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A Cut Above

Ebell Tries to Help Ventura Reverse Trend Tonight Against Buena


VENTURA — Tyler Ebell doesn't have much hair on his head, but that doesn't stop him from bi-weekly trips to Ray's Barber Shop in Oxnard.

He goes there under the guise of getting his lid trimmed, but the trip serves a more hair-raising purpose--to exchange barbs and banter about who's who in Ventura County football.

Barbers Ray, Dominique, Curtis and Presley have oscillated between Oxnard, Hueneme and Ventura highs over the years, depending on which is having the best season and, equally important, which players walk through the doors of the shop.

These days, however, Kenny rules the barber-shop quintet. A former Ventura player, he glows whenever Ebell shows up. His alma mater, thanks to Ebell, is cutting up the competition.

"He's got a lot of talking rights around here," Presley acknowledges.

The talk of the county has been Ebell, who has rushed for a mind-numbing 1,785 yards and 24 touchdowns in five games.

He averages--a misnomer, seeing how there's nothing average about his play--357 yards rushing a game and 13.2 yards a carry. Nine of his touchdowns have been 40 yards or longer, including five from 75 yards or longer.

His acceleration through the hole is exceptional--he's there, then he's not--and his breakaway speed is a notch below that of Ronney Jenkins, former Hueneme back who plays for the San Diego Chargers.

His size is the only reason he's not hearing from Nebraska, Florida State and Michigan.

Listed at 5 feet 10, 185 pounds, Ebell doesn't have the big body coveted by Division I schools.

Some have hinted he would be better suited for cornerback, a position he plays out of necessity at Ventura, when teams enter the Cougars' red zone or when the score is close late in the game.

Ebell, for the record, would rather be a team manager than a cover corner in college.

"The people that say that, I don't even want to talk to them," Ebell said. "Offense is a lot better. I like the guys coming after me."

Ebell has been offered scholarships to Arizona and Washington, and Brigham Young might have offered had Ebell showed more than lukewarm interest. Too far from home, he said.

He has been contacted by UCLA, USC, Colorado State, San Diego State and Washington State.

"I can't believe why everybody wouldn't want him," said Ventura Coach Phil McCune. "[Tonight against cross-town rival Buena] will be a big test. If he does as well as I think he can against these guys, there'll be a lot of people after him.

"And if we get deep into the playoffs, there'll be a lot of scouts seeing him and that's important."

Ebell could challenge the state season rushing record set last year by Jermaine Marshall of Kilpatrick, who had 3,586 yards in 14 games.

With five regular-season games left, including three against porous San Marcos, Santa Barbara and Dos Pueblos, Ebell could surpass 3,000 yards before the playoffs.

The Cougars (5-0) are ranked No. 1 in Southern Section Division IV and could play four playoff games.

A stronger, faster Ebell has cruised past all regular-season challenges so far.

He gained an impressive 1,622 yards last year, but a rigorous off-season strength program has led to stratospheric improvement.

He charged up and down hills, ran countless sets of stadium steps, and, the coup de grace, engaged in two-mile runs in the sand . . . with his shoes on. His added muscle came in handy when he had 40 carries against Arroyo Grande.

"It didn't feel like that many," said Ebell, who rushed for 393 yards in the game. "Like Coach McCune said after the game, the ball's not that heavy. It doesn't weigh that much."

Ventura has lost to Buena five times in six years.

Buena limited Ebell to 151 yards last year. His longest gain was 26 yards and he scored on runs of 14, five and five yards.

Ventura was out-gained in the first quarter, 188 yards to 0, and ultimately lost, 49-28.

It's no secret what Buena (3-2) will do against Ventura.

"We're going to try our best to stop [Ebell] up front," Bulldog Coach Rick Scott said. "We'll have more than a handful of guys in the box at any given time. Who they'll be, I don't know. But they'll be there. If they beat us throwing the ball, so be it."

Plenty of people want to see Ebell succeed, including two who will cross the line of school loyalty.

His girlfriend, Sheana Triana, is a senior at Buena and his sister, Jennifer, is a Buena graduate.

"I know they'll be rooting for me," he said. "That's what they told me."

Also at the game, which drew an estimated 9,000 last season, will be the guys from Ray's Barber Shop.

After all, they need to know what to talk about the next time Ebell shows up.


Ebell Watch

Tyler Ebell of Ventura is on pace to become the fourth player in state history to rush for 3,000 yards in a regular season. The others are David Dotson of Moreno Valley Valley View, John Bordenkircher of Dixon and Chris Hanks of Cathedral. The state record of 3,586 yards in 14 games by Jermaine Marshall of Kilpatrick is also within reach. A look at Ebell's season:


Opponent Att. Yds. Avg. TD Simi Valley 12 330 27.5 4 Moorpark 26 375 14.4 5 Royal 21 308 14.8 4 Arroyo Grande 44 393 8.93 6 Oxnard 32 379 11.8 5 Totals 135 1,785 13.22 24



Buena, which plays Ventura tonight at 7:30, has won five of the last six games in the cross-town rivalry:


Buena 49, Ventura 28


Buena 35, Ventura 26


Buena 8, Ventura 7


Ventura 22, Buena 11


Buena 47, Ventura 28


Buena 24, Ventura 19


Crescenta Valley takes on Pasadena in a Pacific League game.

Page 18


A look at the top match-ups tonight.

Page 16

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