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VALLEY/VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | THE LOS ANGELES TIMES
1997 / ALL-COUNTY FOOTBALL TEAM : LINEMAN OF THE YEAR

Crain: One Mission Down, One Left

January 07, 1998|STEVE HENSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

NEWBURY PARK — A player on a mission for Newbury Park High the past three years, Brian Crain becomes a man on a mission for the Church of Latter Day Saints beginning this fall.

Crain, a rangy linebacker/guard with a strong affinity for contact, spent three varsity seasons, as he puts it, "knocking heads."

"Hitting people, that's the main thing in football," he said. "You can do what you want within limits of the refs. You can release a lot of aggression out there."

Now Crain must try to turn heads with a message of brotherhood and love.

"I'm looking forward to it," he said. "It's something my brothers and sisters did and I've always known it was in store for me."

Crain, The Times' Ventura County lineman of the year, has matured greatly since he started at linebacker as a sophomore on a Newbury Park team that went 13-1.

He gradually became more confident and more vocal, and this season practices often were punctuated by a whooping Crain.

"I totally improved this year," he said. "I focused on working out harder and focused on having more fun. I didn't want practice to be boring. I wanted to have a good attitude with it and getting louder was part of that."

Newbury Park was unbeaten in 10 regular-season games, but fell in the first round of the Southern Section Division III playoffs to eventual champion Arroyo Grande. The Panthers' record in Crain's three seasons was 32-5.

Winning was expected. Crain grew up watching his brothers play for the Panthers, and Eric, brother closest to Brian in age, played guard and linebacker on Newbury Park's 14-0 team in 1992.

"I wanted to be part of it, the winning, and all the fun I saw my brothers have," Crain said. "I got the spirit of my brothers in me."

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