As he was watching the USC-UCLA football on TV last Saturday night, Bishop Diego football coach Tom Crawford couldn’t help but notice the young, undersized linebackers of USC and how hard they played.
To him, it was like watching his linebacking crew of Christian Pearson, Adrian Solis and Thomas Lash. They’re all sophomores and weigh under 200 pounds, and they are a big reason why the Cardinals have advanced to the semifinals of the CIF East Valley Division playoffs.
Bishop will play Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth on Friday night at Granada Hills High.
Crawford brought his “Kiddie Corps” linebacking trio to Monday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table press luncheon.
“I was reminded of these three guys watching the USC-UCLA game and watching the size of USC’s young, freshman linebackers — very undersized for college ball,” Crawford said. “I thought of these three guys because of how competitive and football smart they are.”
Pearson is listed at 5-8, 180 pounds, Lash, 6-foot, 170 and Solis, 5-8, 155.
Crawford related a humorous conversation he had with Solis.
“He asked me if I thought he was the smallest linebacker in the division,” Crawford said. “I hesitated … he’s close. He’s also one of fastest and toughest linebackers in the division. We know that for sure. He makes a lot of big plays as an outside backer for us.”
Pearson had a big impact in the Cardinals’ 21-14 quarterfinal win at Twentynine Palms, making nine solo tackles and assisting on 11 years.
“He was in on 20 tackles, which is an enormous accomplishment,” said Crawford
Pearson was honored for his performance by being named Male Athlete of the Week.
Lash was the team’s leading tackler before a knee injury ended his season three weeks ago.
“Our young kids have stepped up and competed intensely throughout the year and done just a great job,” said Crawford, who noted that he’s started as many as eight sophomores on defense.
“Our success this year is in no small part due to the work of our sophomores and these three guys in particular,” he said.
Crawford said Sierra Canyon is the top-seeded team and eturns all but two players from a team that lost in the East Valley Division final last year.
“We certainly got a challenge in front of us, but one thing I know is our kids will compete, and we’re looking forward to that challenge on Friday.”
Other luncheon highlights:
Westmont men’s basketball coach John Moore said the day after Thanksgiving was “black and blue Friday for his Warriors” when it played Cal Maritime at the Menlo College tournament.
He said with 10 minutes left in the first half starter C.J. Miller got hit in the mouth by the elbow of a Cal Maritime player and lost a tooth.
“There was blood everywhere,” he described. “Unfortunately for C.J. his tooth popped out. It took 10 minutes to find the tooth. It was off in one corner. (Apparently) it was embedded in that player’s elbow and he swept it out with a towel.”
Moore said he wasn’t sure if Miller would play on Tuesday night when the Warriors host Azusa Pacific in the GSAC opener.
Both teams enter the game with 6-1 records.
“It will be a fabulous game,” said Moore.
—The Westmont women also play Azusa Pacific, which is the defending national champion and ranked No. 1 in the NAIA.
“We’re excited to play them on our home court and play well against them,” said coach Kirsten Moore.
The Warriors are coming off a 30-point win, which took the sting off their first loss of the season: a four-point decision against perennial NAIA power Southern Nazarene of Oklahoma.
“Their coach told me it was the best they played all year to beat us,” Moore said.
—UCSB baseball coach Andrew Checketts made his first visit to the luncheon and was greeted with a nice applause.
He said his first recruiting class of 15 players has a chance to be a top-20 class, “if the (pro baseball) draft ends up treating us nicely.”
—Aaron Solis, student activities director at San Marcos, said the Royals have a new boys soccer coach in Matt Winecki.
Speaking for the coach, Solis said the team will be very young but talented. “We’ll have mostly sophomores and juniors starting, so our success will be based on how fast our young players mature and how they blend with the established veterans.”
—The SBCC men’s soccer team is making its first trip to the State Final Four since 1998 after playoff wins over Rio Hondo (3-0) and Golden West (2-0 in overtime) last week.
Dave Loveton, the school’s sports information specialist, said the Vaqueros will be playing Hartnell, the No. 1 seed from Northern California, on Friday at Cosumnes River College in Sacramento.
“They lead the state in goals with 95,” Loveton said. “We’ve allowed 18 goals, so something has to give. Hopefully, it’s our defense that doesn’t do the giving.”