Dandy Dozen All-Time LA City RBs

It wasn't an easy call, but we rate Stafon Johnson as Dorsey's top back ever. He's also the high-rated L.A. City back on our board that did not go on to football immortality in college or the NFL but gets proper credit for what accomplished on the high school level. Photo: Ronnie Flores

It wasn’t an easy call, but Stafon Johnson is Dorsey’s top back ever. He’s also the highest-rated back on our board that did not go on to college or NFL immortality, but gets proper credit for high school level accomplishments. Photo: Ronnie Flores

Two Heisman Trophy winners, a NFL Hall of Famer and a player who started out as an offensive guard get the nod as the greatest running backs in L.A. City Section history in yet another unique look at prep football history from Cal-Hi Sports. Eight more receive high honorable mention and 75 city backs in all honored. More exclusive state record book features are coming soon and many will be part of our Gold Club membership. To become a member and not miss any of our content, CLICK HERE.

RELATED: Top 10 All-Time L.A. City FB Teams | 2016 Preseason State Football Rankings | 2016 Preseason All-L.A. City Section FB Team

We spent the last few days updating lists in our vast Cal-Hi Sports Record Book and with the season starting up around the state this week, got fired up to work on our L.A. City Section Record Book, an ongoing project that we will publish one day with as much information about football from the L.A. City Section as we can uncover.

We decided since there have been so many great players from the section over the years, and because our ranking of the all-time Top 10 L.A. City Section teams generated so much interest, passion and brought out good memories in the comments section, we’d stir up the pot again. This time we’re ranking individual players, in particular the L. A. City Section’s Top 12 all-time running backs, and luckily we have plenty of statistics, and saw many of these great running players or know of historians that did, to back up our claims.

Our ranking of the City’s greatest backs is primarily based on high school accomplishment, not what they did afterwards, which is a lot easier to track and follow than what transpired at the high school level. Similar to our L.A. City team rankings, we decided against any players prior to World War II because we never evaluated those teams and while we do have some info on them, we don’t have as much compared to the vast files of all the great players since. Also, players and much bigger and stronger in recent generations and it’s hard to gauge if a player from the early part of the 20th century could really stack up to all the great backs of the last 60 years.

The main criteria is that a player must have primarily played running back at his high school, not played wingback or split end, or developed into one after high school. This eliminates some great players who played quarterback or another skill position (see more detail below the rankings).
The Buzz 150
So without further ado, here’s our ranking of the L.A. City’s greatest backs (listed by school and senior season year).

(Post World War II to present)

1. Mike Garrett (L.A. Roosevelt 1961) 5-8, 180
Topping our list is the 1965 Heisman Trophy winner and the table setter for all the great USC backs that followed him. After playing quarterback as an underclassmen, the Boyle Heights legend switched to tailback as a senior and was named section and Cal-Hi Sports State Player of the Year (Mr. Football). He scored 153 points in eight games for what was basically an also-ran club and was surrounded by far less talent than his contemporaries on this list, and that was a factor because his greatness still was evident. He was the first L.A. City back to score six touchdowns in a game (against archrival Garfield in the East L.A. Classic nonetheless), gained 1,467 yards on only 146 carries and closed out his career by scoring five touchdowns and two conversion against L.A. Wilson. “Talk about playing with ten guys that basically got in the way,” said the late L.A. City Section historian and San Fernando assistant Bill Frazer. “I saw Garrett three our four times and the other great SoCal backs in that era, and I’m telling you, they couldn’t hold a candle to Garrett.”

2. Freeman McNeil (Wilmington Banning 1976) 6-0, 190
One of the great stories of California high school football is the one about this muscular athlete who went on to become an All-American at UCLA and one of the greatest players in New York Jets history. Toiling in obscurity as an offensive guard at Compton Centennial, legendary coach Chris Ferragamo took one look at McNeil during his first practice with the Pilots and promptly moved him to tailback. Two years later, McNeil led the state in scoring (162 points), breaking the section rushing touchdown record with 27 while leading Banning to the first of six consecutive L.A. City Section 4A titles. The former guard was considered one of the nation’s top recruits after rushing for 1,343 yards on 165 carries for the No. 1 ranked team in the state. As a senior McNeil was the L.A. City Player of the Year, State Player of the Year and Mr. Football USA (awarded to the top player in the country).

3. Charles White (San Fernando 1975) 5-11, 175
As a sophomore, White was too young for varsity competition so he learned the Tigers’ vaunted offensive system as a BEE wishbone quarterback. On varsity he was moved to fullback in San Fernando’s “Dream Backfield” (QB Kenny Moore, HB Kevin Williams, HB Ray Williams) and the results were spectacular. White was all-L.A. City in 1974, gaining 1,160 yards on 118 carries and repeated in 1975, gaining 1,155 yards on 121 carries. In one game he went for 215 yards on five carries and averaged a career 9.7 yards per carry while also playing a fearless defensive back. He was also the L.A. City and CIF state low hurdles (330-yard) champ at 36.7. The only one of his backfield teammates to play tailback after high school, White went on to win the 1979 Heisman Trophy at USC. He pushed McNeil for the No. 2 spot, but Moore was a two-time L.A. City Player of the Year, sharing the award with White as a senior when the latter was named Mr. Football for the state and country.

