Prep Sports: Hofstra, Loyola, Delaware all want Forrest

Note: My 2008 profile of BHHS Lacrosse player Nathan Forrest for The Beverly Hills Courier

By Chris H. Sieroty
BEVERLY HILLS – Nathan Forrest was in eighth grade looking for something to do between football and soccer season, when his older brother, Sam, suggested playing lacrosse.

“I tried it and immediately fell in love with playing lacrosse,” Forrest told The Courier following a recent game against Downey High School at Nickoll Field. “It’s a great sport that’s creative and really physical. It’s become my favorite sport.”

Forrest, a junior, tallied 67 goals and 28 assists for Beverly Hills High School during the regular season. As a sophomore, he scored 54 goals and registered 26 assists for the Normans.

An outstanding sophomore season brought Forrest a lot of attention from college coaches and invitations to play for traveling teams and attend blue chip lacrosse camps.

He was asked to play for the Hollywood Starz and earned an invite to Jake Reed’s Blue Chip Lacrosse Camp. In August, Inside Lacrosse magazine named Forrest the 24th ranked junior in the country. In June, Forrest is expected to attend Nike Blue Chip Senior Lacrosse Camp held at University of Maryland, Baltimore County, near Baltimore.

Normans’ head coach Tim Ray described Forrest as one of the best players on the West Coast. Hofstra, Loyola and Delaware are currently recruiting him to play lacrosse.

“It is unfortunate that he doesn’t have the level of competition out here that will help him get better,” Ray said. “When you can play on a team where you aren’t the best player on the field, that is the time you get better. I’m sure some of the camps over the summer will help him take that next step.”

Scott Witkin, a former Division 1 coach at Gannon University in Erie, Pa., and now the head coach at Downey, said Forrest has the “talent to be as good as he wants to be.”

“He has what it takes to be successful at the next level,” Witkin told The Courier after an 11-6 loss to Beverly Hills.

Forrest was expected to sign a letter of intent before his senior year begins in September. When he does, Forrest told The Courier he would give up playing football and soccer to concentrate on lacrosse.

“When I commit, I’ve decided to drop football and soccer in my senior year because I don’t want to get hurt,” he said. “Lacrosse is what got me to the next level.”

Forrest, as a junior, played linebacker, wide receiver and even quarterback. He had five receptions for 47 yards and one touchdown. In a 28-26 win over Santa Monica (Oct. 19) he got his chance at quarterback, completing two passes for eight yards.

On defense, he averaged 5.3 tackles a game, twice during the season against Mira Costa and Morningside he tallied 12 tackles.

“He’s a good athlete,” Beverly High head football coach and athletic director Carter Paysinger said. “If (we) lose any of our guys there is going to be a period of adjustment. Nathan has to do what is best for him.”

His dedication to lacrosse was proven after a Nov. 2 football game against Morningside.

Beverly Hills won the Ocean League game 28-27, after Forrest and David Saedi kept Monarch running back Brian Nam from converting a two-point conversion with less than two minutes left in the fourth quarter. When the game was over, Forrest was rushed to Los Angeles International Airport to catch an overnight flight to Baltimore to attend a lacrosse camp.

“I didn’t even get a chance to take a shower after the game,” he said. “I thought I’d at least get a chance to take a shower and sleep for a couple of hours when I got there, but I had to attend the camp (first thing in the morning).”

Forrest played lacrosse all weekend before flying back to Los Angeles to be in class on Monday morning.

“It’s was a lot of work, but worth it,” he said. “(Lacrosse) has opened so many doors to great schools who are interested in me.”

All the attention does have consequences, according to Ray.

“We are thrilled to have him playing for us and for him and the team getting the press,” he said. “The downside is other teams feed off that hype and try to use it against him. The second he slips up or makes a mistake you can hear the other team and their fans getting on him with the ‘over rated’ comments.”

The Beverly Hills High School lacrosse team has been extremely successful in three years as a varsity program. Ray said in the program’s first year, the Normans reached the final four in the playoffs, which was followed by a loss to Palos Verdes last year in the Bay League Championship game.

