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HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREVIEW | What's Happening: Snapshots
of what's going on as teams prepare for their openers
this week.

WHAT'S IN / Little Brother

September 09, 1997

Taking over for a name quarterback is pressure enough, but consider the burden on Newbury Park junior Nick Czernek.

He has the same name as the last guy, someone who happened to pass for more than 4,000 yards in two consecutive seasons, the first quarterback in the nation to do so.

The record-setter, of course, was Chris Czernek, and one of his receivers was his brother, Nick, a wideout who made 30 catches as a sophomore. Now Nick is taking the snaps, and after an impressive summer he is expected to approach the numbers achieved by Chris and his predecessor, Keith Smith.

"Nick is a student of the game," Newbury Park Coach George Hurley said. "Like his brother, he has a lot of the same positive traits. He will stay on the practice field as long as someone will stay and catch his passes."

At 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds, Nick is more impressive physically than the 5-11, 170-pound Chris.

"Nick has a stronger arm than Chris but he won't be allowed to use it early on," Hurley said. "We won't get as complicated as we did with Chris. But wait until Nick is done before making comparisons. He'll measure up well."

WHAT'S OUT / Homework

The Monroe High football team may not be dominant, but the Vikings should certainly be the most well-rested.

Nearly 75% of the players can sleep until noon because they are "off-track" students at a year-round school who recently began a two-month vacation.

Monroe is one of three year-round City Section schools in the Valley that has adopted the year-round schedule to accommodate the overwhelming number of students attending the school.

With enrollment pushing 3,800 students, Monroe students are divided into three tracks: A, B and C. Most football players are on B track and will return to classes in November, Principal Joan Elam said.

Monroe is in its second year of year-round scheduling and among the newest to join the growing trend. Seventeen of the 49 high schools in the City Section are year-round, a significant increase from the 1980-81 school year, when year-round schedules were introduced at four high schools.

Poly and San Fernando also are on year-round schedules.

Close to 50% of the 53 football players at Poly are off-track, which makes it difficult to call a lunchtime team meeting, Coach Lee Jackson said.

About 15 of the 40 San Fernando football players are off-track, according to Barbara Garry, assistant principal. Coach Sean Blunt will be off-track as a teacher in late October.

For the most part, however, year-round schedules pose few problems for football players and coaches. More problems occur during basketball season.

In year-round schools, more than one-third of the students are not excused until Dec. 23 or 24 for winter break. Basketball players who are on-track have to get special permission to miss classes and take final exams at different times in order to play in holiday tournaments.

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