Taft on Track

Woodland Hills school ready to roll in football and now comes word that the fastest man in the world will be helping out the track team.

Yes, it's fast times at Taft High of Woodland Hills. The CIF L.A. City Section school will field one of the top football teams in California this season and the boys track program just received notice that Olympic gold medalist and world record holder Maurice Greene has agreed to serve as an assistant coach.

Steve Smith, the top returning football player for the Toreadors, can be seen on newsstands throughout the West as he's on the cover of the first Student Sports/The Sporting News High School Football Annual and Recruiting Guide. Smith was one of five cover subjects chosen for the annual, along with Ernie Sims of Tallahassee, Fla.; Lamar Woodley of Saginaw, Mich.; Chris Leak of Charlotte, N.C.; and Drew Tate of Baytown, Texas.

Smith has caught 184 passes in his career so far at Taft for 3,209 yards and 30 touchdowns. Those numbers should be high again this fall as quarterback Cary Dove also is among the team's returnees. On defense, Taft should be tough, too, especially with 6-3, 215-pound Lance Broaddus coming back.

Smith also is on the school's track team and this spring will be able to show his strides to Greene, who won gold at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. Greene is a good friend of Taft coach Quincy Watts (yes, that's the same Watts who has won gold and held the world record in the 400) and called him recently to say he wanted to help out.

"When the world's fastest man says he wants to be a coach, you don't ask too many questions," Watts told the L.A. Daily News. "He's always been very supportive of Taft athletics."

Watts recently took over the Taft track program (the same one he competed for when he was in high school from 1986-88) for Troy Starr and has already made a difference.

It also has been reported that Muir High of Pasadena running back and sprinter Ian Bell will be transferring to Taft for the upcoming school year. He should fit in nicely to add a rushing threat to the passing game in football and in track should join Steve Smith, Noah Smith and Mike Pratt for the nucleus of the team that should contend for the CIF state team title.

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