4. Hugh McElhenny (L.A. Washington 1947) 6-2, 193
Similar to Charles White, “Hurrying Hugh” was great on both the gridiron and the track. He is one of the few to have ever accomplished a CIF state meet individual triple when he won the high hurdles (14.5), low hurdles (19.9) and triple jump (22-10 1/2). He was a great broken field runner with power in pads and his college and NFL highlights show some modern-day moves and cuts. Coach Bill Sloan ran a T-formation and used the big play offense to finish 8-0 and ranked as the state’s No. 1 team. QB Bob Cameron’s 26 completions averaged 26.6 yards per reception while McElhenny, the state player of the year, averaged 10.6 yards per carry from his fullback position. Everybody knows LeBron James as “The King”, but that was McElhenny’s original nickname during a career that saw him earn college and NFL Hall of Fame recognition.

All-time LA City rushing and scoring king Milton Knox churning for yardage versus Long Beach Poly. Photo: Scott Kurtz

All-time LA City rushing and scoring king Milton Knox churning for yardage versus Long Beach Poly. Photo: Scott Kurtz

5. Stafon Johnson (L.A. Dorsey 2005) 6-0, 202
This is the spot where we begin to honor players that didn’t necessarily go on to become big-time NCAA or NFL stars and we don’t mind creating some controversy by placing the four-year Dorsey standout in the top five. What we remember most about Johnson came in 2005 versus Oakland McClymonds at Jackie Robinson Stadium. There were over 15 D1 prospects in the game and Johnson was by far the best player on the field. He scored on a 64-yard fumble recovery return and finished his senior season with 2,125 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns. Johnson ran like a grown man; fast, strong, and just elusive enough at his size. Despite sharing the ball for three years with Jeremiah Johnson (who gained 3,289 yards himself), Stafon Johnson is the city top five in career rushing (5,285 yards) and scored 59 touchdowns in 42 games before moving on to USC.

6. Milton Knox (Van Nuys Birmingham 2007) 5-9, 200
He wasn’t the biggest nor fastest, but when you consider Knox’s numbers against the stiff competition he played, it’s impossible to leave the Pacoima native out of the top 10. He was a ball boy for Taft when his brother Dayon Shaw was the quarterback, so he got an up close look at the back (Jerry Brown) whose all-time city rushing record he eventually broke. After leading Birmingham to its third section title in four years, Knox was named state player of the year and finished with 1,308 yards more than Brown (6,695 yards) and scored 22 more touchdowns than North Hollywood’s Marlon Lucky (103). The only back in section history with over 100 career touchdowns, Knox played in 53 career games, carrying the ball 943 times, scoring 656 points and gaining 7,523 all-purpose yards. Numbers aside, the class and humility he displayed on live television after Birmingham was edged out by Corona Centennial for a CIF Bowl Game berth opposite De La Salle also left a lasting impression.

7. Gaston Green (Gardena 1983) 5-11, 190
In stark contrast to Knox, if Green’s vast talents were utilized a bit more, he’s probably a couple of spots higher. In Knox’s junior season alone he carried the ball more times (328) than Green did in his three seasons on the Mohicans’ varsity. One of the most highly-recruited tailbacks in the country, Green averaged 9.2 yards per carry (305 carries for 2,811 yards) and scored 32 touchdowns. A versatile back with breakaway speed and the innate ability to make tacklers miss, Green also caught 12 passes in his career for 379 yards (31.6 avg) and five more scores. Before going on to All-American acclaim at UCLA and the NFL, he also placed second in the L.A. City 100 and 200-meter dash with top marks of 10.58 and 21.47.

8. Jerome Casey (Sylmar 1989) 6-0, 185
The surprise pick of the Dandy Dozen — unless you saw him play in high school and don’t hold what happened (or didn’t) afterwards against him. Casey had 10.7 100-meter speed, was the first player to bench press over 400 pounds (425) for coach Jeff Engilman and was tough on both sides of the ball. He set the bar for a program that went 86-18-2 between 1987 (Casey’s sophomore year) and 1995 with two section titles. The three-time all-city choice scored 49 touchdowns and rushed for 3,873 career yards in 29 games, including 1,457 yards in 10 games as a senior. That season, he also caught 14 passes for a whopping 407 yards (29.1 ypr) and made 70 tackles as a hard-hitting safety. Even though Prop 48 wiped out his scholarship to USC, Pete Kokon (the founder of the San Fernando Valley Football Foundation and a well-respected historian who graduated from Van Nuys in 1932) called Casey the best all-around player — offense and defense — he’d ever seen in the San Fernando Valley, CIF Southern Section programs included.

9. De’Anthony Thomas (L.A. Crenshaw 2010) 5-9, 165
We saw Thomas’ first varsity game against Lakewood in 2008 and knew with his blazing speed and natural football instincts, he’d have quite a career. We didn’t know “The Black Momba” would become a cultural phenomenon among inner-city youth who idolized his every move. The most highly-publicized back of his generation, Thomas was named 2008 state sophomore player of the year, led Crenshaw to the CIF Open Division bowl game in 2009 and as a senior rushed for 1,299 yards while picking off five passes on defense for a Cougars team that won their second consecutive section title. We hesitated to put The Momba too high because he simply didn’t carry the ball that much as a true tailback, but we then remember what we saw up close his senior year versus Dorsey and against Narbonne in the city title game at the Coliseum — the most explosive back we’ve seen in the state since 1990 Mr. Football Napoleon Kaufman of Lompoc.

