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Double Time

Dorsey, Fremont, Taft and Crenshaw Feature Two-Way Stars

November 30, 2001|GARY KLEIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The four teams remaining in the City Section Championship division football playoffs are among the faster and more versatile in the section.

Crenshaw (10-0) and Woodland Hills Taft (9-2) play in a semifinal tonight at San Pedro High. The game is a rematch of the season opener in which Crenshaw defeated the Toreadors, 21-14.

Fremont (9-2) and Dorsey (8-3) also meet for the second time this season when they play tonight at Gardena. Dorsey won the Coliseum League finale between the teams, 21-6.

All four teams have multiple weapons on offense and defense. Each also has one player who has proved capable of determining his team's fate with a standout performance on either side of the ball.

"You need every player on your team to show up ready to play in a game like a semifinal," Fremont Coach Pete Duffy said. "But there are certain guys that can just take over. And everyone left has a guy like that."

At Taft, that guy is Steve Smith, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound junior. His coach, Troy Starr, calls him one of the best players in the United States.

Smith is also an outstanding basketball player and was a state finalist in the triple jump last spring. As a receiver, Smith outruns defensive backs and uses his height and leaping ability to catch everything thrown his way. He is surrounded by other speedy receivers, including Noah Smith, making it difficult for defenses to double team him.

Smith might be even more valuable to Taft on defense. He has intercepted 12 passes and has proven a force even in limited action.

Last week, for example, Smith caught nine passes for 169 yards but played only two series on defense because of a sore shoulder.

Yet, he made a leaping, game-saving interception in the end zone with 1 minute 20 seconds left to preserve the Toreadors' 17-14 victory over Carson.

"He has good vision on the field and can go up and get the ball as a receiver or defensive back," Crenshaw Coach Robert Garrett said. "He can definitely hurt you."

Garrett's go-to player is Corey Hudson, who makes adjustments look easy. He began the season as a running back and defensive back, but has played quarterback as well since Eric Willcockson suffered a concussion on Oct. 12.

Hudson, a 5-10, 180-pound senior, rushed for 256 yards and two touchdowns in 13 carries against Wilmington Banning on Sept. 21 and has broken long runs for touchdowns or long gains in every game since.

In the 39-17 quarterfinal victory over Sylmar last week, Hudson scored on runs of 75, 12 and 76 yards and finished with 170 yards in 10 carries.

"He is an all-around great player and can play just about any position on the field," Duffy said. "You can't take your eyes off him for a second."

Like Smith, Fremont's Mark Bradford combines the skills of a basketball player and track athlete on the football field.

The 6-2, 185-pound junior has started for the varsity basketball team since he was a freshman.

Bradford played wide receiver and defensive back for most of this season and was steady and spectacular. In a 27-19 victory over Crenshaw, later forfeited because the Pathfinders used an ineligible player, Bradford made three catches after tipping the ball while on the run.

Bradford moved to running back when the playoffs began, but still caught eight passes for 107 yards and two touchdowns in a 42-34 victory over Franklin. Last week against top-seeded Van Nuys Birmingham, Bradford ran for 87 yards and a touchdown in 10 carries in a 24-21 victory.

"He's been their go-to guy all year," Dorsey Coach Paul Knox said. "We did a good job against him the first time we played, but now that he has moved to running back, we're going to have to find him every play."

At Dorsey, 6-4, 205-pound senior receiver and defensive end Tremaine Towns has a football pedigree. He is the brother of Carolina Panther linebacker Lester Towns.

Tremaine has not been as consistent as Smith, Hudson or Bradford, but his athletic ability is on par and he has shown flashes of dominance.

In a 24-20 loss against Crenshaw on Oct. 12, Towns blocked a punt and returned it one yard for a touchdown. He also caught a 24-yard touchdown pass and made several one-handed catches going over the middle.

In last week's 20-14 quarterfinal victory over Westchester, he scored on a 26-yard pass play in the first quarter and provided the Dons with what proved the game-winning touchdown with a leaping catch that completed a 45-yard scoring play.

"He's a tall kid that can just snag the ball on offense and people running with it on defense," Garrett said.

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