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Quietly Becoming One of City's Best

Prep football: Woodland Hills Taft's Broadus may be shy off field, but he doesn't shy away from big hits on it.

September 07, 2002|JOHN ORTEGA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

His football coach at Woodland Hills Taft calls him an impact player who can carry a defense.

A coach at a rival school says he's an outstanding athlete on a team loaded with them.

His teammate, an All-City Section quarterback, marvels at his ability to wreak havoc on an opponent's offense.

Yet what might make linebacker Lance Broadus unique is the difference between his demeanor on and off the field.

On it, the 6-foot-3, 220-pounder is extremely aggressive, covering ground quickly and delivering bell-ringing hits. Off it, he is rather quiet and shy.

"It's like he's two different people," Taft quarterback Cary Dove said. "Because he's so big and intimidating, he almost scares people. But he's really a fun guy to talk to. He's like a big, strong teddy bear."

Broadus, the No. 4-ranked senior linebacker in the West by Student Sports magazine, is aware of the transformation when he puts on his uniform. But he finds it difficult to explain.

"I don't really like to talk that much," he said. "But something happens on the field. I'm not sure if it's adrenaline or being competitive, but it's almost like a light goes on and it's my time to shine."

Broadus was at his best during last year's playoffs, when he averaged 18 tackles to help Taft advance to the City title game after the Toreadors finished second to Lake Balboa Birmingham in the West Valley League.

"Something just got into me," Broadus said. "We hadn't made it very far in the playoffs the previous year, so I just wanted us to go as far as we could go."

His coach, Troy Starr, said Broadus put the entire defense on his back during the playoffs.

"Against Carson, Crenshaw and Dorsey, he was absolutely dominant," Starr said. "He had as dominant a game against Dorsey as you're going to see a high school linebacker have."

The City championship game against Dorsey at the Coliseum is a source of pride and pain for Broadus.

He's proud that Taft held the Dons' offense to zero points and 60 yards in the second half.

But it pains him that Dorsey won, 19-14, after blocking a punt and recovering it in the end zone as time expired.

"We let up a little bit and they got by us and blocked the punt," Broadus said with resignation. "We learned that we can't let up at all. That we have to play hard until the game is over."

Birmingham has beaten Taft, 41-14 and 40-21, the last two seasons, but Patriot Coach Ed Croson has the utmost respect for Broadus.

"He's big, he's physical and he's rangy," Croson said. "He's not a guy who's going to talk a lot, but he's going to make plays. He has a lineman's size and moves like a defensive back."

Dove, entering his second season as Taft's starting quarterback, concurs.

"He just seems like he's everywhere he shouldn't be," Dove said.

"He's hard to pass it over because of his height and he's hard to throw around because of his frame. He's quick and has a big arm span. He's amazing."

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