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PREP FOOTBALL '95: GARDEN GROVE LEAGUE : Vaqueros' Kosi Keeps Foes Running Scared : Football: With his work ethic and style, Rancho Alamitos back has the potential to rush for 2,000 yards this season.

August 31, 1995|DAVE McKIBBEN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

GARDEN GROVE — Los Amigos Coach Roger Takahashi hadn't even begun to talk about Rancho Alamitos, his biggest rival in the Garden Grove League, before he started thinking about his worst nightmare--watching Vaquero running back Leo Kosi destroy his team.

"Oh my God, Kosi," Takahashi said. "He's incredible. He's just awesome. I'll never forget what he did to us last year. I was on the sideline, right in front of the play, when I saw three of our best athletes give him a shot. He just shook them off like they were nothing and went on down the sideline and into the end zone.

"He scared the living daylights out of me. He's so strong and he has such great balance. He's so low to the ground and he has great speed."

Rancho Alamitos Coach Doug Case is well aware of what he has for two more seasons. In fact, after the Vaqueros' first-round loss to Pomona Ganesha in the Southern Section Division VII playoffs, a half-kidding Case said, "You might see Kosi carry the ball 40 times a game next year."

Remembering he has a pretty fair senior quarterback in John Frank, Case has amended those remarks somewhat. But he still believes Kosi is capable of a 2,000-yard season this year.

And why not? As a sophomore last season, Kosi averaged more than 10 yards every time he touched the ball. In just 70 carries, he amassed 771 yards and scored eight touchdowns.

The first two times Kosi touched the ball, he scored on 55-yard jaunts. "That was a real surprise," said an almost embarrassed Kosi. "I guess I was just running scared."

Already, Kosi is in the record books. His 10-yard average is a Rancho Alamitos season record and his 771 yards are 17th on the career rushing list.

"He's got a great opportunity to find his niche out there," Case said.

What does Kosi think of all the expectations? "A lot of people are counting on me to do some things," he said. "I just hope I don't let them down."

With Kosi's running style and work ethic, Case doesn't figure that will happen. Case said Kosi is first in and last out of the weight room.

"I have to kick him out most days," Case said.

The weight training work has translated into solid muscle. Kosi, 5 feet 9, is a solid 175 pounds. He bench presses 300 pounds and power-clean lifts 235 pounds. Case said Kosi is easily the strongest player on the team for his size.

Now it's easy to see why Takahashi is so terrified of Kosi, who runs the 100- and 200-meter dashes, and is a long jumper and triple jumper.

"He'll run through the middle and it doesn't look like there's anything there," Case said. "Then all of a sudden, he's around the corner."

In many ways, Case said Kosi reminds him of former Rancho Alamitos running back Jeff Byrd, who's now at Stanford and still holds the single-season rushing record in Orange County at 2,596 yards.

"Jeff was extremely darty like Leo and they both read the blocks well," Case said. "But Leo's bigger than Jeff and probably faster. Leo enjoys the game. He's out there having fun and he reminds me a lot of Jeff in that way."

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