YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


TV Crew Is Positively Informative

September 24, 2000|STEVE HENSON

To players and parents, the glamour quotient of high school football is somewhere above the clouds. Televise a game, and it's out of this world.

VCRs in the homes of Westlake and Hart players were whirring Thursday night. And anybody who couldn't figure out how to program the confounded thing has already copied a tape from a teammate.

That's why the network--in this case, Fox Sports Net --bears a responsibility absent from an NFL or major college telecast.

Under those helmets are 16- and 17-year-old kids. For all but a few, this will be the only time their athletic exploits--or miscues--will be televised. Casting the action in a positive light is essential.

The Fox Sports Net 2 crew of Bill Macdonald, Mike Lamb and John Jackson gets it. Their delivery was far from flawless--much like the play on the field--but they were well-prepared and, more importantly, took great pains not to embarrass anybody.

When receiver Keith Howell of Hart made a touchdown catch on a pass tipped by a Westlake defensive back, Lamb pointed out Howell's experience as a basketball player helped. In addition to being insightful, the comment deflected attention from the defender.

When quarterback Kyle Matter of Hart was repeatedly sacked in the second half, Macdonald talked about the aggressiveness and quickness of Leo Reed, Joe Lemma and other Westlake defenders rather than the porous Indian line.

So the commentators referred to Reed as Lee instead of Leo throughout the game. Give them some leeway. High school players are hardly household names.

High school rules can be disorienting too. A double pass by Hart that resulted in a long gain flustered Macdonald and Lamb, who believed it was illegal.

Yet the crew gets high marks for digging up fresh notes and anecdotes on teams they knew little about until this week. Among the nuggets:

* To underscore the coaching ability of the two local powers, they pointed out Hart's staff coached the California team in the Shrine game in 1999 and Westlake's staff coached the team in 2000.

* Instead of lauding Westlake receiver-defensive back Ryan Foltz with the typical, "He's big and fast" platitudes, they related that a week ago Coach Pat Hill of Fresno State was so impressed by Foltz in a game at Clovis West that he left a message with Coach Jim Benkert of Westlake offering Foltz a scholarship despite never having met him.

* When quarterback Todd Feiereisen of Westlake twice pinned Hart inside the five-yard line with punts, they revealed he was punting for the first time.

Of course, had the commentators really done their homework, not only would they have known a double forward pass is legal as long as the first catch is behind the line of scrimmage, they would have pointed out the irony of Benkert getting burned by a play that was a favorite of his in the early 1990s.


Ventura County teams get tube time every week. Channel 3 Key News of Santa Barbara airs an hour-long highlight show, Friday Football Focus, at 11:15 p.m.

Although most of the highlights are from the first halves of games, all final scores are reported and features on former local stars are mixed in. Friday's show included segments on Ryan McCann, the UCLA quarterback formerly of Agoura High; Josh Hawkins, the former Nordhoff running back who plays at Brown; and Will Svitek, former Newbury Park tight end who plays for Stanford.

Friday Football Focus is a must for fans from Westlake to Atascadero. Where else can touchdown runs by Tyler Ebell, Freddie Keiaho, Lorenzo Booker, Loren Cerny, Jon Contos, Leslie Lee and Marcus Crawford be seen in one hour?


Ebell and Booker have been running around together since they were 10. Now the childhood friends are at separate schools, but the running only gets better.

Ebell, a Ventura senior, has three 300-yard rushing games in a row and already has 1,014 yards. He broke off scoring runs of 90 and 83 yards Friday against Royal to keep the Cougars unbeaten.

Booker, a St. Bonaventure junior, has 566 yards, including 214 against Riverside Notre Dame on Thursday to keep the Seraphs unbeaten. Booker can't match Ebell's astonishing pace, but he did have a longer run, going 95 yards against Notre Dame.

Booker was on the Ventura sidelines Friday, chatting it up with Ebell when the outcome was decided in the fourth quarter.

"He's my homeboy," Ebell said. "Lorenzo and I always played together. We'll always hang out."


Ebell's performance wasn't the best in the region. Perry Clayton of Grant rushed for 313 yards and added a 36-yard touchdown reception.

Yet quarterback David Koral of Palisades made Clayton look like a stagecoach racing a jet in the Dolphins' 48-30 victory over Grant. Koral set a national record with 764 yards passing, smashing the previous mark by 92 yards.

Receiver Greig Carlson of Palisades, a transfer from Taft, had nine catches for 253 yards. Although Carlson was the Toreadors' leading receiver last year, he would have shared time with sophomore Steve Smith and senior Chris Morgan.

Carlson's mother, a fixture with a camera on the Taft sidelines last season, said she slipped an 'i' in Greig's name to make him stand out. There's no 'i' in Taft or team, but there is in Pali, so Carlson transferred to the most prolific passing program in the state.


Feiereisen, Keiaho and Greig Carlson must make English teachers cringe. So much for " 'i' before 'e' except after 'c.' "

Los Angeles Times Articles