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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Alemany Like Home for Scott

After leaving briefly to attend Eisenhower, standout running back is glad to be back on Mission Hills campus.

August 25, 2000|PAIGE A. LEECH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

De'Andre Scott is at ease these days.

You can see it in his hypnotic green eyes, toothy smile and jocular manner.

His presence soothes teammates as he saunters through the Alemany High locker room, softly shaking hands and passing out pats on the back to everyone in his path.

"I feel comfortable here," Scott said. "The people at Alemany High School make you feel at home."

No longer is the region's best running back filled with anxiety about where he's going to be playing in September.

"My friends are here," he said. "I should have never left."

Scott, The Times' Valley co-offensive player of the year last season, joined the exodus of Alemany coaches and players in January after the Indians' impressive 8-4 season in Southern Section Division I.

Coach Jim Bonds resigned to take over at St. Francis and a handful of players left. Quarterback Ricky Clausen, heir apparent to brother Casey, who is at Tennessee, transferred to Taft. Running back and defensive back Bryan Wilson bolted to Granada Hills.

"Everybody else is leaving, so why am I still here?" Scott said he asked himself.

"I was a confused kid. I didn't know which way to turn."

Within weeks of Bonds' announcement, Scott turned east, moved in with an uncle and enrolled at Rialto Eisenhower, which features a powerhouse football program and an enrollment of about 3,400.

But Scott, known for his quick decisions and exceptional change of direction on the field, reversed field, returning to Alemany after four days.

"I wasn't really comfortable [at Eisenhower]," Scott said. "I had friends there. . . . but I didn't feel at home. So I came back to where my home is."

Scott, who is being recruited by Nebraska, Tennessee and Penn State among others, was welcomed back with open arms.

"De'Andre makes the whole locker room more fun," said Garret Marxen, Alemany's kicker and a close friend of Scott's.

The 5-foot-11, 200-pound tailback who has led Alemany in scoring the past three seasons is Alemany's saving grace this season.

The Indians are the only team in the region playing in Division I and face that monumental task with a new coach, a new system and only five returning starters, three on offense.

With Scott coming off a junior season in which he rushed for 1,747 yards and scored 33 touchdowns, opponents know who needs to be stopped.

That fact is not lost on first-year Coach Craig Schuler, who arrived at Alemany in April.

Schuler, 36, a former head coach and offensive coordinator at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., has no intention of lining up Scott in the backfield for 30 rushes a game.

"[Scott is] going to line up a lot of different places," Schuler said. "We're going to try to keep people guessing where he's coming from.

"We'll be five receivers, no backs one play and wishbone the next play and then we'll be base I-formation."

And don't be surprised if Scott is taking a few snaps at quarterback.

Schuler is willing to try anything to keep defenses distracted. Even if it means touting another star.

"The misconception is that De'Andre is the only guy," Schuler said. "I think we've got three or four other guys who are outstanding in their own right.

"I think that's what is going to help De'Andre because teams aren't going to be able to focus on him."

But even Schuler himself couldn't take his eyes off Scott when he first saw him on game film.

Schuler and Bonds watched film together so Bonds could give insight to the new coach regarding players he was inheriting.

But one player needed no introduction.

"De'Andre jumps off the film at you because he makes plays that you don't see high school guys make very often," Schuler said.

Scott can juke would-be tacklers or run over them. He has no preference.

"I just like to score touchdowns," he said. "It doesn't matter how I do it."

Scott, who first donned pads for a youth football team at 6, is as confident as he is talented.

Three years ago, he introduced himself to a reporter as the "best freshman football player in the country." He was 14.

"And I still am [the best]," he said. "I'm not trying to be cocky or anything, but that's my attitude."

The remark makes Marxen smile.

"You've never seen a better running back than De'Andre, I've never seen a better running back than De'Andre and De'Andre has never seen a better running back than De'Andre," Marxen said.

"He knows it and everybody knows it."

Despite Scott's confidence, he is, by all accounts, an unselfish star. He loves teaching and talking football with younger boys, including his 12-year-old brother De'Von Blaylock.

When a teammate makes a mistake, Scott quickly provides a word of encouragement.

Schuler said he is more likely to see Scott sitting with freshmen and sophomores than with upperclassmen.

"I think that deep down, he's kind of an insecure, soft-hearted kid," Schuler said. "He tries to make people laugh and he'll put on the face like he's a tough guy. But I don't think that's what he's about."

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

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