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Cleveland Gets Moving as Landress Calls Shots

November 10, 1999|STEVE HENSON

Running an offense is like riding a bicycle for Steve Landress. He never forgot how.

A coach and teacher at Cleveland for so long he remembers the last Cavalier league championship team in 1978, Landress, until this season, focused on coaching the baseball team since resigning as football coach in 1992.

He returned as co-coach with Bill Paden and calls the plays for an offense that has scored 351 points, far and away the highest total among City Section teams in the region.

The Cavaliers average 377 yards a game, second only to Taft, whom they meet Friday with the West Valley League championship on the line.

"I don't even know the stats," Landress said. "I just call the plays and run them. I'm not in the computer age."

Landress, 50, has maintained a healthy sense of humor over a coaching career that began not long after he graduated from Cleveland. Now his son appears to have caught the bug. A former All-City baseball and football player at Granada Hills, Jimmy Landress, 22, is helping his dad as an assistant.

"He's a tremendous help," Steve Landress said.

The Landresses have plenty of talent to work with. Five Cleveland backs and receivers run 100 meters in under 11 seconds.

James Bethea, who has rushed for 1,524 yards and scored 26 touchdowns, is the best known, but he is complemented by receivers Ontae Chaney, who averages 20.7 yards on 28 catches, and Matthew Clark, who has scored 10 touchdowns on kick returns, receptions and runs from scrimmage.

Chris Barfield, a two-way starter, and Julian Linear, a defensive back, also can fly.

"These kids all have those breakaway skills," Landress said. "They can evade the first guy and run north and south."


Eddie Whitaker, Cleveland's senior quarterback, is the picture of perseverance. The 6-4 senior has overcome a rocky start attributed to an inexperienced offensive line to complete 55% of his passes for 1,223 yards and 15 touchdowns.

"Whitaker is having a solid year," Landress said. "His completion percentage is much better. He is very tough. He can take a hit as well as anybody, and believe me, early in the season he took some hits."

Whitaker transferred from Granada Hills after his sophomore year.

"He's had three different offensive coordinators in three years running different systems," Landress said. "That's been tough, but he's handled it very well."

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