Here's a picture of De'Anthony Thomas during his first varsity game in 2008. Photo: Scott Kurtz

Here’s a picture of De’Anthony Thomas during his first varsity game. Photo: Scott Kurtz

10. Dwight Ford (Bell 1973) 5-11, 175
NFL Hall of Famer Joe “The Jet” Perry (L.A. Jordan) just misses the WWII cutoff (1943), so we went with the best player in Bell history. He is somewhat underappreciated because of injuries and competing with Ricky Bell and Charles White for playing time at USC, but that doesn’t take away from what he accomplished for the Eagles. The three-year standout was two-time all-city and city co-Player of the Year with All-American acclaim as a senior when he rushed for 1,651 yards and 19 touchdowns. A fine sprinter, Ford rushed for 1,375 yards as a junior and 3,831 yards for his career.

11. J.R. Redmond (Carson 1994) 6-0, 190
It was a tough decision to go with the two-time all-city performer as the Colts’ best running back ever over Alvin Goree, but we decided the former Arizona State standout and Super Bowl champion was just too talented and versatile to leave off. In the Pac-10, Redmond played running back, could catch the ball, was a factor in the return game and took snaps at defensive back and did the same at Carson, only in more dominant fashion. As a junior, he totaled 1,316 all-purpose yards and 10 touchdowns and became the first Carson player to score rushing, receiving, returning punts and kickoffs in a single season. As a senior splitting carries with Patrick McCall (3,242 career yards), the first team all-state choice scored nine touchdowns to go along with 1,154 all-purpose yards. In two years, Redmond totaled 568 kickoff return yards and 408 punt return yards and four return touchdowns.

12. Stanley Wilson (Wilmington Banning 1978) 6-0, 195
It was a gut-wrenching decision, but choosing between two standout fullbacks we went with “The Steamer” over Charles Evans of Gardena for the final spot. As a tenth-grader, he played split end as Freeman McNeil handled most of the ball-carrying duties, but after McNeil departed for UCLA Wilson picked up right where he left off. As a junior, he broke McNeil’s school record with 28 touchdowns while rushing for 1,762 yards, including a 12.9 yards per carry average during the regular season. As a senior, he repeated as L.A. City Player of the Year, rushing for 1,642 yards and 15 touchdowns before going on to play at Oklahoma and in the NFL.

Next Great Eight
(Received high consideration to round out the Top 20 backs; listed alphabetically)

John Arnett (L.A. Manual Arts 1952): All-NFL choice in 1958 led the city in scoring in 1952 (112 points) and was city long jump champion.

Ronnie Barber Sr. (San Pedro 1962): A legend in the South Bay, Barber was two-time all-city and player of the year as a senior when he gained 1,161 yards of total offense.

Steve Broussard (L.A. Manual Arts 1984): Chosen first team Cal-Hi Sports all-state at DB for coach Jeff Engilman’s back-to-back 3A City champs, Broussard was a two-time all-city back and the city 100-meter champion in 1984 and 1985.

Ontiwaun Carter (Granada Hills Kennedy 1990): After three 1,000 yard seasons against stiff competition for the Golden Cougars, Carter (4,274 yards) was named the sixth best San Fernando Valley player of the 1990’s by the L.A. Daily News.

Charles Evans (Gardena 1966): Unofficially No. 13 on this list, the two-time co-L.A. City Player of the Year had 20 touchdowns and 35 conversion as a junior and averaged 9.8 yards per carry as a senior.

Alvin Goree (Carson 1986): A three-year standout for coach Gene Vollnogle, Goree (3,384 career total yards) saved his best game for last, rushing for 144 yards, including a 52-yard score, to lead the Colts over national No. 1 Banning, 21-11, before 16,000 fans for the city crown.

Durrell Price (Sylmar 1995): Rare combination of speed and power (6-1, 215) netted 4,176 yards and 78 touchdowns and a 25-game winning streak for the Spartans.

Sharmon Shah (L.A. Dorsey 1991): Another clutch performer, Shah shared the ball with Lamont Warren (before that future NFL back moved to QB) as a junior, then came back and rushed for 1,694 yards in 206 carries to earn city co-L.A. City Player of the Year honors as a senior.

Honorable Mention
(Those marked by asterisk received most consideration for Top 20;  listed alphabetically)

*Michael Alo (Wilmington Banning 1980); Danny Andrews (Wilmington Banning 1980); Sherman Austin (L.A. Lincoln 1997); Ricky Bell (L.A. Fremont 1972); Harold Boudreaux (Van Nuys 1991); Marquis Brignac (Woodland Hills Taft 1998); Tobiase Brookins (Sylmar 1991); *Jerry Brown (Woodland Hills Taft 1994); *Beno Bryant (L.A. Dorsey 1988); *Clayton Calhoun (L.A. Manual Arts 1962); Jonathon Campbell (Sun Valley Poly 1990); Dante Clay (North Hollywood 1996); Kevin Cole (Gardena 1973); Tyrone Crenshaw (Sylmar 1993); *Charles Drake (L.A. Westchester 1998); Emmanuel Evans (Van Nuys Birmingham 1997); Albert Fann (Reseda Cleveland 1986); Jamal Farmer (Granada Hills 1987); *Armando Figueroa (L.A. Garfield 1993); *C.J. Gable (Sylmar 2005); Leon Gable (North Hollywood 1990); Shayzar Hawkins (Wilmington Banning 1991); Kevin Hicks (L.A. Crenshaw 1989); Tim Holliday (L.A. Westchester 1989); Chris Howard (Wilmington Banning 1999); Keyvan Jenkins (Venice 1978); Jeremiah Johnson (L.A. Dorsey 2004); Romell Knutt (L.A. Fremont 1992); Robert Lewis (South Gate South East 2011); *Tony Lorick (L.A. Fremont 1958); Marlon Lucky (North Hollywood 2004); Mario Mattison (L.A. Fairfax 1990); Patrick McCall (Carson 1996); Curtis McNeal (Venice 2007); Mike McClure (Carson 1971); Jerry Mollett (Van Nuys 1956); D.J. Morgan (Taft, Woodland Hills 2009); Manfred Moore (San Fernando 1968); Marcus O’Keith (Harbor City Narbonne 2001); Preston Oliver (L.A. Marshall 2009); Sirr Parker (L.A. Locke 1994); Marco Pleas (L.A. University 1995); Mike Pringle (Granada Hills Kennedy 1984); Chris Richards (San Fernando 1983); James Robinson (Carson 2000); Errol Sapp (Carson 1988); Ricky Thenarse (L.A. Jordan 2005); Wendell Tyler (L.A. Crenshaw 1972); Lamont Warren (L.A. Dorsey 1990); Brett Washington (Granada Hills 1990); Vince Weathersby (L.A. Dorsey 1983); Charles Webb (Gardena 1982); *Kevin Williams (San Fernando 1975); *Ivan Wilson (South Gate 1989); Fred Winborn (Van Nuys Grant 2006).

