PREP NOTES WITH A TWIST

Here are the correct answers to two of the questions that were being continuously flashed onto the scoreboard last Saturday at Edison International Field plus more on Carson Palmer's Heisman Trophy, our selection of the comeback runner of the year in cross country and more insights from the best prep notes column in the state.

•All through last Saturday's CIF Southern Section championship doubleheader at Edison International Field a series of trivia questions were flashed on the stadium's main scoreboard. After looking at a few of them, it became obvious that most of the questions and answers were taken directly out of our own Cal-Hi Sports state record book. Of course, no credit was given to us or to the efforts of my uncle, Nelson Tennis, who basically looked up most of the information that the CIFSS was using for the scoreboard. What's worse is that two of the answers that were provided were wrong. First, Chris Lewis of Long Beach Poly is not the CIFSS quarterback who holds the state career touchdown pass record at 107. That record is held by L.A. Cathedral's Robert De La Cruz with 132 (set in 1999). Second, Tyler Ebell of Ventura High did not rush for 4,495 yards last year. He did it two years ago.

Carson Palmer may have been the first player from a West Coast college in more than 20 years to win the Heisman Trophy, but it's only been four years since the last time there's been a Heisman Trophy winner from a California high school. That was 1998 when Ricky Williams of the University of Texas won the voting in a landslide. Williams attended Patrick Henry High of San Diego and at the time was the third Heisman winner from California (but not from a West Coast college) in seven years. Rashaan Salaam, the 1994 winner from the University of Colorado, played at La Jolla Country Day, while Gino Torretta, the 1992 winner from the University of Miami, is from Pinole Valley High of Pinole. Amazingly, Palmer is the first Heisman winner from a CIF Southern Section school since 1964 when John Huarte of Mater Dei won it as a quarterback from Notre Dame. Other Heisman winners from California: 1981 -- Marcus Allen (Lincoln, San Diego); 1979 -- Charles White (San Fernando); 1970 -- Jim Plunkett (James Lick, San Jose); 1968 -- O.J. Simpson (Galileo, San Francisco); 1967 -- Gary Beban (Sequoia, Redwood City); 1965 -- Mike Garrett (Roosevelt, Los Angeles); 1946 -- Glenn Davis (Bonita, La Verne).

•Palmer's Heisman Trophy is just one more reason why I'm still kicking myself for missing the 1997 Southern Section Div. V championship game. Palmer, who was first team All-State that season, led his Santa Margarita of Rancho Santa Margarita team to a wild 51-42 victory over Tustin, which had State Player of the Year DeShaun Foster. Palmer completed 19 of 30 passes against the Tillers for 413 yards and four TDs. Foster kept pace with 32 carries for 378 yards and six TDs. Foster, who was drafted last spring by the Carolina Panthers, should be an excellent NFL running back if he can ever stay injury-free for a full season or two. Palmer should be the first quarterback, if not the first player overall, picked in next spring's NFL draft.

•At the beginning of the season, Palmer's Heisman candidacy wasn't taken that seriously even by his own school. It was only after a few impressive performances in which USC started grinding out a Heisman campaign for him. Onterrio Smith and Seneca Wallace, on the other hand, were two other former California preps who received as much Heisman hype at various stages of the season as Palmer. Smith, the Oregon running back from Grant of Sacramento, never had any breakout games and was injured for the last few games. Wallace, the Iowa State option quarterback from Cordova High of Rancho Cordova, was a trendy player to wax Heisman about early in the season, especially after he led his Iowa State team past Iowa (giving the Hawkeyes their only loss). But a nightmarish outing against Oklahoma pretty much wrecked any Heisman hopes for him. Neither Smith or Wallace was in the top 10 of the final Heisman balloting. Ken Dorsey, the Miami quarterback who finished fifth in the voting, is also from California. He attended Miramonte High of Orinda.

•John Shacklett is stepping down as the head football coach at Morse of San Diego after 32 seasons. Shacklett leaves with a career record of 229-118-9, third-best in San Diego Section history. We'll always remember Shacklett's 1990 team, not so much for going unbeaten but more for the difficult choice we had to make between the Tigers and Merced for State Team of the Year (Merced got the nod).

•What in the world does spaghetti sauce have to do with high school hoops? Two top California boys teams played last week at the Smith's Ragu Classic in Utah and came home with mixed results. Preseason NorCal No. 1 Oakland Tech won its first two games, but in its third game in three nights fell to Bingham of Salt Lake City, 66-61. Leon Powe had 22 points and 12 rebounds for the Bulldogs, who led by two going into the fourth quarter but faltered down the stretch. The win helped Bingham earn the No. 1 state ranking for Utah, so the loss doesn't hurt Oakland Tech that much. Garces of Bakersfield, the preseason No. 1 team in the state for Div. IV, headed back to Kern County with three wins and a 9-0 overall record. The Rams capped their trip with a 43-35 victory over Brighton. Anthony Esparza had 19 points to lead Garces. The Ragu Classic also featured nationally-renowned DeMatha Catholic of Hyattsville, Md.

•Cross country can be such an up-and-down sport. Due to a slight injury or illness, it's quite normal to go from 45th one week to the top 10 the next. That's why our favorite runner in last week's Footlocker national championships in San Diego was Ruth Graham from Gunn of Palo Alto. Graham was a favorite at the CIF state championships in Div. II on Nov. 30, but was way back there in 40th place. She was described as being distraught in one newspaper write up of the event. In the national girls race, though, Graham was the exact opposite. She surged on the final hill at Morley Field and came in 12th overall. No California girl came in higher. The winner of the girls race was sophomore Zoe Nelson from Flathead High of Kalispell, Mont. The boys winner was Chris Solinsky from Stevens Point, Wis., who some of you might remember looked impressive in winning the 3200 last spring at the Arcadia Invitational. The top California boys finisher was Mohammed Trafeh of Duarte, who was seventh.

•San Francisco Lowell played 11 regular season football games this season because Thurgood Marshall High wasn't going to have a team, but did field one afterall. Lowell's 11 season wins was reported as a school record by the San Francisco Chronicle, but that's not so. In 1927, Lowell was 13-0 in all regular season games since the school was in no playoffs at the time. Lowell also won 11 games in 1924 and 1938. Lowell's 13-0 mark for 1927 is the all-time state record for best regular season record and was the state's best overall mark until Santa Ana tied it in 1931. Lowell claimed 14-0 at the time, but that included a Lowell second team win over Tracy. The first 14-0 team in state history was Edison of Huntington Beach in 1980. The first and only 15-0 team is Bishop Amat of La Puente for 1992.

•Foothill of Sacramento was the winner of last weekend's Gridley tourney, which was significant since preseason state top 10 Vallejo also was in the event. Foothill defeated Vallejo, 70-64, in the semifinals and received 26 pts from Chris Walker in a 64-56 triumph in the final over Lincoln of San Francisco.


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