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Coach Trying to Run a Reverse

October 08, 2003|Eric Stephens | Times Staff Writer

For every team such as Dorsey and Venice that's making a run at an undefeated season, there are those that can't seem to buy a victory, be they hopelessly overmatched or simply unable to catch a break.

Los Angeles Washington was one of those unfortunate teams until Friday, when the Generals stopped an 18-game losing streak with a 13-9 victory over visiting L.A. Locke.

It was Washington's first victory since it defeated University in Week 4 of the 2001 season.

"They were so ecstatic," first-year Coach Eugene McAdoo said of his players. "A couple of players came up to me and told me this was the first win of their high school career."

Several other teams are also looking to end streaks. Granada Hills Kennedy has dropped 15 in a row, and Hollywood has lost its last 26 games. Hamilton ended a 12-game streak with a victory over Washington in a season opener.

For Washington, its victory was a bright moment in an otherwise rough year for the school and its athletic program. On Aug. 23, Daniel Fitzgerald, a forward on the basketball team, was shot to death a few blocks from campus. That same month, the softball team had to forfeit its 2003 City Invitational title because it used an ineligible player.

Last March, several hundred Washington students were involved in an on-campus brawl with L.A. Unified school police officers, resulting in 11 arrests and prompting the school district to remove Principal James Noble.

McAdoo has taught at Washington for 10 years and has seen the slow decline of its football program. The Generals reached the City 3-A semifinals in 1993 but have not come close since.

"I watched a lot of different coaches, good coaches, try to resurrect this program," he said. "I know the pitfalls. There's some administration support now that was not really available to some of the other guys. I figured if I could get it done, this would be a really good accomplishment."

McAdoo knows what it's like to be at the top. He was a co-coach at Dorsey with Paul Knox from 1985-90, and the two led the Dons to their first section title in 1989. McAdoo left the next season to become an assistant coach at West L.A. College, where he stayed for nearly a decade before spending one year as an assistant at L.A. Southwest.

Although he was hesitant at first about becoming a head coach again, McAdoo said he's in it for the long run at Washington.

"I've seen all the good and the bad that can happen during the course of a season," he said. "I've got a great bunch of kids who are very coachable, and if we can get a few more players, I think we can do some things.

"I want to be at this until we get it turned around again."

Stability is something Jeff Trovatten is trying to create at Hollywood.

In 2001, the Sheiks gave up 14 points or less in five games but finished 0-9. Then LaMonte Peters left the program to coach at Washington, where he stayed only one season.

"He had done a nice job and had them to the next step, but then he left," said Trovatten, in his second year. "Then it just started to snowball downward."

Becoming competitive again has proved a daunting task. Last year, Hollywood managed only 48 points all season and lost by an average of 44.5 points. This season, the Sheiks have lost by scores of 49-6, 37-12, 34-0 and 40-0.

Trovatten trudges on. Small victories, such as a scoring drive or a winning quarter, are cherished.

"I knew that I was going to be in a long battle," he said. "We're just trying to get a little better each game.... Every Monday, I tell the kids that this is a new week and if we can execute this way, we can be in the ballgame in the fourth quarter."

The biggest challenge is winning over players who have been beaten down by losing and wonder whether their coaching staff will stay committed to them.

Trovatten is doing his part by simply returning for another season and also by establishing mandatory weight-room workouts and trying to make sure his players remain academically eligible.

"We're making some headway," Trovatten said. "Not all of our kids are into that same goal. I'm sure some say, 'You know, you can't kick us off the team, because you won't have a team.' But a lot of the time, it's just they really don't know what hard work it takes to win.

"A lot of people say we can't get it done here, but I say we can. It may take some time, but it's not impossible."

Travis Sterling, a senior wide receiver and safety at Washington, offered his perspective on why a player should stick it out during trying times.

"I love the sport," he said. "If you don't love the sport, then why do it? When you give up, that's it."


City top 10: 1. Venice (4-0); 2. Dorsey (4-0); 3. Gardena (4-0); 4. Crenshaw (3-1); 5. Fremont (3-0-1); 6. San Pedro (3-1); 7. Granada Hills (3-1); 8. Birmingham (1-3); 9. Carson (2-2); 10. Marshall (4-0).

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