Editor’s Note: We only ranked players who were primarily running backs at the high school level; not players whom became running backs in college or in the pros. For instance, Anthony Davis of San Fernando was considered by many a better high school player than Charles White, but he was a quarterback for the Tigers before playing tailback for USC. Same with Darian Hagan at L.A. Locke; he was at one time the L.A. City Section’s all-time leading rusher, but was primarily an option QB for the Saints. If a player was a dominant two-way player or played multiple positions, we used our discretion. For instance, Michael Alo of Wilmington Banning was a great inside runner, but he also could dominate at linebacker and punt. If this was a ranking of the greatest all-around players in L.A. City Section history, he would be near the top. These rankings are based primarily on high school accomplishment; what transpired afterwards had little influence of the actual order.

Ronnie Flores is the managing editor of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at ronlocc1977@yahoo.com. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @RonMFlores

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  1. Shay
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    How about Freddie Lee from Locke 96. LA Times Player of the Year

  2. Ronnie Flores
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    I considered Freddie Lee, but he was behind Sirr Parker in my pecking order. One a few guys were were 1-year standouts made the list. Tough choice to leave off. Great senior season in 1995.

    • Emilio
      Posted June 25, 2023 at 9:37 am | Permalink

      Was Bryan Wiley 86′ Narbonne considered? He was all everything leading Narbonne to the 3A Co-Champs with Van Nuys in 81. He went on to Ucla and played for legendary coach Terry Donahue. He is now one of the leading Orthopedic Surgeons in California.

  3. Christopher
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    What about Sterling Salguero ? 3x all city first team and 3x all state and primarily played running back.

    • Ronnie Flores
      Posted August 25, 2016 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

      Sterling Salguero is a strong player, but he’d be behind a few others in the Birmingham pecking order, mainly Dennis Keyes, who did not make the list.

      • elledge penland
        Posted August 30, 2016 at 4:15 am | Permalink

        Milton Knox best player in City history running back that is

  4. Justin
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    Does you remember Jason Ferguson from Fairfax H.S. Class of 03? He was a running back/slotback. He should definitely be an honorable mention, at the least.

    • Ronnie Flores
      Posted August 25, 2016 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Justin for your input. I know who Jason is, but unfortunately I didn’t consider him strongly enough to make the HM cut.

  5. steven landress
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    I was co coach at Manual Arts 1983 and 1984 in football. Steve Broussard was the best. I also Coached Albert Fann at Cleveland but another back who did well was Sean Burwell from Cleveland High. He went on and Started at Oregon for two years. Great Player .

    • J.z.
      Posted April 16, 2020 at 1:52 am | Permalink

      I played defense for TAFT IN 1988. I played that year against Derick brown- servite. Brett Washington- granada hills. Jamal anderson – El camino. 10th grader Ontiwaun carter Kennedy. Beno bryant -Dorsey . All i can tell u is Sean Burwell was no joke and every bit as talented as RB’s i mentioned above.

  6. Stephen
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    Am I the only one who is troubled by calling this list “Dandy Dozen All-Time L.A. City RBs” given it’s obvious nod towards a modern revisionist history? By dismissing the contributions of those who played the game pre-WWII, the validity of your list as an “All-Time” loses any sense of credibility. More accurately it is a list from the last half-century. Further, while you opine opining that “players are much bigger and stronger in recent generations”, would it not make more sense to evaluate pre-WWII players and their abilities within the context of their own era? The game is different, equipment is different. Dismissing players from the first half-century because of a lack of research is blatantly unfair.

    • Ronnie Flores
      Posted August 26, 2016 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

      Stephen, thanks for your input. If this is for the best individual performers, then only comparing them within the context of their own era, doesn’t make as much sense as just trying to define their greatness overall. I think comparing within context of one’s own era makes much more sense when you’re ranking teams. Under normal circumstances, you would assume players get bigger, just a bit better each passing generation. I think it would be unfair if I didn’t mention that I wouldn’t be considering them and just plain leaving them out. I do have some notes and files on them, but admittedly not film and knowledge like players of the last 30-40 years.

  7. Ronnie Flores
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    Coach Landress, yeah we had to put Broussard high in this list; there were so many backs to consider. I know you coached Albert at Cleveland and I apologize for not mentioning you as co-coach with Engilman, I should have remembered that.

    I recall Burwell, but I felt Fann had stronger numbers and a HS career.

