SOUTHEAST AREA — The forward pass was a passing fancy and the ground game was king, as Southeast area prep football teams relied on an old concept this season.
With big, beefy linemen opening gaping holes, scatbacks chewed up large chunks of the gridiron with slashing moves, dashing styles and fancy feet.
Leagues such as the Almont and Del Rio reveled in smash-face football. Even quarterbacks took off running much of the time.
The Times' Southeast All-Star High School Football Team clearly reflects that trend.
Whittier quarterback Bryan LaVigne, for example, ran for touchdowns of 16 and four yards Friday in a 24-12 victory over Western High of Anaheim. The effort propelled the Cardinals into the CIF Southern Section Division VI championship game at 7:30 p.m. Saturday against Savanna High of Anaheim at Glover Stadium in Anaheim.
Santa Fe running back Willie Kaholokula, behind the powerful blocking of center Jim Hope and guard Brent Richardson, gained more than 1,300 yards and helped the Chiefs earn a share of the Del Rio League title. Montebello tight end Guillermo Chavez made just 14 catches but was a dominant blocker in the Almont League, where the Oilers split the title with Schurr and Bell Gardens.
Ten schools are represented on the first team. Del Rio co-champions Whittier and Santa Fe led the way with four selections each and Suburban League titlist La Mirada netted three.
The team members will be honored at a breakfast at 9 a.m. Sunday at the Sheraton Long Beach. Awards for the best lineman and back will be announced at the breakfast, as will the coach of the year.
The All-Southeast team, selected through a poll of coaches:
Victor Zapata, Whittier, wide receiver--A two-way starter and his team's free spirit, he was voted to the All-Del Rio League first team as a wide receiver and defensive back. Zapata was extremely quick, and when the Cardinals had to pass, he was a major target.
Guillermo Chavez, Montebello, tight end--The two-time All-Almont League selection could block with the big boys, and sometimes played offensive line. "He is one of the best blockers I have ever had," Coach Doug Rihn said. Chavez kicked 38 points after touchdown, a field goal and caught three passes for touchdowns.
James Sherman, Whittier, lineman--Another two-way starter for the Cardinals, he was voted to the all-league team as a tackle on both sides of the line. "We ran behind him on every crucial play," Coach Mike Fitch said. Sherman bench presses 371 pounds.
Jim Hope, Santa Fe, lineman--Picked to the team for the second consecutive season, the burly center led the way for running back Willie Kaholokula with a blocking percentage of almost 90%. He was one of his team's captains.
Brent Richardson, Santa Fe, lineman--His 86% effectiveness against opponents proves that he is "an excellent trap blocker," according to Coach Jack Mahlstede. He shared captain duties.
Jose Murillo, Schurr, lineman--A two-way starter, he was chosen to the All-Almont League as a tackle on both sides of the ball. Murillo was one of the most consistent players in the league. In three seasons on the varsity, he started 35 consecutive games.
Ken Watts, La Mirada, lineman--The two-way starter at tackle was a key blocker for Matador running backs, who scampered all over the Suburban League. Defensively, he had five quarterback sacks and more than 60 solo tackles.
Jarvis Watson, Warren, running back--Another repeater on the all-star team, he rushed for 782 yards and was an all-San Gabriel Valley League selection from his fullback position. He helped Warren, which finished fourth in the league, earn an at-large berth in the Southern Section Division II playoffs.
Willie Kaholokula, Santa Fe, running back--Although recognized mostly for his offensive exploits, he was, according to Coach Mahlstede, "the best linebacker I have coached in 25 years." Kaholokula had a willing attitude and the desire to win. He led the Chiefs to a share of the Del Rio League title.
Rich Avina, St. Paul, running back--"His contributions to our team were top of the line," Coach Marijon Ancich said. Avina blocked three field goals on special teams and scored 11 touchdowns rushing during the regular season. He also played defensive back, where he made 51 solo tackles and intercepted two passes.
Bryan LaVigne, Whittier, quarterback--At 6-foot-5, he was not afraid to scramble after peering over the opposing defensive fronts. He was a three-year starter and a two-time all-league choice. He enters the CIF championship game Saturday night having passed for more than 1,400 yards, while scoring seven rushing touchdowns.
Phil Torres, Santa Fe, kicker--There is a big future ahead of Torres, since he is only a sophomore. He was one of the most accurate kickers in the Southeast area. Torres made 24 of 25 points after touchdown and seven of nine field goal attempts.