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110 POUNDS OF WARRIOR - EACH.

Byline: GERRY GITTELSON

Two hundred and twenty pounds is about right for a good high school football player these days. But for two players combined?

Meet Valencia High's 110-pound varsity football bookends, Johan Sluss and Paul Delgadillo. Neither has played in a game yet, but both have David's body and Goliath's heart.

Even major-college prospect Alex Gottlieb, Valencia's 6-foot-5, 280- pound lineman, doesn't ease up against them during practice drills. Teammate Desmond Blair has seen it with his own eyes.

``Eventually they fall, but they get right back and hit back. Johan and Paul have our utmost respect,'' Blair said. ``They work hard just like everybody else, and they never stop coming or slack off. You look at them walking around on campus and kind of think they shouldn't be out there - until they get on the field.

``They're not on the team just for decoration.''

Both played on the JV as sophomores last season, so they're beginning to know what they're doing.

``They get out there and they really get after it,'' coach Brian Stiman said. ``I think it's a great story. They're pretty tough.''

--Speaking of Valencia: The Vikings haven't exactly been the force many expected. After reaching the Southern Section Division III final for the second time in three years last season, they've struggled to a 2-2 start and have given up four touchdowns in each of the past three games.

I called coach Stiman on Monday morning and suggested his best player, running back Charles Burnley, should play defense, too. Hart's premier starters play both ways, why not Valencia's?

``How weird,'' Stiman replied. ``Charles came into my office right before you called and said the same thing. He wants to play defense.''

Stiman's concern is the amount of punishment Burnley would endure. For instance, Burnley carried the football 28 times and recovered an onside kick during Friday's loss at Arroyo Grande.

``Charles already has been dinged up quite a bit. But it's a big maybe right now,'' Stiman said.

At this point, Stiman is willing to try anything. He said he also might insert Gottlieb and quarterback Stephen Wright (who was an All-Daily News defensive back last year) on defense, too.

``Those guys have to be on the field because we've just been coming up short,'' Stiman said.

--Forget it: College of the Canyons' new public relations office has suggested that high-profile softball pitcher Christina Lupacchini might play for the team this year.

``It remains to be seen ...'' is how it was put in a press release.

The whole thing sounded fishy, though, because Lupacchini's chronic sore back prevented her from accepting scholarships to such universities as Hawaii and San Diego State after a stellar - though injury-filled - four-year career at Chaminade High in West Hills.

Why, then, would she pitch for College of the Canyons? Actually, she wouldn't.

``I'm not playing, period,'' Lupacchini said Sunday. ``I'm just hanging out with the team and I'm enrolled in softball class. I'm in way too much pain to pitch this season.''

--When is the Saugus High football team's defense going to show up? The Centurions (0-4) have given up 37 points or more in three of their four losses, including a 44-7 defeat to St. Bonaventure of Ventura on Saturday.

There is reason for optimism, at least according to head coach Ron Hilton. He points out that seven underclassmen, including three linebackers, are starting on defense.

``Plus we've played some very good teams. We knew it was going to be a tough preseason,'' Hilton said.

--The natural: Promising Saugus High softball player Melanie De Leon has decided to concentrate full time on golf, and she appears to be a natural. She shot a 2-over-par 39 in a nonleague victory over Burroughs of Burbank at Woodley Lakes in Van Nuys last week, helping Saugus to a 9-0 start, its best in the program's four-year history.

``Melanie has only been playing golf for a little over a year but she's really good,'' coach John Molecek said.

--Quite a streak: A bunch of the players on Valencia High's 4-0 JV football team repeatedly chanted, ``14-0! 14-0!,'' after beating Arroyo Grande last week, and I couldn't figure out what they meant. The score was 19-0, and I was sure they knew there are only 10 games in the season - and no playoffs for JV.

Then it dawned on me: Most of the kids played on last year's 10-0 frosh team, so they've never lost in 14 high school football games.

--Just asking:Whatever happened to male high school cheerleaders?

--And finally: Can someone explain why a finger injury kept Thousand Oaks kicker Troy Krill out of last Friday's game against Simi Valley?

CAPTION(S):

photo

Photo:

Valencia High's Paul Delgadillo, left, and Johan Sluss, right, don't back down against 280-pounders such as Alex Gottlieb.

John Lazar/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Oct 9, 2002
Words:805
Previous Article:THE MASTER'S: MUSTANGS READY FOR SOFTBALL TEST AT STOCKTON.
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