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ON HIGH SCHOOLS

Zernickow has San Dimas No. 1

October 27, 2008|ERIC SONDHEIMER | Sondheimer is a Times staff writer.

San Dimas football Coach Bill Zernickow doesn't need a pat on the back as motivation to finish first.

Since he was in elementary school and his teachers always called his name last when taking roll, he has had incentive to seek recognition.

"It drove me crazy and made me work harder to play athletics," he said. "I had a pretty good high school career because I was sick of being last."

Coach Z, as he's known at San Dimas, has guided his team to a 7-0 record and a No. 1 ranking in the Mid-Valley Division.

A former tailback at Glendora who once served as defensive coordinator at the University of La Verne, the 35-year-old Zernickow came to San Dimas in 2005 despite being told he was making a mistake.

The freshman team was 0-10 the year before he arrived. The football program had never won consecutive league titles, let alone a Southern Section championship.

"A lot of people in the district told me not to take it because it was going to be a hopeless situation," he said.

San Dimas has been more than respectable, going 9-1 last season before losing to Westlake Village Oaks Christian, 56-27, in the Northwest Division playoffs.

The team uses a Wing T offense and relies on an intimidating offensive line, led by 6-foot-6, 280-pound Kyle Salm and 6-5, 250-pound Garett Smith.

Salm, who has a 4.2 grade-point average, missed last season because of a knee injury. He has grown four inches in a year while becoming an intriguing line prospect.

"This year he's been healthy and dominant," Zernickow said.

Zernickow also is a good physical education teacher. He found one of his team's standout players, sophomore defensive back Cawatas Brown, in his P.E. class.

"You see a kid dunking in P.E., you go, 'I think he can play football for us,' " Zernickow said. "He's had three picks in the last three games."

Attendance is up at San Dimas games, and Zernickow is no longer being introduced last.

"We believe football is the greatest sport in America, and our kids are starting to play like it," he said.

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Smart decision

Javier Cid of Los Angeles Roosevelt deserves coach-of-the-week honors for his astounding strategy in a 33-21 upset victory over Los Angeles Jordan.

Cid's quarterback, Jesse Diaz, came in having passed for 1,494 yards and 14 touchdowns with one interception.

So what was Cid's game plan against Jordan? He had Diaz attempt only one pass, and it fell incomplete. The Roughriders rushed for 391 yards, which kept the ball away from Jordan's high-powered offense.

"The way you beat Jordan is by running the ball straight at them," Cid said.

It was Roosevelt's seventh consecutive victory after a season-opening loss to Torrey Pines.

And afterward, Diaz didn't mind that his passing stats took a beating.

"He loved it," Cid said. "He understands it's a team effort. He did an outstanding job managing the game. He took so much time off the clock. He was the MVP of the game."

But is Roosevelt going to pass only once in a game again?

"It's the first time and hopefully the last," Cid said.

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Career men

Harry Welch and Bill Redell continue trying to top each other.

Welch earned his 200th coaching victory when San Juan Capistrano St. Margaret's (7-0) defeated Covina Western Christian, 58-7. St. Margaret's has won 35 consecutive games. Welch's record is 200-48-2.

Redell, who used to sell insurance to Welch, earned his 190th victory when Oaks Christian (7-0) defeated Carpinteria, 56-0. Redell's record is 190-59-3.

Asked how come Welch is still ahead of him, Redell said, "He's coached 20 years longer."

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eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

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