    The real question is, how close were you guys to getting Russell White at Cleveland? I know he broke your heart hahaha

    • ERIK
      Posted March 24, 2024 at 10:59 pm | Permalink


  8. Randy Minor
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    What about Richard Johnson from San Pedro High? Ended up as a receiver for the Houston Gamblers and Detroit Lions

    • Ronnie Flores
      Posted August 26, 2016 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

      Tough, but I would have him behind Barber and a few more South Bay backs.

  9. Jimmy Legaspi Jr.
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    Chris Howard 1998-99 Banning HS holds the all time record at school.
    All everything with plenty of awards from All City, All Area, All State
    and Top 25 RB’s in country-
    Went on to USC –

    • Ronnie Flores
      Posted August 26, 2016 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

      Chris Howard is talented and he did make the HM list, but he had one great year and had a down senior year. He would be behind Alo, Freeman, Stanley Wilson in the Banning pecking order. Plays there is Shay Hawkins and I didn’t even consider Travis Davis (DB). There is only 12 spots and can’t be 3-4 from 1 school out of 100.

      • Chris
        Posted August 3, 2018 at 1:12 am | Permalink

        You should go back and check. Senior season was an injury hit season and still rushed for over 1600 yds and 20 + tds. Although you had some great rbs up there should be changes in the top 20. Most of the guys you had on the list played recently in the 2000s.

  10. mando
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    What about Lamont Lovett out of Franklin? Played at Arizona

    • Ronnie Flores
      Posted August 26, 2016 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

      Mando, I probably should have given Lamont more consideration. Probably if he had a monster junior year I would have included him. Can he be on the HM list? Absolutely. He’s good enough but I also left some pretty good backs off.

      • Roger Silva
        Posted January 31, 2019 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

        Lamont Lovett was the first RB to go over 2.000 yds that alone should put him on the list

  11. RJW
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    How can Johnathan “Jetski” Franklin, (Dorsey HS ’08) not make the list???

    • Ronnie Flores
      Posted August 26, 2016 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

      Jetski is probably the one back that I’m getting the most feedback on. In retrospect, he obviously good enough to make the list. Here’s the two problems, Dorsey has other great backs that played on stronger teams and 2, he’s overshadowed a bit by Stafon and Milton Knox in his year.

  12. Jacobson
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    Crazy how Sylmar’s 10.6 100m all time season leading rusher Ryen Carew 2000 yard on 181 carries 24 tds 12 yards a carry. 41 yards per carry sophmore. And verdugo all time leading rusher 1936 yards at Verdugo 24 tds. 2x all LA city and state and leading rusher record holder at 2 schools didnt make the list.

    • Ronnie Flores
      Posted August 26, 2016 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

      In the Sylmar pecking order, Ryen would be behind the two best Jerome and Durrell Price, plus there is Toby Brookins, CJ Gable and Tyrone Crenshaw. That’s a lot for one school and only 12 spots.

      • William Carew
        Posted August 22, 2018 at 8:30 am | Permalink

        Who do you think CJ learned from I was track coach at Sylmar, JV football coach , Still coaching at a school in San Fernando where my backs still run for over a 1000 yds at a city sectiom school that has only been open for six years.

        • William Carew
          Posted August 22, 2018 at 9:33 am | Permalink

          Forgot to mention led city in rushing 2 straight years from top school in city Sylmar and from school teams wanted to play just to get a win Verdugo. Verdugo went from bottom of the city in football to competitive in City section football. Both years Ryen won city rushing title each school had no passing game , he faced 8 , 9 men in the box. Needless to say the pecking order came to see him play as did Eric Dickerson his senior season in high school so excuse me for questioning your list.His first game where he started was against Dorsey , where he went up against two backs mentioned on your list. He ran for 220 yds two Td and Dorsey coaches came up to him after the game and praised him. Get your list straight.

  13. Earl Ramsey
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    My guy Terrance Whitehead?? Crenshaw high

    • Ronnie Flores
      Posted August 26, 2016 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

      Earl, I consider Terrance more of a multi-purpose do it all guys similar to a Dennis Northcutt at Dorsey. For all-purpose players, I think he’d get more strong consideration. Really good player.

  14. Darryl Holmes
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

    These lists are always fun and a great conversation piece.Thanks for putting this out.

    • Ronnie Flores
      Posted August 26, 2016 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for taking the time to check it out! Please share it!

  15. Thomas Devoux
    Posted August 26, 2016 at 1:38 am | Permalink

    Born and raised as a Carson Colt! All I can say is i was there in late 70’s and 80’s historic clashes and battles between these 2 power house schools. Banning had great rb for 6-7 yrs straight starting with Freeman McNeil, Stanley wilson,and the dynamic dual of Danny Andrews and Thee Strongest Pilot of them all,The One and only Michael Alo. It took 2-3 Colts to bring Michael down,he was a beast. All love to my Carson Colts and All love for Banning Pilots the greatest high school football rivalry in California in the last 40 years. Now the 80’s was all Colts the greatest of the Colts teams.Much love to Colts 60’s,70’s,80’s,90’s teams.2000 and beyond Colts well you have to earn it,it is not given so go out there bleed black and blue and take it don’t fake it.Colt Love

    • Ronnie Flores
      Posted August 26, 2016 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for commenting Thomas. On a list of the GREATEST ALL-AROUND players, Alo would be right near the top. What a great era of football.

  16. Dee
    Posted August 26, 2016 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    You actually had a couple of narbonne backs on the list but the best back in gaucho history is Bryan wiley who went on to play for ucla

    • Ronnie Flores
      Posted August 26, 2016 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for taking the time to let me know Dee. Appreciate the input.

