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High Schools | SOUTHERN SECTION FOOTBALL

Rialto Coach No Fan of Players

November 08, 2001|BEN BOLCH

Rialto High's football team is assured of its second-ever winning season, but its coach says he isn't proud.

The Knights are in position to win their first football league title in the school's 10-year history, but their coach says he doesn't care.

Rialto could make a run at the Southern Section Division I title, but its coach says it wouldn't matter.

None of these accomplishments, Don Markham contends, could erase the fact that his Knights have constantly exasperated him by missing practices and displaying a poor attitude during the regular season, which ends Friday with a game against Redlands.

"What a bunch of jerks they are," Markham, in his second year at Rialto and 30th overall, said of his players. "About half the team is no good. This is the worst team I've ever had."

On paper, it may be one of the best. Rialto (7-2, 3-1 in the Citrus Belt League), No. 25 in The Times' rankings, could win a share of its first league title Friday at the University of Redlands with a victory over No. 8 Redlands (9-0, 4-0). But if the Knights do, don't expect Markham to jump up and down in delight.

"I'm not excited at all," Markham said. "I'm not happy with the kids. They don't care. They're not excited about it, and I'm not excited about coaching them."

Markham suspended five players for three games earlier this season for fighting--with each other. Since the Knights' roster contains fewer than 30 players, Markham had to call up players from the freshman and junior varsity teams to fill the holes.

The younger players, Rialto Athletic Director Rob Williams said, hold promise. Not only are the freshman and junior varsity teams undefeated, Williams said, their players are more disciplined and respectful.

"We don't have a winning tradition on the varsity level," Williams said, "and some of these kids who are holdovers [from the previous coaching regime] don't know what it takes to get to that point."

Jimmy Williams, a two-way starting lineman who is unrelated to the athletic director, said the team is characterized by a mind-set in which "everybody's for themselves, everybody is an individual and no one is a team player. A lot of players don't come to practice because they're not starting or getting the ball as much as they were."

The younger Williams said that Markham, who is 13-7 as Rialto coach, has tried his best to bring his team together. "He still believes in us, I think," Williams said. "We just have a lot of players who are not cooperating. [Markham] is a very nice guy, and sometimes they take advantage of him."

Markham said he takes some solace in the fact that most of the troublemakers will graduate after this season, but for now, he said they "take the fun out of" winning.

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Seeing yellow: Los Angeles Cathedral Coach Kevin Pearson will meet with an officials' liaison Friday to review tape of the Phantoms' 53-32 victory over Pasadena La Salle after expressing outrage that his team drew 32 penalties for 345 yards and had six touchdowns called back.

La Salle drew five penalties.

"It's ridiculous," Pearson said. "[The officials] should be ashamed of themselves in the name of fair play."

Pearson said the officiating deteriorated to the point where it became retaliatory in nature. Pearson was penalized, he said, after arguing a call in which an incomplete shovel pass was ruled a fumble.

"The adults, the officials, did not allow an honorable game to take place," said Brother John Montgomery, Cathedral's principal. "The game seemed tainted. We won, but we walked off the field not feeling good about this victory."

Joe Conte, the liaison for the San Gabriel Valley Football Officials Assn. who agreed to review the tape, declined to comment.

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Poly redux: NFL Films Presents will broadcast a segment on Concord De La Salle's 29-15 victory over Long Beach Poly at 5:30 p.m. Friday on ESPN.

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Strange position: Santa Ana Mater Dei, which hasn't missed the playoffs since going 5-5 in 1986, is in a precarious position. The No. 23 Monarchs (5-4, 1-1) must defeat Serra League rival Bellflower St. John Bosco (6-3, 1-1) Friday to gain one of the league's two guaranteed playoff spots.

Mater Dei could still make a case for an at-large berth if it loses. The Monarchs' four defeats are to Concord De La Salle, the No. 1 team in the nation; Mission Viejo, No. 2 in The Times' rankings, No. 5 Edison and No. 6 Santa Margarita.

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