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Locklin Hopes to Lift Oilers to New Heights

Huntington Beach running back and competitive weightlifter is a hard player to bring down.


HUNTINGTON BEACH — On the football field he's no blur, but a boulder rolling down a steep grade. Tackling him is not a solo chore; bring help, lots of it.

Huntington Beach High's Jason Locklin is one of the county's stronger running backs. When not plowing through defenses, the 17-year-old senior throws around barbells like they are nickels.

Last year Locklin won the 16-and-under division of the American Weightlifting Assn., lifting 286 pounds in the clean-and-jerk, and 200 in the snatch. On Aug. 11, Locklin placed second in the California State Games, lifting in the 91-kilo weight class. He hoisted 275 pounds in the clean-and-jerk, and a personal-best 215 pounds in the snatch.

The lifts qualified him for the U.S. Junior National championship next spring in Flagstaff, Ariz.

Stephanie Ciarelli, the Huntington Beach strength coach, brought an Olympic-style weight program to the school three years ago.

"Football and weights go hand in hand," Ciarelli said. "You try to get the team strong for football, then the weightlifting meets are icing. They can see results of work.

"Jason is a strong, quick kid. His class is the one I started with. The lifts are so technical and take a long time to learn. But Jason and the seniors were sponges and took hold of it."

"Her program makes you quicker," Locklin said. "But this is probably the strongest I've ever been."

He'll need the power, since Locklin is expected to carry the Oilers' playoff aspirations with him this season.

In 1995 Locklin emerged big time, rushing for 1,100 yards (in 202 carries) and 12 touchdowns for a team that finished 3-7, 1-4 in the Sunset League. He was the kind of runner who got stronger as the game went on, using legs that regularly squat 400 or more pounds to punish tacklers in the first half, then break out of grasps in the second half.

"After my sophomore year, I decided to make something out of football," Locklin said. "My freshman and sophomore years I did all right; I was just playing and having fun. Between my sophomore and junior year I started getting serious, thinking about my future."

There should be a football future after high school. Locklin, who was first-team all-league, has several shoe boxes full of mail from small and mid-size colleges. (He says he is interested in the University of Nevada, San Diego State and Oregon, among others.)

There was, however, a moment or two this spring and summer that Locklin thought there might not be a football future at Huntington Beach, after the forced resignation of Coach George Pascoe.

Baseball Coach Mike Dodd, who served as Pascoe's defensive coordinator, will take over this season. After the season he will have to choose between football and baseball.

"Our players really respected [Pascoe]," Locklin said. "I liked him as a coach. He helped a lot of us get in college. A lot of the players were really down and didn't know what to do.

"At one time I was thinking about not playing. I was ticked off he was gone. But it's a challenge to deal with adversity. It shows you what you're made of. It's going to be fun this year whether we win or lose. All the guys on the team are friends; we all hang out together."

Locklin says the Oilers will put out for Coach Dodd. "The players do respect him," he said. And Dodd plans get as much out of Locklin as he can without wearing him out.

Locklin said he is eager to be a team leader this season. "I like being a leader. I think I've earned it," Locklin said. "I wanted to be one last year, but it was those seniors' turn."

And if anyone wants to give Locklin any lip, he can just take them to the weight room.

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