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Duo's Hits Keep On Coming

Lakewood linebackers McCovey and Brown, rated among the best in U.S., have worked to perfect tackling abilities.

September 09, 2004|Peter Yoon | Times Staff Writer

Adrian McCovey and Luthur Brown each gets the same sort of confident grin when describing his favorite type of hit.

For McCovey, it's flattening a receiver cutting across the middle. Brown likes to chase running backs across the field and then unload when they try to cut back.

For those enduring the punishment, there is no lesser among these two evils. Both have been rated among the top linebackers in the nation.

McCovey is 6 feet 4, 215 pounds; Brown is 6-3, 225. Each has plenty of speed, strength and all the intangibles that make a good linebacker great.

Either is skilled enough to elevate any high school defense, but the daunting thing is, both play for Lakewood.

"It's nice to have two," Lakewood Coach Michael Christensen said. "I've seen great individual players, but I've never seen a pair that is that good. We see it every day and you'd think we'd get used to it, but we're always looking at each other and saying, 'Oh my God.' "

Brown and McCovey led a Lakewood defense that limited opponents to 15.3 points per game last season and allowed two touchdowns or fewer in seven of its 11 games.

Their presence, along with six other starters from that defense, has Lakewood thinking about a Moore League championship for the first time in nearly 20 years.

Accomplishing that, however, means getting past perennial power Long Beach Poly -- no easy task, but a challenge Lakewood is ready to undertake.

"It's hard not to think about it," McCovey said. "We have a long way to go before that, but we know we can play with those guys."

That's because last season, Lakewood nearly pulled off the upset. The Lancers led, 10-7, before Poly struck for a touchdown on a third-and-20 play with 1 minute 42 seconds left.

It's a bitter memory that has stuck with the linebacker duo, one not easily erased because they regularly watch the tape of that game.

"I think about it while I'm doing push-ups in practice," Brown said. "I refuse to lose to Poly again."

Brown and McCovey each has scholarship offers from all the big-time schools: USC, Louisiana State, Miami, Oklahoma.

Neither has decided where they want to go, but they openly say that wherever they go, they want to go together.

As a tandem, they are the gears in the Lakewood defense. Christensen, also the defensive coordinator, has designed a scheme in which Brown and McCovey make most of the tackles.

Last season, McCovey led the team with 69 tackles and Brown was second with 67. Those numbers might seem low, but that's because Christensen credits each only for solo tackles.

McCovey, motivated by a demotion to junior varsity as a sophomore, has added about 20 pounds of muscle since last season and bench-presses 100 pounds more than he did two years ago.

Brown has added about 15 pounds to his playing weight and more than 50 pounds to his bench press.

"We were real motivated this summer," Brown said. "This is our senior year so we want to go out with a bang."

Sort of like the bangs opposing running backs go out with, though Brown said he knows exactly who he'd rather get hit by.

"The free safety," he said. "I wouldn't want to be hit by me and I wouldn't want to be hit by him either."

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