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Eric Sondheimer / ON HIGH SCHOOLS

Hall gives USC a silver lining

September 27, 2008|Eric Sondheimer

If USC Coach Pete Carroll wants something to cheer him up after his team's upset loss to Oregon State, all he needs to do is watch the highlight tape of the 82-yard touchdown run Friday night by his future Trojan player, Patrick Hall of Ventura St. Bonaventure.

Weaving in and out, then slipping tackles and turning on the speed, Hall pulled off a YouTube moment that made Encino Crespi defensive players look slow and helpless.

"It was beautiful," St. Bonaventure Coach Todd Therrien said.

And Hall is supposed to be a defensive back for the Trojans. He also had a 53-yard touchdown run to help St. Bonaventure (4-0), ranked No. 6 by The Times, rout No. 3-ranked Crespi, 31-14, at Ventura High.

St. Bonaventure, like USC, has so many running backs that Hall rarely gets to carry more than 10 times in a game. He had four carries for 145 yards. He also had an interception and was part of a defense that three times intercepted passes by Crespi quarterback Bryan Bennett, who completed nine of 26 for 76 yards. Cody Kurz returned an interception 38 yards for a touchdown.

Hall is no glory hound. He was supposed to be St. Bonaventure's No. 1 running back last season. Then Darrell Scott checked in from Moorpark, and Hall accepted his role as a backup.

He enjoyed his long sprint into the end zone.

"I knew I had it in me," he said. "It was a matter of time before I let it out."

It was an important victory for St. Bonaventure, last year's CIF state Division III bowl champion. The Seraphs have a bye next week before taking on top-ranked Long Beach Poly on Oct. 10 at Veterans Stadium.

A win against the Jackrabbits could propel them into contention for the new open division bowl game.

There were plenty of people in Ventura County who predicted that St. Bonaventure's powerful football program would suffer a talent slippage and start to lose games after longtime Coach Jon Mack left for the junior college ranks.

So will someone please explain how his replacement, the 29-year-old Therrien, in his second season, keeps elevating the Seraphs week after week?

"He's passionate and expects that same kind of commitment from everybody," Mack said. "He's doing a great job."

By avenging its only defeat from last season, St. Bonaventure cleared the way for two weeks of focus in preparation for Long Beach Poly.

"They're big, strong and fast," Therrien said. "It's not rocket science. We have to stop the run."

It's startling how smoothly Therrien has picked up where Mack left off. Mack won seven section titles in 17 years and had a 163-47-1 record at St. Bonaventure. Therrien is 18-1 in less than two seasons. Some wondered whether he was the right person for the job because he sometimes gets a little too excited on the sideline.

"I played under him and coached under him," Therrien said about Mack. "I cut my teeth in coaching sleeping on his couch."

If a team is reflective of its coach's personality, then St. Bonaventure's defense this season sure fits Therrien's profile in terms of energy and enthusiasm.

The Seraphs came out and sent a message to Crespi with a couple hard hits administered by linebackers Xavier Ramos and P.J. Gremaud.

It's always good in a big game when players early on let their counterparts know they mean business. That was what St. Bonaventure did, and the Celts (3-1) never responded in an uninspiring first half that left them trailing, 10-0, at halftime. To top it off, St. Bonaventure showed lots of quickness on defense with Hall, Ramos, cornerback Troy Hill and physical linebacker Dylan Davis.

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eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

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