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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Back Ache

Ailing White a Pain to Defenses

July 11, 1998|PAIGE A. LEECH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

VALLEY GLEN — A Crenshaw High defender considered the size of the lone player in the Valencia backfield and made an easy assumption.

"Watch the fullback," he shouted to his teammate.

At 6 feet 3, 218 pounds and the biggest player on the field, Manuel White of Valencia could just as soon be mistaken for a lineman.

"If we put him on the line, they'd probably say, 'Watch the offensive tackle,' " Valencia Coach Brian Stiman cracked.

White, a talented tailback who burst onto the scene as a sophomore last year, was neither Friday in the Monarch passing tournament at Valley College.

Because of a pulled groin muscle suffered three weeks ago, he was simply a decoy. Although he set up in the backfield for more than 90% of Valencia's offense Friday, he never touched the ball--by design.

"He just stands in the backfield," Stiman said. "Whether I win or lose a passing league game doesn't matter to me. He's not going to get [the ball.]"

With White essentially a lame duck, Valencia defeated Crenshaw, 3-1, and Chatsworth, 5-3, but lost to Franklin, 4-3, in overtime. It was only the second loss for Valencia this summer. The Vikings lost to Hart in the Hart tournament championship game last month.

With a healthy White in the backfield, Valencia, which earned its first playoff berth last season, promises to win often in the fall.

White, who rushed for 2,189 yards and 20 touchdowns last season, has added about 15 pounds and critics say he might grow out of his position and have to move to tight end.

"The only ones who think he's not [a running back] are the ones who don't want him to be back there," Stiman said.

There are no plans to move White.

Stiman estimates White could play his senior season as heavy as 225 pounds and be a dominating force because the weight is well distributed.

"He's toned down," Stiman said. "He's a lot leaner, more defined, has more muscle."

White's speed also has improved, Stiman said. He has trimmed more than a tenth of second off his 40-yard time to 4.6 seconds.

If White can put two more seasons together like the one he had last year, he is poised to join the region's 6,000-yard club, which includes George Keiaho of Buena with 6,615 yards and Justin Fargas of Notre Dame with 6,293.

White isn't interested in inflated statistics.

"I don't think about that stuff," said White, who celebrated his 16th birthday last week. "I just want to do what I have to do to help the team."

Stiman said White is the consummate team player.

"He would much rather gain 1,000 yards and win a [league] championship than rush for 2,000 yards and get beat in the first round of playoffs," Stiman said.

*

The tournament concludes today with 58 games. Bracket play begins at 8 a.m. at Valley College with the championship game at 5 p.m.

Eight of the 40 teams in the tournament went undefeated in three games Friday: Alemany, Hueneme, Franklin, Venice, Loyola, Tokay of Lodi, Hart and Calabasas.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

White Watch

A game-by-game look at how Manuel White fared last season

*--*

Opponent Att. Yds. Avg. TD Highland 24 251 10.5 2 Silverado 14 211 15.1 3 Serra 23 150 6.5 1 Chaminade 18 71 3.9 0 Quartz Hill 27 234 8.7 2 Burbank 19 138 7.3 2 Hart 25 215 8.6 2 Burroughs 35 284 8.1 5 Saugus 21 148 7.0 3 Canyon 39 300 7.7 2 Antelope Valley 34 187 5.5 1 Totals 271 2189 7.8 23

*--*

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