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SUMMER PASSING TOURNAMENTS KEEP GETTING BIGGER.

Byline: Patrick Hipes Daily News Staff Writer

Following pet rocks and hula hoops and bell-bottomed pants, the Southern California high schools bring you the latest hot fad: passing leagues.

Some summer-passing teams play in as many as six tournaments over the next month and attendance at all of them is rising.

``Ours is going to be the biggest one yet,'' said Valley College football coach Gary Barlow, who is coordinating this weekend's Monarch Air Tournament.

``Two years ago we had 32 teams, last year 36 teams and this will have 40 teams. It's starting to pick up steam.''

At the Valley College tournament, teams from all over the region are participating - from Palmdale to Crenshaw and Venice to Artesia. More and more, coaches jump at the opportunity to see next year's players against teams they wouldn't normally see.

``You just look for competition and how kids compete,'' said Hart High coach Mike Herrington, who expanded his Hart High Passing Tournament two weeks ago to 20 teams because of a record-number of applicants.

The Monarch tourney is monstrous in just its sixth incarnation. It is sponsored by Reebok and 10 fields will be used at once.

``It's been a real positive for us,'' said Barlow, a former NFL lineman beginning his second year as Valley's head coach. ``Every team that passes is here. It's great to see.''

In the Monarch Air format, each team plays three games in Friday's round-robin matchups. Saturday's schedule will be based on records from the day before and will be bracketed in a tourney format leading to a championship game.

``You get to see a variety of teams and players,'' Barlow said. ``It's always a really good weekend all the way around.''
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Title Annotation:SPORTS
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jul 9, 1998
Words:286
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