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Record Proves His Way Works

October 29, 2003|Eric Stephens | Times Staff Writer

The sight of Coach Jeff Engilman on the Sylmar High sidelines is something to fear and behold. Blood rushes to his face, veins are exposed and unprintable words fly from his mouth at warp speed.

London Woodfin, who played at Sylmar from 1987 to '89, knows that sight all too well.

"Oh, man," Woodfin said, followed by a long laugh. "I remember when I started, there were only two sophomores on the team and I was one of them. Every time I did something wrong, he would go crazy and yell at me.

"It would get to where you'd see his face boil over and turn red."

Engilman has exhibited his rage along the sidelines for 25 years, but that's only one aspect of the 53-year-old coach.

He's also a proven winner who built a City Section powerhouse in the San Fernando Valley after arriving at Sylmar in 1987.

And so there was another sight to behold last Friday, when Engilman's players lifted him upon their shoulders after giving him the 200th victory of his career, a 28-21 win over North Hills Monroe.

It didn't happen the way Engilman wanted -- the Spartans needed a touchdown on a double pass from Joseph Higgens to Alan Perez after blowing a 14-point lead -- and the coach let his team know about that. But he couldn't keep from smiling too.

"Basically it says that you're doing something right," said Engilman, who has a 4-2-1 record this season and a 200-62-5 record in his career.

Among the highlights of the Engilman era is the 69-game winning streak in league play from 1989 to '99 that stands as a state record. Sylmar also won major-division championships in 1992 and 1994.

Engilman demands the same commitment from all of his players, stars or substitutes, and those who don't play by his rules don't remain on the team. Even after rushing for more than 2,000 yards last year, tailback Ryen Carew, was kicked off the squad because of a disagreement with Engilman. He now plays at Tujunga Verdugo Hills.

Woodfin, who played at UCLA and has been Sylmar's defensive coordinator since 1997, said Engilman is not as demonstrative as he once was.

"He's got this bad image but he's definitely not as aggressive as he used to be," Woodfin said. "He's adapted to how kids are nowadays. He knows what a kid can take and what he can't.

"But there is a fine line and when you break that fine line, he will let you know about it."

Engilman, who coached for eight seasons at Manual Arts, where he won 3-A division titles in 1983 and 1984, has hinted at retirement for years. But don't expect it anytime soon. "Football is Jeff Engilman's life," Woodfin said. "He breathes it, he sleeps it, he bleeds it."

Said Engilman: "I've always said that coaching is a love-hate relationship. If you still love it more than you hate it, then you say yeah. As long as you're still enjoying it."


Marlon Lucky of North Hollywood High and Anthony Dickson of Van Nuys Grant, two of the section's top running backs, were on display in a Sunset Six League game Friday at North Hollywood.

Lucky won the rushing duel, but Grant won the game, 37-33, to remain in first place. Lucky ran for 336 yards in 34 carries and scored all five of the Huskies' touchdowns. Dickson ran for 248 yards in 19 carries and had four touchdowns.

"It was wild; a little too wild," Grant Coach Bill Foster said. "There hasn't been a kid that's run for 100 yards against us since the Gardena game [in Week 2]. We weren't expecting [Lucky] to get loose like that."

Grant (4-3, 2-0) will be without Dickson on Friday when it plays host to Carew and Verdugo Hills (4-3, 2-0). Dickson will be serving an automatic one-game suspension for drawing two unsportsmanlike penalties in the victory over North Hollywood.


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

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