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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | HIGH SCHOOL REWIND

Alemany Seeing What Got Away

November 19, 2000|DAVE DESMOND

A tough football season at Alemany High has perhaps become an even tougher off-season.

One year removed from an 8-4 record and a quarterfinal berth in the Southern Section Division I playoffs, the Indians finished 2-8 and in last place in the Del Rey League.

And, while all the equipment and uniforms are packed away at the Mission Hills campus, several former members of the program are thriving in the playoffs for other teams.

Transfers have become commonplace in this era of high school free agency, but no school in the region was hit harder this season than Alemany, which saw players scatter after Coach Jim Bonds accepted a position at St. Francis.

A quick look at first-round playoff results and it's difficult not to wonder how good Alemany could have been had everyone stayed.

* Rick Clausen passed for 310 yards and four touchdowns Thursday night in Taft's 54-33 victory over Marshall in the City Section playoffs. Bound for Louisiana State, Clausen has passed for 3,530 yards and 39 touchdowns.

* De'Andre Scott, The Times' Valley co-offensive player of the year last season as a junior, transferred to St. Paul last month and rushed for 126 yards Friday night in a 16-13 victory over Redlands in a Division I game.

* Bryan Wilson, a junior, caught a touchdown pass Thursday night as Granada Hills upset third-seeded Westchester, 30-12, in the City playoffs. Wilson has rushed for 756 yards, scored 11 touchdowns and will be one of the region's top college prospects as a defensive back.

* Quarterback Robert Herrick played sparingly for Valencia, but took over the position last week when Kyle Bauer was injured. Herrick, a senior who skipped his junior season at Alemany to focus on baseball, passed for 113 yards and a touchdown Friday night to help the Vikings to a 41-26 victory over Palmdale in a Division III opener.

* Bonds is 9-2 in his first season at St. Francis, including a 36-14 victory over Saugus in a Division III game on Friday night. His team faces third-ranked Antelope Valley next week in a quarterfinal.

"I would have liked to see all those guys do well at Alemany and not at other schools," Bonds said. "But that's what high school football has evolved to. Everyone wants to position themselves for a college scholarship, but it's kind of sad that there's that many guys that could have helped them have a good season."

Alemany is trying to move on.

"You can look back and say, 'What if?' " Athletic Director Tim Browne said. "But I learned a long time ago that you can't look back. You have to move forward."

*

Alan Eberhart no longer needs to cringe when the topic of the playoffs is raised.

He has built one of the region's strongest programs and won at least a share of three of the last four Pacific League titles but had never won a playoff game. Until Friday night.

The Falcons' 23-0 victory over Leuzinger in the first round of the Division III playoffs ended eight seasons of frustration and lifted a huge weight off their coach.

"It was heavy maybe on me and the staff," he said. "But we had been telling [the players] that [the playoffs] aren't about me. It's about them. I didn't want to burden them with that."

The last time Crescenta Valley (10-1) won a playoff game was 1992, when it upset Hart in a quarterfinal. It's quarterfinal opponent this season? Hart (9-2), two-time defending division champion.

"It's just nice to be playing anybody in the second round," Eberhart said.

*

Most Agoura players didn't realize they had just ended 11 years of frustration until after they upset third-seeded San Luis Obispo, 44-34, in a Division IV opener at San Luis Obispo.

The Chargers (7-3-1) had not won a playoff game since 1989, when they advanced to the Division VIII semifinals while still a member of the Frontier League.

"The coaches brought that up to us," said quarterback Chris Denove, who threw for 302 yards and four touchdowns. "It was an exciting feeling."

He wasn't quite as thrilled with the news that Agoura, fourth place in the Marmonte League, lost a coin flip on Saturday and must hit the road again, this time to Goleta for a quarterfinal against Dos Pueblos.

"You're kidding," said Denove, who is planning baseball recruiting trips to UCLA and Georgetown when the football season is over. "Not another drive."

*

The Division IV playoffs are beginning to look a lot like a Marmonte League-Channel League invitational.

Three teams from each league remain among the eight quarterfinalists: defending champion Westlake, Royal and Agoura of the Marmonte, and Buena, Ventura and Dos Pueblos of the Channel.

The only other Southern Section league in the region to have three teams survive was the Tri-Valley, which will be represented by defending champion St. Bonaventure, Oak Park and Carpinteria in the Division XI quarterfinals.

In the City Section, Birmingham, Taft and Granada Hills of the West Valley League won first-round games in the Championship bracket, and Chatsworth advanced in the Invitational.

*

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