Healdsburg tougher with healthy Randolph

Healdsburg senior left tackle and defensive end Gary Randolph breaks a tackle during practice. (BETH SCHLANKER / The Press Democrat)

By ERIC BRANCH
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

His dad and his uncle were star linebackers at Healdsburg in the 1980s. His cousin, running back Mike Johnson, was the Sonoma County League’s co-MVP in 2000. Healdsburg senior Gary Randolph knows their achievements by heart. But how could he possibly forget? They remind him constantly.

“They’re always giving me stuff, saying I’m not as good as they were,” Randolph said with a laugh. “And they’re always talking about how it was so much harder back when they played.”

Randolph takes the good-natured razzing in stride. Maybe because he’s prepared to give it back this fall.

After an injury-plagued junior year, the 6-foot-1, 240-pound Randolph, a two-way lineman, is ready to continue his family’s proud gridiron tradition. Randolph, who plays left tackle and defensive end, missed about half his junior year with a torn meniscus in his right knee. As a sophomore, he tore the meniscus in his left knee twice. But his performance at LinemenInc, a summer camp in Stockton for the grunts up front, was a strong indication that he’s finally feeling healthy.

Among about 200 campers, Randolph was one of four awarded with a wooden sword, a nod to the camp’s gladiator theme. Randolph, who ran the 100 meters in the spring and has clocked a 4.81 40-yard dash, was recognized for his pass-rushing abilities.

“There’s no pain in my knees at all any more,” Randolph said. “I’m so ready and excited for season to start.”

That’s welcome news to Healdsburg coach Tom Kirkpatrick, who expects Randolph to add to his ’09 totals (46 tackles, 3 sacks).

Kirkpatrick says Randolph’s blend of size, speed and agility is rare.

“He’s a college-material kid,” Kirkpatrick said.

Randolph is just one reason Healdsburg, the smallest school in the Sonoma County league, could have its 18th straight winning season under Kirkpatrick.

Six-foot-3 senior George Brush (TE/DE) and senior Carson Seanor (RB/CB) are expected to star in two-way roles, and physical linebacker Travis Arreguin, the Greyhounds’ second-leading tackler in ’09, will be back in the middle. Senior cornerback Dom Tynan is also back after breaking his leg in the season’s sixth game last year.

In addition, Healdsburg has several intriguing first-year players. Junior Adam Hendrickson, who finished seventh at the state wrestling championships last year, will play linebacker. Matt Spillane, a 6-foot-5, 210-pound senior transfer from South Bend, Ind., is expected to see time at wide receiver, tight end and defensive end.

TEAM PREVIEW

HEALDSBURG
Coach: Tom Kirkpatrick (18th season, 151-49-1 record)
2009 record: 6-5, 3-3 SCL (T3rd)
2009 JV record: 7-3
Returning starters: OFFENSE (4): WR/TE George Brush, Sr.; RT Jordan Harrington, Jr.; LG Dom Passalacqua, Sr.; LT Gary Randolph, Sr.; DEFENSE (3): MLB Travis Arreguin, Sr.; DE George Brush, Sr.; DE Gary Randolph, Sr.
Players to watch: WR/DE George Brush: Six-foot-3 target ranked third in SCL with 7 TD catches in ‘09. RB/CB Carson Seanor: Elusive 160-pound senior is expected to play prominent role after rushing for 289 yards as a back-up last year.
Newcomer to watch: QB Max Opperman: Agile junior ready to step in for graduated starter Killian Collins.

SCHEDULE
Date – Opponent – Time

9-4 – vs. Piedmont – 7:30 p.m.
9-10 – at Alhambra – TBA
9-18 – at Piner – 1 p.m.
9-24 – vs. Acalanes – TBA
10-1 – vs. Petaluma – 7:30 p.m.
10-8 – at Analy – 7:30 p.m.
10-15 – vs. Sonoma Valley – 7:30 p.m.
10-22 – at Windsor – 7:30 p.m.
11-5 – vs. El Molino – 7:30 p.m.
11-12 – at Casa Grande – 7:30 p.m.

BY THE NUMBERS
0:
Losing seasons in Kirkpatrick’s 17 years as head coach.
5: TD catches by Brush in the final five games of the ‘09 season.
797: Last year’s enrollment at Healdsburg, the smallest school in the SCL.