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Difficult to Keep Southwell Down

November 08, 1996|STEVE HENSON

THOUSAND OAKS — In last year's regular-season finale, Jud Southwell appeared finished. The only two-way starter on Thousand Oaks High's football team lay flat on his back until he was placed on a stretcher and whisked to the hospital in an ambulance.

Was his neck broken? His spine damaged?

It turned out to be a bruised bone in his lower back, and Southwell was back in action the next week and throughout the playoffs.

"Unbelievably, yes, I played," Southwell said.

So it was no surprise that after spending much of last week on crutches with two sprained ankles, Southwell was in his familiar role Friday against Agoura, anchoring the Lancer defense at middle linebacker and providing an occasional offensive lift.

Thousand Oaks (7-0-1) has the Marmonte League's top-rated defense in large part because of Southwell's talent and toughness. An outside linebacker and slotback last year, he put on 12 pounds of muscle during the off-season, enabling him to move to middle linebacker and fullback.

Southwell (6 feet 1, 205 pounds) has 98 tackles despite missing the second half of a game two weeks ago against Simi Valley, when the ankle injuries occurred and he again found himself in the hospital.

"It was very painful," he said. "I couldn't even walk."

But by Friday he could run. Southwell ran 20 yards for a touchdown on his only carry against Agoura.

Two weeks earlier in a 25-21 victory over Westlake, he had a 16-yard run on third-and-six late in the game.

"Jud is one of those guys you can rely on when it counts," said Scott McEwan, the Thousand Oaks quarterback.

In a nonleague game, Thousand Oaks overcame a 35-14 deficit with seven minutes to play to defeat Hart, 36-35. The rally started when Southwell scooped up a fumble and ran 40 yards for a score.

"Jud is one of those guys who just loves the game of football," Lancer Coach Mike Kelly said.

So much so that he is willing to attend a junior college to continue playing. Southwell, a Mormon, dreamed of playing at Brigham Young, but after talking to friends Brock and Brant Diediker--6-3, 230-pound linebackers who went from Newbury Park High to BYU this year--he is reconsidering.

"They are redshirting because they said they aren't big enough to play linebacker yet," he said. "That was my turning point."

Southwell is living large at Thousand Oaks, a school with a history of outstanding middle linebackers.

"T.O. has had very good linebackers in the past," he said. "I'm trying to fulfill that."

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