NOTES : TAFT DEFENSE: `WE CAN FLAT OUT FLY'.
Sending a powerful message that it intendsto challenge for a City Section 4-A championship this season, Taft High School's football team unleashed a super-quick defensive unit Friday night that figures to make life miserable for opposing quarterbacks.
With 400-meter runner Sedric Hurns rushing from one outside linebacker position and the speedy Donte Morgan charging from the other side, Sylmar quarterback Chris Cervantes was sacked four times in a 30-6 Taft rout.
It's the fastest Taft defensive unit in coach Troy Starr's five years at the Woodland Hills campus. Not only do the outside linebackers run like track sprinters, but so do the defensive backs. Cornerbacks Damon Coleman and Jaron Lawson can cover anybody man-to-man, and free safety Keith Johnson does the rest.
``We can flat out fly,'' Starr said. ``It allows us to play a pressure defense because we can cover. Keith Johnson is a Pac-10 player. He's the guy if we make a mistake, he covers.''
The early signs of Taft's defensive potential showed up in summer passing leagues, where Coleman and his fellow defensive backs were competing and beating the best receivers around.
``That's what we worked on all summer - speed, coverage and stopping the run,'' Coleman said. ``This win is sending a message, but it's not that big because we knew we could do it.''
Taft quarterback Nick DiPadova was enjoying every minute of his time watching the Toreadors' defensive unit shut down the Spartans.
``The defense is sweet,'' he said. ``They look so good. And no, I wouldn't want to play against them.''
Taft is loaded with all-around athletes. Ryan Long, a transfer from Faith Baptist who's a top baseball player, was impressive pulling down passes at wide receiver. And Hurns, a receiver last season, used his speed to rush for 147 yards on 13 carries with two touchdowns. Now it's clear why Starr was willing to get jettison Donald Carpenter, a 1,255-yard rusher, and replace him with Hurns.
``It felt good,'' Hurns said. ``It's my permanent position.
The big question: Everybody wondered if the absence of Sylmar coach Jeff Engilman Friday night affected his team's performance.
``Do they miss Engilman, or do they miss Durell Price and Gerrod Taylor?'' Starr asked.
Engilman is banned from attending Sylmar's first two games because of rule violations. Asked about the impact of Engilman not being on the sideline, Sylmar defensive backs coach Damon Burnley said, ``It had everything to do with the the loss tonight. We were confused. We had personnel problems - we just had too many problems.''
Ineligible: Taft has lost one of its four top transfer students. Receiver Krys Fields, a transfer from Cleveland, was declared ineligible before the game.
Super sophomore: Keep track of Taft sophomore offensive tackle Chris Garlington, who's 6-foot-3, weighs 245 pounds and more than held his own in his varsity debut Friday.
PHOTO Charles Mason (78), attempting to block a punt, was o ne of many from Taft's defense was had superb outings.
Jeremy Greene / Special to the Daily News
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Sep 13, 1996|
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