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Valley / Ventura County Sports

Littlerock Lineman in Forward Motion

Despite suffering from dyslexia, two-way starter Smith excels on and off the field for unbeaten Lobos.

October 30, 1998|DAVE DESMOND | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

LITTLEROCK — Ben Smith suffers from dyslexia.

But if anyone thinks he'll use it as an excuse, Littlerock High's standout defensive lineman says they're the ones who have it backward.

"It's never been a big deal to me," said Smith, who attends remedial English classes. "I'm never going to allow it to be a crutch. I'm still going to excel in life."

So far, so good.

Smith, a three-sport letterman and a B student, holds the office of student president, as well as anchoring one of the region's best defenses.

Tonight, he and his Lobo teammates will travel to Lancaster for a game that should determine the Golden League title.

"[The league championship] is a huge goal right now," said Smith, a senior who has a lot of them.

When the school year ends, Smith plans to embark on a Mormon mission before enrolling at Brigham Young.

Littlerock (7-0, 2-0 in league play), ranked No. 7 in the region by The Times, is off to its best start thanks to a defense that allows only 177.7 yards per game.

On a team solid at every defensive position, Smith deserves a chunk of the credit.

"Ben is having a real good year for us," Coach Jim Bauer said. "He's played a very important role in the success of this team."

Indeed, everything is running like clockwork for the Lobos and the player they call Big Ben.

Smith, 6 feet 1 and 230 pounds, is Littlerock's only two-way lineman.

On offense, he helps open holes for a team averaging more than 220 yards rushing. Last year, he was the only junior on the All-Golden League first team for offense.

On defense, Smith is sometimes overshadowed by linebackers Mike Arvizo and Adam Fabela, both of whom broke school records for tackles last season.

Arvizo and Fabela might not break those records again.

"That's because Ben and the rest of the line are penetrating so much, they're getting a lot of tackles that we would have gotten last year," Fabela said of Smith, Chester Flowers and William Oates.

As a sophomore, Smith was promoted to the varsity late in the season. He made an impression by twice heaving a senior all-league lineman through the air during drills.

Smith has hurled bodies and various other objects ever since.

Last year, he finished seventh in the heavyweight division at the Southern Section Division IV wrestling finals, and he also competes in the discus and shotput in track and field.

The sixth of seven children, Smith is the first member of his family to attend Littlerock.

Five siblings attended Antelope Valley, including brother Nathan, who played tight end for the Antelopes. Last week, the Lobos shut out Antelope Valley, 24-0, ending a six-game losing streak to their rival.

"There was definitely some trash talk in the family the week before that game," said Ben, who might not be the best football player in his family.

Younger brother Timothy, in the eighth grade, plans to enroll at Littlerock in September. He's already 6 feet and 230 pounds. "In our family, everybody tries to top their older brothers and sisters," Ben said. "Maybe he's next."

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