In last year’s inaugural title game at the Home Depot Center, Santa Ana Foothill rebounded from a five-goal deficit and held on in the closing seconds to beat Palos Verdes, 11-10.

“This year we are back in the Bay League Championship and we are looking to bring it home,” he said.
The CIF Southern Section doesn’t conduct official playoffs for lacrosse, or any other sport, unless 20 percent of its member schools participate. This year’s championship game between the Orange County and the North Division boys’ champions is scheduled for May 9 at Mission Viejo Trabuco Hills.

On Saturday, Beverly Hills High School will host the 2008 Southern Section North Division playoffs. At 5 p.m., Beverly Hills will play Loyola, followed by Chaminade against Downey at 7 p.m.

The winner of the Beverly Hills, Loyola game will play Palos Verdes in the semi-finals Monday at 7 p.m. at Beverly High. The finals are scheduled for Wednesday at Mira Costa High School.

Ray said he sees interest in the sport continuing to grow in Southern California as junior varsity teams prepare players to make the switch to varsity. Palos Verdes High School’s junior varsity hasn’t lost a game in two years, while Mira Costa has one of the better junior varsity programs, he said.

“Once the fall and winter coaches at Beverly (High) realize it is a great spring sport for their athletes to play in order to keep in game shape, we’ll be behind those programs,” Ray said. “We’ve been fortunate over the last few years to be still riding off our strong middle school program from a few years ago, but it has been fading.”

He said the school’s junior varsity team hasn’t won a game in two years, while the middle school program fielded a team this season with only eight players.

“Right now I’m worried about our future success of the program,” Ray said. “Unless we have the support and encouragement from the football and basketball coaches we’ll be playing catch up for years. I’m hopeful that with the help of the other coaches we’ll be able to tap into the athlete talent pool at the school and continue to build our foundation at the school.”

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Donald Paysinger takes over as head coach of Beverly Hills

By Chris H. Sieroty

The Beverly Hills High School football team began fall practice on Monday with a new head coach for the first time in 19 years. Donald Paysinger, a longtime assistant coach with the Normans, replaces his older brother Carter Paysinger.

Carter Paysinger, who coached Beverly Hills since 1990, resigned following an 8-4 season to concentrate on being an assistant principal at the school. He has said he will continue to help call plays during gams and develop game plans on the weekends. 

Donald Paysinger, a 1977 Beverly High graduate, was Santa Monica High School’s football coach from 1998 to 1999, leading the Vikings to a 2-8 record each season.

Paysinger was also a graduate assistant coach at San Jose State University and coached with the San Francisco 49ers during training camp in 2004 in connection with the National Football League’s Minority Fellowship Program.

“The reason I applied for the job was simple, we needed a head coach,” Paysinger said. “If I’m going to be involved with the team, I thought I could do a good job as head coach. I’ve been coaching for 29 years.”

The Normans aren’t the only Ocean League team adjusting to a new coach. Jahmal Wright takes over for Tom Salter at Culver City and Travis Clark succeeds Zach Cuda at Santa Monica. Wright was an assistant for Salter, who declared him his designated successor before he step down at the end of the last season. 

Culver City was 7-3 last season and captured the 2008 league championship with a 57-27 win on Nov. 14 over Beverly Hills. The Centaurs lost to Alemany of Mission Hills, 31-15, in the second round of the CIF Southern Section playoffs.

Clark prepared by being an assistant to Norm Lacy on CIF championship teams at both Santa Monica and St. Monica. Lacy is now Santa Monica High’s athletic director and hired Clark over the summer. Cuda, who coached Santa Monica for three years, resigned following an 8-3 season and remains as a teacher at the high school.

Santa Monica’s only losses last season were to Culver City and Beverly Hills in league games and Warren High School in Downey in the first round of the CIF Southern Section playoffs. Santa Monica has lost four straight games to Beverly Hills. Last year, the Normans defeated the Vikings, 26-10.

The 2009 schedule is almost the same as last year’s. The only difference is that Beverly Hills plays Hamilton High School this year instead of Marshfield High School from Massachusetts. In non-league play the Normans will also face Long Beach Jordan, Santa Barbara, West Ranch and Desert Hot Springs.

