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A New Ballgame This Season for Campbell Hall

The Vikings graduate from eight-man football to 11. They open Saturday at La Verne Lutheran.


A new era is about to dawn for the Campbell Hall High.

After playing eight-man football from 1986-97, the Vikings will open their first season at the 11-man level at La Verne Lutheran at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Campbell Hall (6-4, 3-1 in Delphic League play last season) defeated Avalon, 52-6, in an 11-man game last year, but the rest of its games were played at the eight-man level.

"It's really exciting for everyone on the team and for the school in general," said Anthony Harris, Campbell Hall coach and athletic director. "The anticipation level is very high and it seems like it's building."

Aaron Kerr, a junior quarterback and linebacker, said he feels like his school has finally joined the big time.

"With eight-man, you felt like you were overlooked," Kerr said. "It wasn't like people totally ignored us, but we weren't taken as seriously because we were eight-man."

Harris expects the Vikings to contend for a championship in their first season in the seven-team Academy League.

The Vikings return eight starters on defense, four on offense and 22 of their 27 players have varsity experience.

Senior Sean Porter and junior Eric Bright are returning two-way starters in addition to Kerr.

Porter, a tailback and defensive back, is Harris' brother-in-law. Bright plays guard and defensive end.

Juniors Michael Womack and Darius Ingram, members of Campbell Hall's basketball team last season, and freshmen Matt Kaplan and J.D. Washington are notable newcomers to the program.

Womack is expected to start at fullback and play linebacker or defensive tackle. Ingram will start at tight end and linebacker.

Kaplan, a left-hander, is a quarterback. Washington, son of actor Denzel Washington, is a tailback.

"I don't think we're going to have to make a lot of adjustments to playing at the 11-man level," Harris said.

"We basically used an 11-man offense last year without two linemen and the second back. The only difference is going to come with depth. Injuries are more costly at the 11-man level."

Other teams to watch:

Bell-Jeff (2-8, 2-5 in Santa Fe League)--Seniors Richard Tobias and Alex Alvarez and junior Carlos Trujillo are the top returning players for the Guards, who are 5-25 since posting a 6-5 record in 1994.

Tobias is a running back and defensive back, Alvarez (6-4, 270 pounds) is an offensive and defensive lineman and Trujillo is a running back and linebacker.

Ed Chaidez, a senior running back and linebacker, is the team's top newcomer.

Flintridge Prep (6-5, 3-1 in Prep League)--Senior quarterback J.P. Blecksmith and senior wide receiver Peter Twist are expected to provide much of the Rebels' offense.

Blecksmith completed 75 of 162 passes for 1,068 yards and seven touchdowns last year and rushed for 711 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Twist had 40 receptions for 774 yards and five touchdowns.

Senior Ross Fippinger will anchor the defense for the Rebels and start at fullback.

Sophomore tailback Devin Brown is the brother of Darius Brown, former St. Francis standout, and is one of Flintridge Prep's top newcomers.

La Canada (7-5, 2-3 in Rio Hondo League)--Seniors Rocky Paneno, Ian Spencer-Smith and Jeff Riddell will be the leaders of a defense that posted four shutouts last year.

Paneno, a defensive back, intercepted four passes last year.

Spencer-Smith is a former wide receiver who will play defensive back this year and Riddell is a linebacker.

Seniors Chris Stone, a wide receiver last year, and Nate Dane, who hasn't played football for two years, will probably share time at quarterback.

Montclair Prep (5-2-1, freelance)--Seniors Joe Tatum and Ramon Johnson and juniors Gabby Abakasis, John Emelio and Ben Johnson are returning starters for a team that has won three Southern Section titles and posted a 74-11 record this decade.

Tatum, who packs 240 pounds on a 5-9 frame, will play fullback after starting at quarterback last year.

Ramon Johnson is battling sophomore Jason Goss for the starting quarterback position and is a starting defensive back.

Abakasis will play linebacker with Emelio (6-4, 235) and Ben Johnson (6-4, 300) playing tackle on both sides of the line.

St. Genevieve (2-8, 2-5 in Santa Fe League)--With only three returning starters from last year's team, the Valiants could be looking at their fifth consecutive losing season.

Sophomore Ed Jaime and senior Mario Melendez will start in the defensive backfield and split time at tailback.

Junior Mike Pisano will start at quarterback.

Vasquez (2-8, 1-3 in Desert Mountain League)--The Mustangs move to the High Desert League--replacing Alpha League-bound Paraclete--after playing in the Victory League during their inaugural season in 1996 and in the Desert Mountain League last year.

Senior tailback Kenny Johnson and junior fullback Wes Anderson are Vasquez's top returning players.

Junior Lance Little will start on the offensive line and linebacker with senior Steve Young starting at slot back and linebacker.



All times 7:30 p.m. unless otherwise indicated.

*League games.

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