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Woods Enjoys Life on Center Stage

Pacifica lineman not afraid to have his say, and teammates believe his outspoken quality has made them a winner.


GARDEN GROVE — Captains have not been named for Pacifica's football team, but there is little doubt center Ryan Woods will be one of the offensive captains.

After all, everything that happens positively or negatively on the football field starts with Woods, a beefy 6-foot-1, 250-pounder who has put on 30 pounds since last season.

Woods is the guy who's first in and last out of the weight room, first to practice, first to get on a teammate for making a mistake, first to admit he talks too much and first to start the offense.

Bill Craven, who has spent 21 years as Pacifica's head coach, said he hasn't many players like Woods.

"He's a first-class kid," Craven said. "He's hard-working, never misses a day. He's one of the most dependable kids we've had and one of the most vocal ones. He'll get upset when things go wrong."

But Craven said he usually understands Woods' tirades.

"He's got a lot invested in this," Craven said. "He doesn't like it when things go wrong."

J.D. Stern, Pacifica's quarterback and one of Woods' best friends, is often the first to hear Woods' wrath.

"He helps me a lot to keep me on the right line," said Stern, a first-team All-Garden Grove League selection who passed for more than 1,800 yards and threw 14 touchdown passes last year. "But I'll give it right back to him too. And he can take it as well as give it. But it's all forgotten once we're off the field. I know he just wants to win. He doesn't take losing very well."

Woods, an All-Garden Grove League center last year, said he wouldn't be himself if he wasn't vocal.

"I like to be the leader on the field," he said. "It makes me stay in the game a little better."

Now and then Woods gets a little carried away. "Sometimes I need to shut up," he said.

But Craven said Woods' emotional appeals to his teammates are often what they need. And Craven said Woods is never viewed as just another loudmouth.

"They know he's serious," Craven said. "It's not all talk. He displays it with his effort."

Last year Woods' and his teammates' efforts resulted in a Garden Grove League championship for Pacifica, which didn't even qualify for the playoffs in 1994. The Mariners have 13 starters back and are picked by most Garden Grove League coaches to repeat.

But Woods, who moved to center from guard after his sophomore season, said he isn't about to get overconfident.

"It's always harder the second time," he said. "Everyone knows who you are. You can't surprise people anymore."

Pacifica surprised most everyone last season with its passing attack. Normally a running team, like most in the Garden Grove League, Pacifica littered the air with footballs last year.

Woods said he's not sure what opponents should expect this year.

"Whatever works," he said.

What Woods worked on this summer was putting on weight. He realized Division I college coaches wouldn't even look at a center who stood 6-1 and weighed 220 pounds. He's not even sure they'll look at one who's 6-1, 250.

"I'd really like to play college football, but I don't know if it's realistic," he said.

Stern would also like to play college football, but he's also a bit undersized at 6-1, 160.

So he spent part of his summer in the weight room with Woods.

"Every day he's calling me, 'Lets go to the weight room,' " Stern said. "I know he wants to play at the next level pretty bad."

Stern realizes his future depends on how well he and Stern get the offense up and down the field this fall.

"No college is going to look at a center unless the team does well," Woods said.

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