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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, September 6, 2002

Iolani faces one of top quarterbacks in nation

By Wes Nakama
Advertiser Staff Writer

Prep football doubleheader

WHO: Pac-Five vs. Beverly Hills (Calif.) at 5 p.m., followed by Iolani vs. Edison (Huntington Beach, Calif.) at about 7:30
WHEN: Tonight
WHERE: Aloha Stadium
TICKETS: General admission, $7 for adults, $3 for students

For many high school football fans itching to see Hawai'i's best take on two top Mainland programs, Sept. 21 cannot come soon enough.

But they at least can whet their appetites tonight at Aloha Stadium, when Pac-Five and Iolani meet two strong teams from Southern California. Pac-Five will play Beverly Hills at 5, followed by Iolani vs. Edison (Huntington Beach) at about 7:30.

The doubleheader is a prelude to the First Hawaiian Bank Classic on Sept. 21, when St. Louis and Kahuku will go head-to-head with nationally ranked De La Salle (Concord, Calif.) and Long Beach (Calif.) Poly.

The two California teams playing tonight are not nationally ranked, but are highly respected nonetheless. And Edison features quarterback Tommy Grady, regarded as one of the nation's top college prospects.

Beverly Hills made the playoffs last year in the California Interscholastic Federation's Southern Section Division III (third-largest level). The CIF Southern Section has 13 divisions and over 400 schools.

A good indication of the kind of talent coming out of Beverly Hills might be two players who are no longer there. Leon Jackson, the starting quarterback at powerhouse Long Beach Poly, transferred from Beverly Hills last year.

Lorenzo Bursey, Long Beach Poly's starting tailback, rushed for more than 1,000 yards for Beverly Hills last season. Long Beach Poly is ranked No. 4 in the nation by USA Today.

Edison, meanwhile, is not far out of Long Beach Poly's class. Edison's only loss last year came in the CIF Southern Section Division I championship game, a 42-28 defeat to Poly.

Edison, 11-1-1 last year, went 9-3 in 2000 and 7-3 in 1999. The Chargers play perennial power Mater Dei (Santa Ana) every season and compete in the same league as Los Alamitos, another powerhouse.

"They've got a real good program, and their kids have been up against the best," Iolani coach Wendell Look said.

Some observers say Grady, who already has committed to play for Oklahoma, is the best quarterback on the West Coast. He completed 61 percent of his passes last season for 2,791 yards and 33 touchdowns, with only three interceptions.

"This guy is real poised and polished, and he's real accurate," said Look, who watched film of Grady. "He's a true dropback passer, and he can pick people apart with all kinds of passes. He's the real deal."

Edison coach Dave White, however, said the Chargers return only one other offensive starter and have only three starters back on defense.

"That team we had last year was our best in 16 years," said White, in his 17th season as Edison's head coach. "But we lost a lot from that group."

Iolani, 7-2 last year, looked impressive in defeating Radford 48-20 in its opener two weeks ago. The Raiders' junior running back tandem of Raynold Stowers and Kelly Teramoto combined for 313 yards and five touchdowns on 30 carries behind an offensive line that opened huge holes on traps and counters.

"The line is going to be our strength, especially if they continue to progress," Look said. "This will be a good test for us."

EXTRA POINTS: This is Edison's sixth trip to Hawai'i in the past 20 years, having won the previous five games. The Chargers played Punahou in 1982, St. Anthony in 1986, Iolani in 1990, Damien in 1993 and Punahou again in 1999. They spent the whole week here, mixing sightseeing with practices at Kapi'olani Park. "It's great for our players," White said. "It's a great bonding experience, a way to build camaraderie. We went to Pearl Harbor, we do a luau at Germaine's, the kids go snorkeling at Hanauma Bay. We like it here." ... Current University of Hawai'i receiver Denny Flanagan was one of Grady's primary targets last year, catching 65 passes for 1,200 yards and 20 touchdowns. Another UH recruit, A.J. Martinez, won Los Angeles Times and Orange County Register Back of the Year honors for the Chargers last season.