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Monrovia's Ellis McCarthy has credentials to complement imposing figure

Senior lineman, 6 feet 4 and 305 pounds, has 25 sacks the last two seasons and is aiming to help the Wildcats repeat as Southern Section champions.

August 29, 2011|Eric Sondheimer

"Oh, my God."

That was the plea of impending doom from a Monrovia High football player as he suddenly realized his body was about to be twisted by the powerful hands and arms of 6-foot-4, 305-pound teammate Ellis McCarthy during a strip-the-ball drill.

When it comes to playing the role of an intimidating football player, McCarthy is the perfect choice. He had 14 sacks as a junior lineman when Monrovia won its first Southern Section championship last season and had 11 sacks as a sophomore.

Whether walking around campus wearing a tank top or shoulder pads, McCarthy gets respect.

"He's built like a man," Coach Ryan Maddox said.

And yet he turned 17 in July, which makes him a teenager much in demand by college recruiters. He can run a 4.9-second 40-yard dash. He bench-presses 335 pounds, and when you see him push around people in practice as if they were pieces of paper, it makes you wonder whether he could duplicate the feat from the movie "Blind Side" in which the star offensive tackle blocks his man all way into the bleachers.

"He's a handful," Maddox said.

McCarthy is the pride of Monrovia, having lived in his neighborhood from birth. His mother and father each attended Monrovia.

"Everyone knows everyone," he said.

He has a good idea of what's right and what's wrong, making him well-liked and well-appreciated. He said it's "not very hard" to be humble, because that's what his parents have taught him to be.

"He's very well-grounded," Maddox said.

On the field, he's a giant, using his size and quickness to be disruptive on defense. Even when he's not making a play, he's probably influencing what's happening, taking on two and three blockers to open the way for a Monrovia linebacker to make the play.

"He demands a double team, and sometimes teams will triple-team him," Maddox said.

McCarthy said he has no sympathy for the smaller players about to become his victims. It's part of football, where being physical is rewarded. He started playing when he was 8.

"I couldn't play flag football because they said I was too big, so I had to go up [a grade level] one year," he said.

His agility and versatility make him unusual for a big man. He also can play tight end, but defense is where his future lies.

"He's a kid who makes plays not just at the line of scrimmage but 15 yards down," Maddox said. "He plays from the snap until the time the whistle blows."

Monrovia opened a new football stadium last season, just in time to end its 0-for-9 drought in championship games. The Wildcats won the Mid Valley Division title, and McCarthy enjoyed the reaction of the community.

"It means a lot," he said. "We brought something that Monrovia hasn't been able to do."

His goals for 2011 are to help the Wildcats repeat as champions, along with trying to get up close and personal with the opposing quarterback.

"Pass rushing is my favorite thing on the D-line," he said. "Throwing a move or trying to get around a defender and sacking someone is exciting."

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

twitter.com/latsondheimer

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