  17. Andre Bouvay Sr.
    Posted August 26, 2016 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    Andre Bouvay should have been in there somewhere. (Los Angeles Fremont)

    • Ronnie Flores
      Posted August 26, 2016 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

      Bouvay, thanks for your input. I didn’t know basketball guys care so much about football! lol J/K

      • Andre Bouvay
        Posted November 16, 2016 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

        I am I played football before I played basketball. My son was one of the top rb’s in the city

  18. C. Towns
    Posted August 26, 2016 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    What about Tony Thomas? ( Jefferson 92)

    • Ronnie Flores
      Posted August 26, 2016 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

      I considered Tony, unfortunately he didn’t make the cut. I also think he’s a victim a bit of the era he played in, so many backs in the city around 87-92. Tony was one of many, not a cut above. Nowadays, he’d be a star with a lot more publicity. Tough runner, could run over folks and had enough speed for the next level.

    • Joe kelly
      Posted August 26, 2017 at 9:39 am | Permalink

      Clarence Nelson Jefferson high 1982 was a beast!!

  19. Teejay white
    Posted August 26, 2016 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    What about Sirr Parker

    • Ronnie Flores
      Posted August 26, 2016 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

      Strong player and dynamic and super fast, but just not enough over guys who either had more numbers or won far more big games.

    Posted August 26, 2016 at 11:41 am | Permalink


    • Ronnie Flores
      Posted August 26, 2016 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for reading and responding coach Garett. It was fun putting it together. I strongly considered Kevin Hicks, who in my estimation is the second best back you ever coached, even though he only started one year. I think if he has a monster game in the semis against Carson, he’d be right there. So many great backs to consider. I like Farrell Payton, too.

  21. John
    Posted August 26, 2016 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    Jack sula from Carson 06-07 ran for 2000 as a junior another 1400 as a senior all while starting at linebacker the whole time..not even a honorable mention

    • Ronnie Flores
      Posted August 26, 2016 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

      Jack is a victim of being from a program that already had so many great backs before him (Goree, Sapp, JR. etc.). Plus Carson didn’t win like they did in the 1970s and 1980 and unfortunately that was a bit of a factor.

  22. Robert Loera
    Posted August 26, 2016 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    The list that you compiled is a good one. I played against Sirr Parker, Armando Figueroa, Jerry Brown & Marco Pleas…all great players. I also played with Romell Knutt @ Fremont. Freddie Lee from Locke was good as well. Out of curiosity, is their an All-Time QB list, or even a top All-Time list from each school? Thank you for your time.

    • Ronnie Flores
      Posted August 26, 2016 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for responding Robert. I don’t have an all-time list for another position. But people would like to see a QB and WR one. May do it someday. Thanks again.

  23. DBMac
    Posted August 26, 2016 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    1980 to 82. Lloyd Hawthorne Crenshaw high should be on that list

    • Ronnie Flores
      Posted August 26, 2016 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

      I’m getting some positive feedback that Lloyd should be on the list. Thanks for taking the time to respond. Tough choices!

      • ERIK
        Posted March 24, 2024 at 11:01 pm | Permalink


  24. K-Rahn
    Posted August 26, 2016 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

    How you not mention Tommy Jackson??? (Dorsey High ’83-’86)

  25. Ronnie Flores
    Posted August 26, 2016 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

    k-Rahn, already too many other backs from Dorsey. Weathersby, Warren, Beno, etc. Can’t put them all in there with 12 spots 75 total from nearly 100 schools. It’s a numbers game.

  26. Adam J
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    What about Jack Sula class of 2008

    • Adam J
      Posted August 27, 2016 at 8:56 am | Permalink

      What about Jack Sula class of 2008 Carson Colts

      • Ronnie Flores
        Posted August 27, 2016 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

        Adam, already too many other backs to consider from Carson. Sula is somewhat hurt because of the school’s history. Can’t be 20 of the 75 backs from 3-4 schools (Carson, Banning, Sylmar, Dorsey). Want to spread the love around a bit.

  27. Jeff
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    What about Anthony Davis with San Fernando in the 1970s. Everybody knows about the Notre Dame game with USC but he did that almost every game as part of the San Fernando high school team. Epic battles between them and Granada Hills high school.

    • Ronnie Flores
      Posted August 27, 2016 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

      Unfortunately, AD cannot make this list because he played QB in high school. Had to spend the majority of your time at RB to make this list. Most consider him the greatest player in SF history, above Charles White, Kenny Moore and anyone else.

  28. Matthew Piazza
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    Great and fun list! Brought back a lot of memories. Had the pleasure to see Jonathon Campbell win a City title for my alma mater Poly, but the best running back and football player in school history was Craig Ellis.

    • Ronnie Flores
      Posted August 27, 2016 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for commenting and sharing Matthew!

  29. Richard
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Lynn Cain from Roosevelt…any thoughts?

  30. Ronnie Flores
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

    You know I thought about Lynn, but I think he really stepped it up and made a name for himself at EAST LA JC. Of course, he was a bit like Dwight Ford in that he had to battle Ricky Bell and Charles White for carries. He got his chance with Atlanta and made the most of it. Great story and great career, just not sure great in HS.

  31. elledge penland
    Posted August 30, 2016 at 4:26 am | Permalink

    #2 Milton Knox#3 City championship rings All City for years. In a roll first-team All-American two years in a row 14 years old in the 9th grade All City corner in a city championship against Stefan Johnson and The Dorsey Don’s 6000 something yards a hundred and three touchdowns most touchdowns scored by a running back in high school history his uncle ELLEDGE PENLAND AKA BIGG ELDOGG

    • Ronnie Flores
      Posted September 1, 2016 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

      Milton was a great high school player no doubt.

