The LookOut sports
Santa Monica Sports Notes
Jonas Swyer completed his Samohi pitching career by striking out 12 batters in a 13-5 victory over Peninsula Thursday afternoon. The senior righthander who threw two no-hitters last year signed a letter of intent with the University of Connecticut...

The Samohi boys volleyball team lost in the first round of the CIF playoffs to Loyola High, 16-14, 15-4, 15-10...

After beginning the season with nine consecutive losses St. Monica High's baseball team settled down and became a contender in its league. The team is headed to the CIF playoffs.

Jason Speciner, who is going to Colorado State on a football scholarship, won the shot put and discus at the Bay League track finals at Santa Monica College. He had a personal best 56-1 in the shot put on his final throw.

Crossroads finished fifth in the boys meet and fourth in the girls meet at the Delphic League track finals. Ashley Jaffey qualified for the girls CIF prelims. Jordan Rush and Jake Avnet qualified among the boys.

Monica Flores, who is a basketball star at St. Monica, does will in softball too. She hit two home runs in a 10-1 win over Bell-Jeff. Teresa Rodriguez pitched the victory.

Santa Monica College signed two guards for next season's basketball team --- Richard Bluette from New York and Brandon Williams from St. Bernard High. Last season's point guard, Ricky Terrell, signed a letter of intent with Hawaii.

Lacy Becomes Samohi Football Coach and Brings Back Kusserow

Ten years ago Norm Lacy applied for the job of head football coach at Santa Monica High. He was a worthy candidate, having served as an assistant for 13 years on the staff of Tebb Kusserow.

It was time for Kusserow to retire and he left as a legend. He coached Samohi to the 1981 CIF championship and his teams made the playoffs 15 times in 17 years.

But Lacy didn't get the job. Ron Guercio did. Several other coaches proceeded to guide Samohi through some disastrous seasons. Meanwhile, Lacy went to St. Monica, the much smaller Catholic school in the city and built a powerhouse, culminated by the school's first CIF championship in 60 years.

But Lacy shook up the town in February when he came back to Samohi as head coach. And, to make the story really intruiging, he brought back Kusserow as offensive co-ordinator.

``Tebb is 58 and hasn't coached in nine years but he's sat in the tower at St. Monica games during that time and analyzed my teams,'' said Lacy. ``He's still very sharp about football and rejuvenated with this opportunity. It's for two years and then we'll see.''

Samohi dismissed Donald Paysinger, who coached the team to 2-8 records each of the last two seasons. The change was smooth in one way --- Lacy was already on the Samohi staff as a teacher. He'd teach in the morning, then go to St. Monica to coach football in the afternoon.

Paysinger, a former assistant at Beverly Hills High where his brother, Carter, has built a successful program, returned to that role.

Randy Robinson, who has been at St. Monica nine years, the last five as head Jayvee coach, became the new St. Monica varsity head coach.

Lacy and Kusserow went right to work. They met with players, introduced a weight-lifting program and established some rules.

It remains to be seen if Samohi will win more games but the chances improved when the team went from the tough Bay League to the somewhat weaker Ocean League.

``I feel it was time for a change,'' said Lacy, who followed his 1998 CIF championship with a 1-9 season at St. Monica. ``I was getting too comfortable.''

Players from Samohi's storied past are happy to see familiar faces back guiding the team.

``It's interesting that Coach Kusserow is coming back,'' said Dennis Thurman, who starred at Samohi and USC, then played eight excellent seaons with the Dallas Cowboys and one with the St. Louis Cardinals and is now an assistant coach at USC.

``I think this is a positive development for Samohi.''

Sam Anno, another former Samohi and USC star who played seven years in the NFL, will also be on the staff. Anno was an assistant with Lacy at St. Monica.

Kusserow said the time was right for retirement 10 years ago after he had coached Thurman, Dennis Smith, Junior Thurman, Mel Kaufman, Pat O'Hara, Dean Cain (TV's Superman), Glyn Milburn, Anno, Keith Davis and many others.

``I wasn't burned out but left coaching for a variety of reasons,'' he said. ``I still had a lot of energy but challenged it in different directions.''

He became a competitive road bicyclist, competing in age-group races around the world. His wife, Jeannie, and sons also competed.

He became the director of special projects for St. Monica's church under the direction of Monsignor Lloyd Torgerson. In 1994 Kusserow led the drive that raised millions of dollars to repair the church destroyed in L.A.'s devestating earthquake.

And he watched games of his pal, Lacy.

``I'm sure he hasn't missed all the problems that go along with being a coach but he has missed Friday nights on the sidelines,'' said Lacy. ``Once you've been a coach you don't get that out of your system.''

During Kusserow's long and successful reign at Samohi his teams frequently pounded away on the ground. However, Samohi featured a passing attack last season with sophomore quarterback James Cooper and sophomore receiver Charles Gordon.

Whatever plan is employed on offense the team must do much better defensively to do some winning. The defense was porous the last two years, giving up more than 50 points in a game several times.

``Once you lose the auroa of having a winning program it's hard to get it back,'' said Kusserow. ``But we're going to try.''

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