leading tackler with 31 solos and 84 assists and also topped the Comets with 13 1/2 sacks.

He had a 3.5 grade-point average and was awarded a letterman's jacket as the Westchester football team's highest academic achiever.

Besides Muhammad and Grissam, The Times' All-Westside first team on offense includes wide receivers Darren Smith and David Saraf, both of Beverly Hills; tight end De-Milo Bynum of Fairfax and linemen Manny Nieto of St. Monica, Brin Morimoto of Venice, Chris Ziegler of Santa Monica and Avetis Avetisyan of Hollywood.

Also chosen at quarterback was Ziv Gottlieb of Beverly Hills, and the other running back besides Grissam is Mario Mattison of Fairfax. The kicker is Culver City punter Rick Heineman, who also played tight end and linebacker.

The first-team defense besides Wes Smith includes linemen Eric Gronemeyer of Brentwood, Mark Hochberg of Culver City and Eduardo Payan of Fairfax. The linebackers are Cosie Bridwell of Westchester, Mark Walker of Venice and Lee Brothers of Fairfax.

In the first-team defensive backfield are Keith Walk-Green of St. Monica, Tharen Todd of Fairfax, Jesse Elkins of Hollywood and Jim Ramming of Santa Monica.

The second team on offense has wide receivers Moriba Camara of Hollywood and Chris Johnston of Culver City, tight end Albert Jones of Westchester and linemen Glenn Vargas of Fairfax, Ernesto Carillo of St. Monica, Nigel Edwards of Venice and Arash Feydzjou of Beverly Hills.

The second-team quarterbacks are Dion Bergeron of St. Monica and Larry Elmer of University, and the running backs are Greg Holmes of Beverly Hills and Nail Benjamin of St. Monica. The kicker is Venice punter Dan Pena, also a defensive end and receiver.

On defense, the second-team linemen are Brandon Bilderrain of Santa Monica, Ryan Watson of Fairfax, Delroy Bernard of Westchester and Bryan Lockridge of Palisades. The linebackers are David Shin of Daniel Murphy, Robert Hughes of University and Chris Wade of Culver City.

Defensive backs are Tim Kusserow of Santa Monica, Charles Gillum of Fairfax, Alvin Cooley of Venice and Matt Stringfellow of Brentwood.

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