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High Schools | SOUTHERN SECTION FOOTBALL REPORT

Workouts in Off-Season Time Well Spent for Poly

September 26, 2002|BEN BOLCH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

After his team had polished off Kahuku of Hawaii Saturday night in Honolulu, Long Beach Poly High Coach Raul Lara settled into a seat at Aloha Stadium alongside other Jackrabbit coaches and players to scout an opponent they would be meeting in three weeks.

Concord De La Salle sparkled in in a 31-21 defeat of Honolulu St. Louis to stretch its national-record winning streak to 127 games. That was expected.

What wasn't expected was the way Poly manhandled Kahuku, the two-time defending state champions, 42-16, earlier in the evening.

Poly running back Lorenzo Bursey scored three touchdowns, quarterback Leon Jackson looked crisp in passing for 172 yards, and receiver Derrick Jones scored on a 56-yard reception and an 82-yard kickoff return.

"I knew our kids were ready," Lara said. "But man, the way they performed.... It was like, wow!"

The big showing upped the interest in the rematch between Poly (2-0) and De La Salle (2-0) at 2 p.m. on Oct. 12 at California. The Spartans won last year's game, 29-15, in a matchup of teams widely regarded as Nos. 1 and 2 in the nation.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday September 27, 2002 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 7 inches; 255 words Type of Material: Correction
High school football--The North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake football team won its first two games of the season for the first time since 1999, not 1994, as reported in a Sports story Thursday.

De La Salle began this season as the top-ranked team in most national polls, but Poly dropped a few notches after graduating the "big five" of running back Hershel Dennis, tight end Marcedes Lewis, defensive back Darnell Bing and linemen Winston Justice and Manuel Wright.

Lara contends that the departure of the five players strengthened his team.

"Last year, everyone talked about the 'Big 5,' " he said. "It didn't give us a lot of dissension, but everyone depended on the five. This year, nobody's depending on anyone to pull us out. It's a team thing."

Said Jones: "No one is going to get big-headed. You can't single anyone out because it's a team effort."

Another factor that may bode well for the Jackrabbits, Lara said, is that they are ahead of where they were this time last season. Lara, a second-year coach, attributed the increased preparedness to spending his first full off-season with his charges.

"It's obvious, especially the way we executed on offense the first two games," Lara said, "that the off-season helped us."

The Jackrabbits will need every intangible on their side to topple De La Salle, at least judging from Lara's assessment of the Spartans.

"They execute very well and they come off the ball really well. It's just like last year," he said. "The only difference is that they had a known quarterback last year. This quarterback is good but isn't getting hype."

Cecil Britt completed six of 10 passes for 116 yards against St. Louis. Britt replaced Matt Gutierrez, who is at Michigan. Running back Maurice Drew, who scored four touchdowns last year in the Spartans' victory over the Jackrabbits, gained 125 yards and scored a touchdown in 19 carries against St. Louis.

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Poly is trying to schedule a game against Kahuku next season, this time in Southern California.

Funny thing is, Kahuku didn't want to play Poly this season.

The two-time defending state champion originally coveted what they considered the bigger challenge: playing De La Salle. But De La Salle officials nixed those plans because they didn't want to go up against a team that had already played three games, said Keith Amemiya, executive director of the Hawaii High School Athletic Assn.

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Huntington Beach Edison, off to its worst start since 1987, when it began the season 0-5, couldn't have timed its bye week more perfectly. The Chargers (1-2) have lost four starters to knee injuries and need time to bring their replacements up to speed in practice.

The string of injuries started during preseason conditioning, when senior strong safety Dayne Acosta suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament. In Edison's second game, against San Clemente, junior offensive guard Tua Fuga tore his ACL. And last week against Mission Viejo Capistrano Valley, senior offensive guard Robert Barna dislocated his kneecap and senior linebacker Bubba Reynolds suffered a torn posterior cruciate ligament.

While Fuga is out for the season, Barna is expected to return in two to three weeks. Reynolds, a team captain, and Acosta probably won't be back for at least a month.

"We're kind of in shock right now," Edison Coach Dave White said. "We're playing a few sophomores and a lot of juniors. We're going to make mistakes, but we've got to try to get better."

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Los Angeles Loyola senior quarterback Adam Gonzalez will start Friday against Pasadena Muir even though he hasn't fully recovered from a shoulder injury suffered last week in the first quarter of a 35-20 victory over Harbor City Narbonne.

Gonzalez, whose throwing motion was adversely affected by the injury, had two passes intercepted before being replaced by junior Scott Deke in the second quarter. Gonzalez came back in the second half but had another pass picked off and sat out the remainder of the game.

"He's such a competitor," Loyola Coach Steve Grady said of Gonzalez, "but he's got to recognize when he's not at full strength."

Gonzalez will likely play cornerback if he is unable to go at quarterback, Grady said.

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Moreno Valley and North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake are 2-0 for the first time since the mid-1990s.

Moreno Valley defeated Moreno Valley Rancho Verde, 20-10, last week, giving the Vikings two victories in their first two games for the first time since 1996. The Vikings, who won once last season, are led by Sean Brown, who has rushed for more than 100 yards in each game.

Harvard-Westlake improved to 2-0 for the first time since 1994 under its first-year coach, Greg Gonzalez, with a 35-10 victory over Rosemead Bosco Tech.

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