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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | NOTEBOOK

Reed Rolls Seven of Warriors' 11 Sacks

September 22, 2000|ERIC SONDHEIMER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

WESTLAKE VILLAGE — Leo Reed, Westlake High's senior linebacker, is going to have a feast for dinner courtesy of Coach Jim Benkert after contributing seven of the Warriors' 11 sacks Thursday night during a 23-13 victory over Hart.

"I told Leo for three sacks he gets a steak," Benkert said. "Four sacks and he gets lobster."

For seven sacks, Reed deserves prime rib, filet mignon and any buffet line he chooses.

What's with these Warriors? They lost most of their top defensive players from last year's Southern Section Division IV championship team. And their defensive coordinator, Troy Thomas, left for Fresno State.

Benkert had the audacity to hire Mike Leibin, 23-year-old former Westlake receiver, as his new defensive expert. There were people who thought Leibin knew nothing about defense since all he cared about was passing the ball when he was coaching with the Warriors' lower-level programs.

But the fiery Leibin, who stands on the sideline with his cap on backward barking orders, moved Reed to defensive tackle for this week and Hart's blockers couldn't keep him away from quarterback Kyle Matter.

It wasn't only Reed roaming around Hart's backfield. Defensive end Joe Lemma had two sacks and helped a defense that prevented Hart from picking up its first first down of the second half until just over nine minutes left in the game.

"We knew going in all the hype was on Hart's defensive line," Leibin said. "I knew we had a good defensive line that no one knew about. A lot of the sacks were coverage sacks. It was a phenomenal defensive effort off two days of preparation. We were aggressive and kept coming."

Said Reed: "It was fun to play against a passing team, so everyone was in an all-out pass rush."

Crucial to Westlake's defense has been a group of seniors who spent most of last season on the bench.

They include linebackers Devin Lorier, Bill London and John White, and cornerback Phil McKnight.

"These kids didn't quit," Benkert said. "Now it's their time to shine."

*

UCLA football players Mike Seidman and Jerry Owens, who played at Westlake and Hart, respectively, were on the sideline together quietly cheering for their alma maters.

"We have a gentleman's bet," Owens said.

*

Matter has been sacked 20 times in the last two games. It's similar to what David Neill, former Hart quarterback, endured during the 1997 season when he was sacked 41 times.

In the fourth quarter, the Indians' offense finally started to produce on a 97-yard, 17-play drive that featured two receptions by Keith Howell on deflected passes.

Hart badly misses running back Tim Gregory, who is lost for the season with a torn knee ligament. Hart's run-and-shoot offense has featured outstanding quarterbacks and receivers, but the absence of a quality running back takes away valuable options.

"The key to a one-back offense is having a great back," offensive coordinator Dean Herrington said.

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