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Crawford Is Taking Life in Stride

Orange Lutheran receiver is back to add to his impressive collection of statistics.


ORANGE — The first time Mike Crawford took steps in this world, he didn't walk, he ran.

His mother, Cory Kunau, and some of her friends were waiting to be seated at a restaurant. Mike, 7 months old at the time, was standing with the aid of one of Cory's friends.

Cory walked ahead to speak to the maitre d', but turned around after her friend called out to her.

She saw Mike running toward her.

"That was the very first time and he never stopped," she said.

These days, Crawford is tearing up the passing lanes at Orange Lutheran High.

Crawford, a senior, set three school single-season records last season with 42 receptions, 856 yards and nine touchdown catches. He is the school's all-time leader with 1,387 receiving yards and 73 catches in his career and has helped the Lancers to two consecutive appearances in the Southern Section Division X final.

And consider this: Crawford barely even played organized football until he was a sophomore.

Last year, Crawford broke his collarbone in a late-season Olympic League game against Cerritos Valley Christian. The game was for the league title and Orange Lutheran lost, 36-31.

In the playoffs, the Lancers advanced to the final, where they were scheduled to play Rosamond. But Rosamond coaches were found guilty of altering a videotape that was given to Orange Lutheran as part of an exchange and the Roadrunners were bounced from the playoffs.

Orange Lutheran got an extra week of practice to prepare for its replacement opponent, Cerritos Valley Christian. Crawford had been out of the playoffs because of the injury but the extra week gave him the healing time he needed. He played in the final, but the Crusaders won, 21-17, on a touchdown in the final seconds.

Crawford played flag football in middle school but never played the sport in full gear until he was a freshman, when he broke his thumb early in the season holding the ball for an errant kicker.

When Orange Lutheran Coach Jim Kunau, who recently married Cory, wanted to move Crawford to varsity the next season, Crawford objected. Crawford had watched some of the junior varsity players get pulled up for varsity practice.

"It seemed like they would always be injured," he said. "I kept saying, 'I'm not going to play varsity.' Because I was scared to death."

After one practice, Crawford's fears were assuaged.

"It was a new experience for me," he said. "After that, though, I wasn't terrified anymore."

But Cory was. In order to convince her to let Michael play, Kunau assured her that Michael would only run routes up the sidelines so he wouldn't get injured.

"Now I know that it was just an emotional preparation," she said with a laugh.

Cory was in tears before her son's first game because she was so scared, but they dissolved after the kickoff.

"Then I was screaming to put him in the game," she said.

Cory and Mike are very close.

"She has been to everything," Crawford said.

Cory used to take Mike to a nearby track when he was a child and put him on a blanket in the middle of the infield while she ran.

"He has always been my best friend," she said.

Mike's father, Orlando Ramirez, played for the Angels from 1974 to 1977 and in '79. The couple divorced when Crawford was 1 year old and he said he hasn't seen his dad since.

Crawford played baseball for 10 years but gave it up in high school for track.

He is, after all, a natural runner.

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