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CAMPUS REPORT

Being in the Spotlight Nothing New for Stein

Football: Former Los Alamitos High standout has helped Long Beach to a 6-0 record.

October 27, 1998|STEVE KRESAL | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The bigger the stakes on the football field, the more Sean Stein wants to be involved.

While at Los Alamitos High, one of the highest-profile programs in Southern California, he spent his junior year as a wide receiver instead of as a reserve quarterback so he could be on the field. He then won the starting quarterback job as a senior.

After high school, he picked Long Beach College, partly because it was near his home in Seal Beach but mostly because of the Vikings' 37-7 record and four bowl games appearances in the four seasons before he arrived.

Stein helped Long Beach to a 9-2 mark last season, including a victory in the Simple Green Orange County Bowl.

He has passed for 1,548 yards and 17 touchdowns this season and the Vikings are 6-0 and ranked second in the nation in the J.C. Grid-Wire behind Ricks, Idaho.

"I always wanted to play quarterback," Stein said, "I like the pressure of the spotlight. When the game's on the line, I want the ball."

It was never more true than Saturday in Long Beach's showdown with El Camino, which was ranked third in the nation by the J.C. Grid-Wire. Long Beach beat the host Warriors, 21-10, in front of about 5,000 in Torrance. The game was dominated by the defenses, but Stein was 15 of 24 passing for 138 yards. He also rushed for a touchdown.

"[Stein] is such a competitor," Long Beach Coach Larry Reisbig said, "He's a hard worker and really wants to succeed. He's mentally and physically tough too.

"Never once after taking a big hit has he wanted to come out. He just wants to get the next play called."

Stein said Long Beach has been a learning experience since he arrived. He immediately discovered the defenders are faster and that teams disguise coverages unlike most high schools. He also realized that quarterbacks who look at only one receiver are soon on the sideline watching their replacements.

Stein quickly learned the value of listening to veteran assistant coach Paul Chafe, who taught him to look over the entire field and have confidence the receivers are running their planned routes.

When he throws, Stein has plenty of choices. Long Beach has had 16 players with at least one catch. Jermaine Strong leads with 18.

Another good teacher for Stein has been Long Beach's defense. "This is the greatest team I've ever been on," Stein said, "So far my hardest opponent has been on the practice field."

Such praise of Long Beach is impressive, considering Stein was part of three Los Alamitos teams that helped put together a 47-game unbeaten streak.

He first gained attention as a high school sophomore when he made three starts in place of Kevin Feterik, who was hurt, and Los Alamitos won all three. Once Feterik's hand healed, Stein returned to the bench.

Feterik, now at Brigham Young, was a senior the next year, so Stein became a receiver. But in 1996, Stein returned to quarterback and the Griffins finished 9-2.

He was recruited by several colleges and Washington showed the most interest. A visit was arraigned but before that happened, the Huskies got commitments from two other quarterbacks and Stein suddenly had no Division I college interested in him.

"Recruiting was not a fun thing," Stein said.

He has heard from several colleges this season, including Michigan, Miami and California, but he knows it's all just talk at this point.

"He's a Division I quarterback," Reisbig said, "There's no question about that. It's just a matter of finding the right school where he can play. No one is going to recruit [him] to sit on the bench."

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