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PREP FOOTBALL '94 / CENTURY LEAGUE : Cherrington Sticks to Familiar Territory : Football: Santa Ana Valley's star running back is not going anywhere, despite all the rumors.

August 29, 1994|CHRIS FOSTER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SANTA ANA — Dwayne Cherrington, that blur of a running back, is taking his act on the road.

He's going to play at Foothill High School. The offensive linemen are big there and he'll gain thousands and thousands of yards behind them.

No wait.

He's going to Villa Park to fill the hole left by Grant Pearsall, now at USC. Cherrington will love that offense--pitch left, pitch right, blast up the middle.

No wait.

Dwayne's going to Mater Dei, even better. Where else would a wayward tailback end up?

No wait . . .

Well, a summer of rumors are over. Cherrington is at Santa Ana Valley, right where it all began.

"Everybody kept asking me, 'Are you going here? Are you going there?' " Cherrington said. "Some guys I knew wanted me to go to another school. The next thing I knew, I was transferring to every school. It started bugging me. I'm happy to be at Valley."

Think Falcon Coach Scott Orloff was happy to hear that?

Cherrington is one of the premier running backs in Orange County.

He gained 815 yards as a sophomore and that was with poor eyesight. Last season, wearing contact lenses, he gained 1,234 yards and scored 13 touchdowns. He had a 327-yard game against Dana Hills.

But one thing has eluded this elusive runner: the playoffs.

The Falcons were 3-6-1 in 1992 and 5-5 last season.

"I'm sure it has been frustrating for him," Orloff said. "I could see his confidence go down last year."

Then the rumors started.

"I heard them," Orloff said. "It was always, 'Dwayne is going here or there.' I don't know what was true. Kids talk to kids all the time."

The hot talk had Cherrington headed to Villa Park or Foothill, two Century League schools. Mater Dei was tossed in there, as well. The Monarchs have had tailbacks transfer there before.

No one seemed to believe Cherrington when he said he was staying put.

"It was a trip," Cherrington said. "I wasn't really thinking about going anywhere."

Which was good news to Orloff.

"Dwayne never indicated he was leaving," Orloff said. "He was here everyday, working out. I think he has a lot more confidence in our team."

A confident Cherrington is a dangerous Cherrington. Ask anyone from Dana Hills last season.

Cherrington romped through, around and over the Dolphins. When he was done, he had scored four touchdowns and had the ninth-best rushing game in county history.

But he was not a one-game wonder.

Cherrington first got attention as a sophomore, when he outperformed Pearsall, a three-year standout at Villa Park. Cherrington had 158 yards in a 21-21 tie.

He opened last season with a rush. He gained 126 against University in the opener, then 135 against Saddleback. By the fifth week of the season, he was second in the county in rushing.

"Dwayne is a natural tailback," Orloff said. "He's able to make moves without stopping. That's a God-given talent."

But he might trade it in for a playoff berth.

The Falcons haven't been to the playoffs since 1979. They got close last season.

After an 0-2 start in league, Santa Ana Valley won two of its last three games. Cherrington was a big reason for the turnaround. He had a 149-yard game in an 18-13 victory over Orange.

This season, the streak could end.

"We're young, but we have bigger numbers and everything seems to be coming together," Cherrington said. "I like this team."

And he's on it.

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