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Luna Carries on Without Friends

November 08, 1996|MICHAEL LAZARUS

SAN FERNANDO — Alex Luna was supposed to have plenty of help on defense for San Fernando High this year. That is, until the Tigers' two best defensive players, fellow linebackers Derrell Daniels and Shaun Holiday, transferred to other schools.

Daniels transferred to Sylmar under open enrollment. Shortly after the fall semester began, Holiday left for Kennedy under district transfer.

That left Luna as the primary line of defense for the Tigers.

The 6-foot-1, 215-pound senior has done what he can, leading San Fernando in tackles nearly every week and intercepting two passes. But dominated by inexperienced players, the Tigers have struggled.

Heading into tonight's game against Chatsworth, San Fernando is 3-5 and probably needs a victory over the Chancellors to avoid missing the playoffs for the second consecutive season.

"It's been tough," Luna said. "Half the guys are trying hard, but the other half are looking to give up and wait for next year. I don't have time to wait."

Luna and his teammates wanted redemption for the 1995 season. San Fernando lost only three games on the field, but forfeited five victories for using two academically ineligible players. The forfeits left the Tigers 2-8 and out of the City Section 4-A Division playoffs.

San Fernando opened the 1996 season with a 35-29 victory over Jefferson, but hit a nadir two weeks later in a 21-8 loss to Grant. It was the first victory for the Lancers since 1994.

The result prompted Daniels to call Luna.

"When Sylmar started winning, Derrell told me I should have come over and transferred with him," Luna said. "But I told him I was happy here."

The Tigers are still struggling, having beaten only Cleveland and Granada Hills in Northwest Valley Conference play. But the future looks promising.

San Fernando gave Taft, the top-ranked team in the region, one of its toughest games before losing, 28-18. It might have been closer had Luna's moment of glory held up.

Late in the first half, Luna, playing on the offensive line, rumbled 62 yards on a fumblerooski to the Taft one-yard line. But the run was called back because San Fernando failed to inform the officials it planned to run the trick play.

"It's pretty typical of the way our season has gone," Luna said.

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