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Los Alamitos takes big step

October 24, 2008|ERIC SONDHEIMER | Sondheimer is a Times staff writer.

John Barnes turned 60 on Thursday, and the winningest football coach in Orange County history got to share birthday cake with his Los Alamitos players this week.

"Thank God they didn't put candles on it," he said. "I tell everybody I look pretty good for 60."

His unbeaten team, ranked No. 19 by The Times, took a big step toward winning the Sunset League championship after knocking off No. 6 Huntington Beach Edison, 23-19, Thursday night at Long Beach Veterans Stadium.

This season is starting out as a memorable one for the Barnes family.

The patriarch has guided his team to a 7-0 overall record and 2-0 mark in the Sunset. His oldest son, Brian, who coaches Rancho Santa Margarita Tesoro, is 6-0.

Imagine what life might be like in the Barnes household if Tesoro and Los Alamitos were to meet in the Pac-5 Division playoffs.

"My wife wouldn't forgive me if we won," Barnes said.

The Griffins have lots of offensive weapons, starting with 6-foot-4, 225-pound Colorado-bound quarterback Clark Evans, who makes plays with his arm and legs.

"He's a handful for the defense," Barnes said. "He's a game breaker."

Evans passed for two touchdowns and ran for another score. He completed 13 of 20 passes for 176 yards with one interception. He also ran for 61 yards in 19 carries but lost 35 yards when instructed by his coach to take a safety at the end of the game.

Edison (5-2, 1-1) had a fumbled kickoff and a fumbled pass to allow Los Alamitos to open a 16-7 halftime lead.

And just when the Chargers were trying to come back in the fourth quarter, they lost the ball on another fumble.

While he has coached his share of top quarterbacks, Barnes' receivers haven't been too bad, either. Barnes is convinced junior Paul Richardson Jr. and senior Darryl Jenkins have a chance to rank with the best in his 30 years at Los Alamitos. Jenkins caught a 63-yard touchdown pass Thursday.

"They're up there," he said. "We'll see what happens."

League stands firm

As the Southern Section prepares for the revamping of its sports leagues for the 2010-2011 school year, the eight-team Marmonte League has taken the first step to prevent other leagues from forcing it to take Ventura County sports power Westlake Village Oaks Christian.

Leagues are placed in seven geographic areas and two demographic areas (parochial and small school). The Marmonte League, part of the Northern Area, has asked to be moved into the Foothill Area, which goes from Long Beach to Palmdale.

If granted, the Marmonte League would be shielded from being asked to add Oaks Christian.

"The people in the Tri-Valley League want to push Oaks Christian to us," Westlake football Coach Jim Benkert said. "We want to stay together."

Oaks Christian has won 24 Southern Section championships in the last six years, including five in football.

Tri-Valley League schools have tried to remove Oaks Christian from their league, and now in the new releaguing cycle, they are trying again.

If the Foothill Area were to accept the Marmonte League, the Tri-Valley would be out of options because it is part of the Northern Area.


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