  32. Gilbert Quiroz
    Posted August 31, 2016 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    What about Jamal Anderson El Camino High school, this list brings back great memories playing against Russell White, Jamal Farmer, Onriwaun Carter, Brett Wahington & Jamal Anderson When L.A. City schools were deep in running backs.

  33. Ronnie Flores
    Posted September 1, 2016 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    I considered Jamal Anderson, ECR had great playoff run, but I don’t think he had the high school career many of the players, you mentioned did; He clearly didn’t have the career Brett Washington did. It was great to see Pinball continue to develop at Moorpark and in D1 and of course the NFL.

  34. Ronnie Flores
    Posted September 5, 2016 at 1:29 am | Permalink

    I want to thank everyone for checking out my Dandy Dozen #LACITY RBs story. Here’s a couple of main thoughts and notes from feedback I got:
    1) I wanted to mix the picks up as much as possible with a few guys from each league/conference, so school representation was a factor. Wasn’t going to be 20 out of 75 honored from 3-4 schools (Dorsey, Banning, Carson, Sylmar).
    2) I knew placing Mike Garett No. 1 was going to create some controversy, but he was breaking at USC and made the NFL, so he would have just done JUST FINE in the Southern League. McKay didn’t just hit him with a “magic wand” and all of a sudden he was good lol. When he was a senior at Roosevelt, he went to USC’s practices.
    3) Chris Howard’s 2,679 yards in ’98 still the single-season City Record, which is nearly 2,000 yards less than the state-record Tyler Ebell rushed for (4,495) his senior year at Ventura HS in 2000. Having 1 or 2 really fast defenders who can trip up or push a RB out of bounds makes a big difference.
    4) I didn’t honor too many guys who just started for 1 season (i.e. Kevin Hicks/Shay Hawkins) and tried to get guys who rushed for over 3,000 career yards (like Marcus O’Keith – Narbonne ’01) on the list.
    5) There had to be some statistical measure, it just couldn’t be the “eyeball” test of the guys I’ve seen; I wasn’t trying to gauge how good they were for the next level or give a scouting report, just trying to define their all-around greatness!
    6) I left some guys off who I knew I could honor at other positions (such as Michael Alo, AD, Calvin Holmes , Terrence Whitehead, Darian Hagan) so I can “use them” for other lists and honor as many different players as possible.
    7) I tried to honor a few guys who didn’t make a big splash on the next level because I didn’t want it to just be the 12 best NFL backs (not realistic and not my intention). Guys like Jerome Casey and Alvin Goree were great, it doesn’t matter if academics, injuries or decision-making kept them from being great at the next levels.
    8) From the feedback, the backs I seemed to miss the boat on the most were Jonathan “Jetski” Franklin (Dorsey ’07) and Lloyd Hawthorne (Crenshaw ’92). They were deserving to be on the list, as were a few others.

    Thanks again! #HSFB #LACITYGOATRBs

  35. Armando Figueroa
    Posted September 13, 2016 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    Figueroa The 5-9, 175-pound tailback rushed for a City-record 4,548 yards and 38 touchdowns in three seasons, including 1,669 yards and 16 touchdowns last fall to help Garfield reach the 4-A semifinals.

    In my three year carer at GHS, I was taken out at half time in 8 games, one game i had 250 yards at half time, vs Lincoln high… , looking to get the single game rushing record, Coach Aguirre, to preserve the record took me out that game. My senior year i was three hundred yards away from the single season record. Again to preserve the single season record Coach Aguirre took me out at half time in 4 games, in which i had 200 yards at half time.

    Figueroa was recruited by USC, Brigham Young and San Diego State. He was accepted at San Jose State but was not offered a scholarship. He plans to attend East Los Angeles and hope for an offer next season

    • Ronnie Flores
      Posted January 10, 2017 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

      Armando, I followed your career and saw you play. I didn’t know you were taken out of so many games by coach Aguirre. I do know your statistics and you were strongly considered for the Top 20.

      So the two questions I have are?

      1) Did you play JUCO ball or college ball at all? (Just curious)

      2) how many total touchdowns did you have? were the 38 touchdowns your rushing touchdown numbers or total? How many did you have receiving and/ in the return game or on defense?



  36. Kaki Malaki
    Posted September 14, 2016 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    How about Raymont Skaggs, Beno Bryant, Sharmon Shaw(Karim Abdul Jabar), Dennis Northcutt, and Antonio Chatmon And shouldn’t the Level of competition be a factor? Also Championships should be considered too right?

    • Ronnie Flores
      Posted January 10, 2017 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

      They were all considered. I’m a big fan of Beno Bryant, but he didn’t have a great jr. year and Skaggs, Northcutt and Chatmon kind of cancel each other out. Who was the best on that 1995 team? Shaw made the cut and I strongly considered Beno, too.

  37. Dancing Dave
    Posted November 29, 2016 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    Sorry, but any sit of top running backs in LA City History should start and end with Michael Alo. Sure he played other positions as a fill in, but he was primarily a Running Back. Your reasoning behind his omission is questionable as ALL HIGH SCHOOL stars, play both sides of the ball. I would venture to guess that all of the players on this list were two way players to some extent or another.

    Here is a little bit of history. Alo was the National Offensive player of the year as awarded by the Atlanta Touchdown club. Who came in second? A little known high school back from Georgia named Herschel Walker. Alo was a running back.

