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BETWEEN THE LINES | HIGH SCHOOLS

Low Numbers Keep Guards All Together

September 10, 1997

Once again, second-year Bell-Jeff football Coach Ken Berry has fewer than 20 players, and as with any outnumbered group, the Guards tend to stick together.

Whereas more populous teams usually break off to practice by position during a workout, Bell-Jeff's 17 players do virtually everything en masse. But even then, a full-bodied scrimmage is impossible.

"Our guys have to learn two and three positions, so it's hard to get into the finer details of playing each of them," said Berry, who guided Bell-Jeff to a 2-8 record last year in his first season at the school.

The Guards, who open the season Friday against Calabasas, usually run half-line drills or get full-line work in against several bodies and an array of tackling bags. Suffering most are back-side defenders, who don't learn until games exactly how to contain a bootleg or take a proper pursuit angle.

"Once we get a couple of games in, we catch up to everyone else," said Berry, whose team won two of its final three games last season. "It's difficult demonstrating things against air."

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Mid-season form: The way second-year Chaminade football Coach Tim Johnson sees it, his Eagles are in the 34th week of their 1997 season, not the first.

Johnson, who has coached at the collegiate and European professional levels, made the Eagles' off-season football class just that by filling the periods with chalk talks, mental exercises and tests.

"We're not real gifted physically but we're smart," said Johnson, whose team is making the switch from a power-pitch attack to the veer option. "We had a 200-point midterm; you have to demonstrate you know what's going on before I put you out on the field."

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Double duty: Johnson said that while senior Ray Rodriguez remains the unquestioned starting quarterback, classmate Justin Stewart will move from receiver to quarterback in some situations.

A more explosive athlete, Stewart has been taught to run a limited number of option plays and will be asked to make few decisions other than finding an opening for himself or a trailing running back.

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