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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | THE HIGH SCHOOLS

Is It Too Soon to Write Off Alemany?

January 06, 2000|PAIGE A. LEECH

The writing appears all but on the wall at Alemany High.

It simply hasn't been decoded. Yet.

After building Alemany's football program into one of the region's best in only three seasons, Coach Jim Bonds is leaving and taking his wizardry to St. Francis.

Bonds, 31, opted to return to the school where he was an assistant for four years under Bill Redell, who resigned to start the football program at Oaks Christian in Westlake Village.

"I had a tremendous experience [at St. Francis]--the relationships I made, the support I had," Bonds said. "If I'm going to be in high school coaching for a long time, it's going to be at a place like St. Francis."

Great for St. Francis.

Not so great for Alemany, which could be destined for the cellar. That's where the Indians were before Bonds showed up.

Bonds, who benefited from a group of talented players whose arrival at Alemany coincided with his, resurrected a program that was 4-24-2 the three previous seasons.

Alemany went 19-16 in three seasons under Bonds, who guided the Indians to the Mission League title in 1998 and to the Southern Section playoffs in each of the last two seasons.

"Any time you lose somebody of the stature of Jimmy, it's going to be painful for a while," said Tim Browne, Alemany's athletic director. "But with the job he has done and where the program is now, we're going to be able to attract some good candidates for the job.

"We're better off now than when [Bonds] started."

But prosperity could be fleeting. A player exodus figures to follow Bonds out the door at Alemany, which must play the next two seasons in the competitive Division I Del Rey League.

A similar chain reaction occurred last year at Crespi after Tim Lins resigned to become coach at Moorpark. Celt players left in droves, leaving the program in shambles and contributing greatly to the team's 1-9 record last season.

Browne acknowledged he has heard rumblings about players transferring from Alemany, but said no one has asked for their walking papers.

"We're definitely going to try to keep the kids that are here," Browne said. "But you know we can't offer them million-dollar contracts."

Although the Indians lose quarterback Casey Clausen and wide receiver Derek Goodman to graduation, the cupboard is far from empty.

Junior De'Andre Scott, who rushed for 1,747 yards and scored 33 touchdowns last season, will be the region's No. 1 running back prospect next season. The rumor mill regarding where he will play has been grinding for about a month.

"From what I understand, he has five or six programs looking at him now," Browne quipped.

Scott, like many Alemany players, has adopted a wait-and-see attitude.

"I might stick it out [at Alemany]," Scott said. "I have to see who is going to coach."

Neither Scott nor his mother, Jennifer Strong, say they want him to leave Alemany. But they acknowledge it is an option.

"I'm hearing [about transferring] from all over the place," Strong said. "I pray to leave it in God's hands."

One school Scott won't be transferring to is St. Francis.

"De'Andre is one of the best players around but I wouldn't try to bring him with me," Bonds said.

Bonds said it is "not an option" for any Alemany players to follow him to St. Francis.

"I've talked to the administration at St. Francis and they're not going to entertain the possibilities of transfers," Bonds said. "And I wouldn't want to be associated with [a recruiting scandal]."

Jim Clausen, Casey's father and an Alemany assistant the last three seasons, bemoans Bonds' departure and is concerned about the future of the Indian football program.

Rick Clausen, a junior quarterback, is the heir apparent to his Tennessee-bound brother at Alemany, but the Clausens have made it clear their options are open.

"I know there's a lot of concern and anxiety, but we have to play out the hand and see who applies [to become coach]," said Jim Clausen, who is not interested in the Alemany job.

Clausen said his confidence in Bonds, a former Hart and UCLA quarterback, was the main reason he enrolled his sons at Alemany.

"What he did for my sons, a simple thank you would not be adequate," Clausen said. "I'm a huge Jim Bonds fan."

If he isn't a big fan of the next coach, Alemany can say goodbye to its quarterback.

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