  38. Ronnie Flores
    Posted January 10, 2017 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    Gotcha that ALO was a runner, but why not honor as many players as possible. Alo could make the list as a running back, blocking back, punter and even a backer. He’s was just that good. When I do the list of greatest all-around players in city history, guess who’ll be on it.

    Rip Michael Alo.

  39. Suaava Poti
    Posted January 11, 2017 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    When is the “greatest all-around” player list coming out? Michael Alo has to be #1 on this list! Also would be a great tribute to him as this legend has passed away. The best HS football player ever. Fullback, linebacker, punter, kicker…he did it all and as Coach Ferragamo said, Mike could’ve been an All American at each position! RIP to the greatest of all time, Banning Legend #31 Michael Alo

    • Mark Tennis
      Posted January 11, 2017 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

      aWe may have to do that list someday. Don’t have the time right now with current projects. Michael surely would be near the top. Very sorry to hear of his passing.

  40. Alfonso Rivera
    Posted February 26, 2017 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    Hilario Espinosa (Garfield HS 1990) belongs on this list. He ran for a then record 2,045 yards I believe. His senior year they lost in the Championship to the legendary Franklin squad led by Santiago Alvarez & the Lovett Bros.
    I believe the rushing record was broken the following year by Beno Bryant out of Dorsey.

  41. tony k jones
    Posted September 4, 2017 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    I have enjoyed your work on football and basketball..keep it up. I am a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. I am a City Section graduate (Dorsey ’80). Since 1982, I have had the pleasure of watching, writing and photographing a majority of the players mentioned above. I know most of the responders, who have helped me keep writing – and I thank ALL of you. I still have archival photos (most of which I’ve taken) , hard-to-find clips, etc. of these great Dorsey, Crenshaw, Fremont, Manual Arts, Locke, Los Angeles, Jefferson, Washington Prep, Fairfax, Westchester, Lincoln, Marshall, Wilson, Sylmar, El Camino Real, Garfield, Roosevelt, Carson, Banning, Narbonne, San Fernando, Taft, San Pedro..all of the original 49 City schools. This is a great forum. Mr. Flores, I hope to work with you on a project soon. Go Cal-Hi Sports!

    • Ronnie Flores
      Posted July 16, 2019 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

      Hopefully we can collaborate sometime Tony.

      Thanks for the support of Cal-Hi!

  42. k jones
    Posted May 6, 2018 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    no romano robinson or darryl castile. pacific palisades cant be a seriou list Michial Alo nomber 1

  43. Wayne Crawford
    Posted November 1, 2018 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    Lloyd Hawthorne should definitely be mentioned at least in the honorable mention. he put Crenshaw football on the map in the early 80’s when he decided to attend school there. Three year varsity starter who averaged a grand every year.

  44. Erik
    Posted May 24, 2019 at 2:10 am | Permalink


  45. Chase Meë
    Posted July 16, 2019 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    Prolly won’t respond to this but Ramses Hernandez was the number 5 leading rusher in the country for Fairfax in fall 15. Pat Hill class of 06 had 2k and 150 tackles went on to play at Miami. Ken Ashley and Marlon Lucky being excluded from being mentioned is wild..

    • Ronnie Flores
      Posted July 16, 2019 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

      Lucky is mentioned. It’s going to be very hard for a running back after 2010 to crack the Top 20 because the level of competition in the city right now. I’ve been to city games in recent years and the talent level overall is way down quite far. Just the reality of the situation right now.

      • Chase Meë
        Posted July 18, 2019 at 3:01 am | Permalink

        Patrick Hill played from at Fairfax 03,04,05 and as mention started for 3 years at the university of Miami, spent tome with the titans.

  46. Sean King
    Posted July 20, 2019 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    Mr. Flores,
    I don’t know how you failed to mention Poly HS running back in 08-10, #7 Kevin Ervin. Three year career he rushed for over 5300 yards, over 2000 yards in both 2009 and 2010, 66 career TD’s, and averaged over 11 yards per carry! In his junior year he rushed for 2300 yards and 35 TD, averaging over 13 yards/carry, with a career game against Granada Hills where he lit up the scoreboard with 6 TD’s and 409 yards on the ground! Had Poly not had a holding penalty on an 80-yard TD run, Kevin would have rushed for almost 500 and had 7 TD’s that night at John Elway Stadium! Kevin definitely belongs on the list of all time great running backs in the LA City Division!

    • Ronnie Flores
      Posted July 21, 2019 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Sean, I will definitely consider him more closely on the next update and for the all-around list. Thanks for pointing that out.

  47. Erik McKEEDECK
    Posted October 19, 2020 at 10:46 pm | Permalink


  48. Robert Bledsoe
    Posted November 7, 2021 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for mentioning The Great Charles DrakeIII WESTCHESTER HS.98 Michigan99-03
    NY Giants NFL 🏈👑🙏🏽🕊

  49. Elijah Asante
    Posted December 11, 2021 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Thanks Ronnie for giving Rickey Thenarse some love. Check out the Rickey Thenarse Story on College Game Day. Also, Freeman McNeil was a complete monster and in my humble opinion the GOAT!!! Thanks for putting in the time for a great list that inevitably leaves out some deserving athletes.

  50. Drew
    Posted August 23, 2023 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    What about Herschel Dennis? He didn’t make any lists

    • Mark Tennis
      Posted August 23, 2023 at 11:20 am | Permalink

      Herschel is Southern Section, not LA City.

  51. chris
    Posted September 27, 2023 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    what about Malcolm Thomas from panorama High School ? did he make an list

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