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Hart Road Ahead : McElvaine and Highland High Will Attack Indians on the Ground Tonight


PALMDALE — There have been plenty of signs that Brandon McElvaine of Highland High was on his way to becoming one of the region's best running backs.

There was the time he returned two kickoffs for touchdowns in a game as a freshman.

Or his sophomore season, when as a supporting character in a pass-oriented offense, he rushed for 822 yards and six touchdowns to help the Bulldogs advance to the Southern Section Division II semifinals.

Of course, there's his ongoing, good-natured boasts to teammates that he possesses superhuman powers.

"We had thunder and lightning in the sky during practice one day," running back Kevin Morris said. "[McElvaine] said he caused it, that we got him mad."

Despite a senior season in which McElvaine has rushed for 1,144 yards and 10 touchdowns, the 6-foot-1, 205-pound tailback has gone virtually unrecognized in the region, concealed by the haze of his team's 3-7 record and fourth-place finish in the Golden League.

"I definitely had higher expectations,"

McElvaine said. "I figured we'd take league this year. Things don't always come out the way you want, but if you love the game, you play it because it's fun and you just continue to play your hardest."

Highland opens the Division III playoffs tonight against top-seeded Hart (8-2) at 7:30 at College of the Canyons.

Hart has the state's No. 1 quarterback, the region's best offense and a streak of nine consecutive opening-round victories dating to 1989.

It might indeed take a superhuman performance to topple the Indians.

"It's been a disappointing year for us in some ways, but if we can beat Hart, that would overshadow a lot," McElvaine said.

It's no secret Highland will try to accomplish that feat on the ground, and usually with McElvaine. The Bulldogs have passed for less than 500 yards this season.

"We're certainly not going to try to out-Hart Hart," Coach Lin Parker said of matching the Indians' aerial show.

If there's a glimmer of hope for Highland, it's that McElvaine has been at his best the last five weeks, and that if Hart has anything that could be considered a weakness, it's rushing defense.

The Indians yielded 244 rushing yards last week against Canyon and have allowed five opposing ballcarriers to gain more than 100 yards in a game.

McElvaine rushed for more than 100 yards in each of five Golden League games.

In the last three weeks, he ran for 497 yards and eight touchdowns to help the Bulldogs win two games and rally to claim a postseason berth.

He rushed for a school-record five touchdowns against Quartz Hill and 209 yards against Antelope Valley.

"He's been great," fullback Edwin Reed said. "He has a way of just coming and coming at you, never stopping."

College recruiters are beginning to notice.

McElvaine, who has a 3.0 grade-point average and a qualifying score on the Scholastic Assessment Test, has been contacted in recent weeks by San Diego State, Fresno State and New Mexico.

McElvaine impressed few scouts as a junior when he was slowed by illness and injury.

A preseason bout with the flu stripped 17 pounds from his frame, and he never fully recovered from a summer ankle injury.

That limited McElvaine to 392 yards in eight games and the Bulldogs missed the playoffs.

It also proved McElvaine was merely mortal.

"I don't really have superhuman powers," he conceded. "I just have regular powers. But I play with heart."


Desert Dash

Brandon McElvaine, right, of Highland High is the only player to rush for at least 100 yards in each Golden League game. He's the second-leading rusher in the league. Here's a look at the numbers:

vs. Littlerock

17 carries

101 yards

1 TD

vs. Lancaster

22 carries

124 yards

0 TD

vs. Quartz Hill

20 carries

176 yards

5 TD

vs. Antelope Valley

33 carries

209 yards

3 TD

vs. Palmdale

24 carries

112 yards

0 TD


116 carries

722 yards

9 TD

Record March

With every pass completion, quarterback Kyle Boller of Hart High comes closer to several single-season records.

Boller, a senior, has completed 216 of 339 passes for 3,711 yards and 46 touchdowns, giving him per-game averages of 371 yards, 4.6 touchdowns and 21.6 completions.

With Hart seeded No. 1 in the Division III playoffs, Boller could play four more games this season. Using four games as a guide, here's where he stands--and how he would have to perform in order to break the records:



Record Holder, School Yr. Needs/Avg. 4,362 yards Chris Czernek, Newbury Park '95 652 yards/163 46 touchdowns Kyle Boller, Hart '98 already holds 289 completions Ryan Connors, Hart '91 75/18.75




4,362 yards Chris Czernek, Newbury Park '95 652 yards/163 52 touchdowns Santiago Alvarez, L.A. Franklin '89 7/1.75 324 completions Santiago Alvarez, L.A. Franklin '89 110/27.5




4,656 yards Phillip Deas, Evangel Chr., Shreveport, La. '96 57 touchdowns Chris Redman, Male, Louisville, Ky. '94

4,656 yards 946/236.5 57 touchdowns 12/3


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