Last year, Beverly Hills defeated Santa Barbara, West Ranch and Desert Hot Springs but lost to Marshfield and Jordan. 

In Ocean League play, the Normans main competition for the league title will probably come from Culver City and Santa Monica. After a 5-5 season last year, Inglewood was expected to challenge for a CIF playoff position despite the loss of several key players, Morningside was expected to be in the middle-of-the-pack and Hawthorne is in the middle of a 32-game losing streak and hasn’t won since 2005.

“It’s going to be a tough league again this season,” Paysinger said. “Santa Monica and Culver City are going to be tough, while Inglewood always plays us hard. Morningside gave us a tough game last season. It’s going to be a coin toss again to see who wins the league. There are four or five teams shooting for three playoff positions.”

According to preseason rankings compiled by Calpreps.com, Culver City was expected to repeat as Ocean League champions, followed by Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Inglewood, Morningside and Hawthorne. The high school sports website ranked Beverly Hills 13th overall in the CIF Southern Section’s Western Division.

On the field, Paysinger said the Normans will be led by four key players. Junior Josh Newman replaces Dex Lucci, who graduated last year, at quarterback. Last season Newman was 13 for 25 for 166 yards and three interceptions in two games.  

Kenny Bassett, who rushed for 1,414 yards as a junior, and senior wide receiver Daniel Bradbury were expected contribute heavily to the Normans offense, he said.

On Defense, junior defensive end Greg Townsend Jr. was expected to improve on last season’s 38 tackles.

“Both Josh Newman and Kenny Bassett started for us last year and played very well,” Paysinger said. “We are a young team, but the good thing is a host of kids played for us at some point last season. I think with Newman, Bassett, Bradbury and Townsend we’ll be alright this season.”

Beverly Hills will play its opener Sept. 11 at Nickoll Field against Long Beach Jordan. The Panthers, who tied for second place with Compton and Lakewood in the Moore League, defeated Beverly Hills, 28-13, in the opening week of the 2008 season.


Sports News & Notes

UPDATE: Harvey released by Kansas City T-Bones

KANSAS CITY, Kan., – Former Kansas City Royals All-Star Ken Harvey was released June 2 by the Kansas City T-Bones.

Harvey, who is hitting .351 on the season with one homer and seven runs batted in, was released along with John Urick. Harvey was instrumental in last year’s run for the Northern League championship winning T-Bones and was re-signed during the offseason.

But he and other members of the lineup have been in a prolonged slump. Replacing Harvey is Greg Jacobs, who played for the T-Bones early in the season last year.

“It was a tough relase,” T-Bones manager Andy McCauley told the Kansas City Star. “The Northern League has certain roster parameters and there’s a salary cap. We did it to afford Greg Jacobs and Neb Brown. It came down to a veteran pinch and a numbers cruch with the cap, as it does so often.

“Ken Harvey is one of the best players in the league,” McCauley told the Star. “But in order to get two for one, it’s a tradeoff we had to make. We get more flexibility as Neb can play left and Ken is pretty much relegated to first base and DH. Of course, he did it better than anyone in the league. He was just the odd man out in this situation. He’s a great guy and he’ll catch on somewhere else.”

Harvey, a 1995 Beverly Hills High School graduate, hit .341 with five home runs in August to help lead the T-Bones to the 2008 Northern League championship. In 11 games this season, Harvey, who plays first base, is batting .351 with three doubles, a home run and five RBIs.

He was originally drafted in the fifth round by the Kansas City Royals in 1999 amateur draft and was a member of the organization until he was released in 2005. He was named to the 2004 American League All-Star team as a Royal

Harvey played in 271 major league games with the Royals from 2001 to 2005. He is a career .274 hitter at the major league level with 27 home runs, including a career-high 13 each in 2003 and 2004.  He has also compiled 126 RBI throughout his big league career.

On Dec. 8, 2006, Harvey signed a minor league contract with the Minnesota Twins with an invitation to spring training. He opted for minor league free agency on Nov. 3, 2007.

He signed with the T-Bones on June 11, 2008.

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Skaggs taken by L.A. Angeles.

SANTA MONICA – Tyler Skaggs of Santa Monica High School was selected by the Los Angeles Angels with the 40th pick in the Major League Baseball draft on Tuesday. Skaggs, who had been considered a possible first round selection, was take by the Angels in the compensation round and was the team’s third draft pick of the day.

Skaggs, who turns 18 on July 13, is 6-5, 180 pounds with a fastball in the 90s and a quality curve. Hampered by an ankle injury, he was 2-3 with a 1.60 ERA as a senior, striking out 12 three times in nine appearances. He was the Ocean League MVP as a junior. 

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UPDATE: Santa Monica baseball’s Duron resigns

SANTA MONICA – Rob Duron, head coach of Santa Monica High School’s varsity baseball team, confirmed Monday that he had resigned his position effective last month. Duron, who has been a teacher at Santa Monica since 1987, said he submitted a letter of resignation to athletic director Norm Lacy thanking him for all his support and turned in his keys two days after his team’s playoff loss. 

On May 26, the Vikings lost 3-1 to Los Altos in the second round of the Division III California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section playoffs. 

Duron took issue with Lacy’s statement that coaching was a hobby for many coaches at the high school and that he was burned out after two years as head baseball coach.

“I’m not burned out,” he said. “Coaching is a full-time job that you don’t get paid a lot of money to do. You do it because you want to teach the kids something that you’ve learned.”

In an interview last week, Lacy said Duron had just resigned. “He had been under a lot of pressure, spent a lot of time coaching and didn’t get paid a lot. It’s a burn out factor,” he said. “It’s unfortunate. Parents have to remember it’s high school sports. This is not professional sports. Coaching is a hobby for many of us that we do in addition to teaching.” 

Lacy’s comments followed a number of complaints he received from parents and boosters, which included claims of verbal abuse and calls for Duron to be replaced. 

Earlier this year, Dan Ramos, Santa Monica’s assistant softball coach, wrote a letter to the editor of the Santa Monica Daily Press criticizing Duron and writing that “they should of got rid of this guy a long time ago.” The Santa Monica Mirror reported that Ramos had applied for the job when Kevin Brockway was chosen in 2004.

Duron said the situation at Santa Monica just “got worse and worse” during the season. He replaced Brockway, who resigned in 2007 after the Vikings lost to Charter Oak, 7-1, in the Division 4 finals at Dodger Stadium to take an assistant coaching position with West Los Angeles College. In two years, Duron was 34-27, 16-4 in the Ocean League. 

This year, Santa Monica finished in a tie for third with Hawthorne at 6-4 in the Ocean League, but defeated the Cougars, 6-5, in an extra game to reach the CIF playoffs. Two of Santa Monica’s league losses were to Beverly Hills, giving Vonzie Paysinger his first season sweep of the Vikings in 11 years as head coach. 

Beverly Hills, 12-15, 8-2, captured the Ocean League regular season title, before losing in the first round of the CIF playoffs, 9-8, to Bell Gardens.

“I think Santa Monica is losing a good coach,” Paysinger said. “In his two years Santa Monica was 16-4. The administrations and parents were not happy with that record. I don’t think they will ever be happy. It’s sad that he was forced to resign.”

Duron declined to comment on Paysinger’s remarks, only saying that Paysinger did a great job with Beverly Hills this season and should be considered for coach of the year in the Ocean League.

A year ago Samohi went 10-0 in the Ocean League but lost a first round playoff game, 3-2, to Diamond Ranch High School of Pomona. There is no indication of who the new coach will be, but Lacy said a search for Duron’s replacement has begun and several current coaches at Santa Monica have applied for the position.

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Rocchio Released By Clearwater 

CLEARWATER, Fla. – Joe Rocchio, a 2003 Beverly High graduate, has been released by the Clearwater Threshers, a minor league affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. 

He was drafted by the Phillies in the tenth round of the 2007 draft out of Cal State Northridge. Rocchio started the season with the Threshers in the Class A Florida State League and posted an 8.59 ERA in five appearances before being released on May 11. 

— By Chris H. Sieroty