Los Angeles Preps: Travis Averill

No more Mr. Nice Guy for Tuerk

October, 11, 2011
Max TuerkCourtesy Robert Russell Photography Max Tuerk has been sought after by most major Division I programs in the country.

RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA -- When he is off the football field, Max Tuerk is about as nice as they come. Well-mannered. Well-spoken. Well-liked.

Once he steps out on the gridiron and the Friday night lights begin to flicker, the whole Mr. Nice Guy approach immediately becomes a thing of the past.

Tuerk's demeanor changes, seemingly 180 degrees.

His nasty streak reveals itself. At that point, it is wise for opponents to avoid the 6-foot-5, 285-plus pound offensive tackle from Santa Margarita at all costs. Defensive lineman rarely fare well in one-on-one matchups with Tuerk. Linebackers stand little, or no, chance. Cornerbacks and safeties, forget about it, the senior is winning that battle every time.

“I like to think my parents brought me up the right way. They did,” Tuerk said. “If the ball is snapped though, I don't know what happens to me. I turn into a totally different person. I really can't explain it. My mentality changes, or something. It's all business.''

Tuerk & Co. have recently been taking care of business. Heading into Thursday's Trinity League opener against host Santa Ana Mater Dei, the Eagles (5-0 overall) are on a roll. In fact, they recently moved up to No. 2 in the ESPNLosAngeles prep football Top 25 rankings.

In terms of being recognized as one of the premier programs the Southland has to offer, Santa Margarita was expected to take the next step this season. Many observers would not have imagined the transformation happening quite this fast for the Eagles.

Tuerk has been largely, though not solely responsible for directing the ascent. Still, the USC-committed recruit deserves some credit for the success thus far.

“You could tell that Max was truly something special from start,'' Santa Margarita coach Harry Welch said.

Given the fact he is considered a living legend in Southern California circles and has closely monitored Tuerk's development since signing on as the Eagles' head coach a few short years ago, the seal approval from Welch is about as good as it gets.

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Football: Offensive players to watch in the Southland

September, 11, 2011
Jordan SimmonsCrespi HS athleticsCrespi lineman Jordan Simmons is one of many talented players the Southland has to offer this season.

With Week 1 of the prep football season officially in the books, we thought it best to take some time and talk about some of the premier players the Southland has to offer. Make no mistake, the talent pool around these parts is as deep as it has ever been.

For all intents and purposes, the list compiled below could very well serve as an early season all-star team, for the offensive side of the ball, that is. As for next week, expect an in-depth review of the top defensive players from the greater Los Angeles area.

So, without further adieu, let's get things started.

Quarterback: Temecula Chaparral's Matt Morin. Some might argue that San Clemente's Travis Wilson or Arroyo Grande's Brent Vanderveen are more deserving of recognition. Rightfully so, considering both are top-notch prospects. We'll stick with Morin, for the time being. The 6-foot-2 left-handed gunslinger makes things appear easy, more often than not, even in the most extenuating circumstances. The Pumas figure to go as far as the San Diego State-bound senior will take them this season. It will be interesting to see if he makes us look good with his selection at this position. Who knows, maybe we do know what we're doing around here. Only time will tell.

Running back: South Gate South East's Robert Lewis. This one was a no-brainer. He possesses tremendous speed and elusiveness. Lewis is a threat to score each time he touches the ball, out of the backfield, or in the passing game. And while Lewis is occasionally knocked for being somewhat undersized, at 5-10, 160 pounds, he has proven to be as tough as they come when called upon to pick up tough yardage in between the tackles. The senior, heading to Southern Methodist University (SMU), gained close to 2,000 all-purposes yards a season ago and scored 18 touchdowns. It is reasonable to expect a similar effort this time around.

Receiver: Inglewood's Derrick Woods. The 5-11, 185-plus pound senior is one of the most sought-after unsigned recruits in the country. He has scholarship offers on the table from a number of different schools, most notably powerhouse programs such as Alabama, Florida and Michigan. Here at home, Woods is hot commodity as well. Seemingly all of the Pac-12 Conference colleges have expressed varied levels of interest in him, none as much as nearby UCLA and USC. Where he ends up is anyone's guess. This much is certain: Woods is one to watch.

Receiver: Lakewood's Darius Powe. Eerily similar to the aforementioned Woods, Powe is another high-profile prospect who has not made a decision about his immediate future. Boise State, Nebraska and Miami are a few of the many programs who have offered him. His physical presence appears to be the biggest selling point to his potential suitors. At 6-2 and close to 200 pounds, the senior typically creates matchup problems when he's on the field. It doesn't matter if Powe lines up outside or in the slot, he gives opposing cornerbacks and safeties fits from start to finish.

Receiver: Carson's Darreus Rogers. He entered the all-important spring and summertime camp circuits slightly underneath the recruiting radar. But by the time September rolled around, Rogers was about as highly touted as any individual on the West Coast. One problem: College coaches and scouts, alike, appeared to be on the outside looking in given the fact the 6-1, 195-pound senior had already committed to USC. In two games this season, Rogers has gained more than 200 yards receiving each time. Rogers is in a class of his own in the Los Angeles City Section.

Tight end: Orange Lutheran's Christo Kourtzidis. Cliché or not, this kid is a man among boys once he steps out on the field. The 6-4, 240-pounder sticks out like a sore thumb once he puts on his cleats, shoulder pads and helmet. Kourtzidis has the quickness to get off the line fast, well before most of his opponents. He has the speed to stretch the field vertically, as well. Downfield, Kourtzidis possesses above average hands. In space, he makes people miss. Not to be outdone, in the running game, the Florida State-bound senior is a more than capable blocker.

Guard: Encino Crespi's Jordan Simmons. Name one of the country's top college, and chances are, the program has offered the 6-5, 325-pound senior a scholarship. At last check, Simmons had more than 30 schools interested in his services. Auburn and Florida are players. Georgia and Notre Dame are in the mix. Count Ohio State and USC as fans of Simmons. The decision about his final destination, however, does not figure to made until after the season.

Guard: Anaheim Servite's Travis Averill. Skill position players typically earn the most attention for a Friars team that has had its share of talented prospects in the not so distant past. Averill has proven to be the one capable of breaking the mold. The 6-4, 275-pound senior, bound for Boise State, does many things well. He uses his hands and feet rather well in the passing game. When Servite runs the ball, Averill is powerful enough to move the pile with relative ease.

Center: Bellflower St. John Bosco's Beau Boyster. By some accounts, no single player is as valuable to his respective team as the guy who snaps the ball to the quarterback. Boyster is all that. And then some. The 6-4, 285-pound senior, heading to Arizona, will likely be an integral part to the success of the Braves this season. Keep in mind, expectations are sky high for this group. We are talking about a team that appears poised for a prolonged postseason run.

Tackle: San Clemente's Kyle Murphy. The 6-6, 270-pound senior is pleasant to be around off the field, a likeable kid. Once the ball is snapped, no one is nastier. Murphy has a mean streak, to be sure. Perhaps his on-the-field demeanor is what separates him from most of his peers. Whatever the case, the future is bright. Murphy has a number of offers -- too many to count. Auburn, Florida, Notre Dame and Michigan are interested. UCLA and USC are a couple of other options for him.

Tackle: Santa Margarita's Max Tuerk. Out on the edge, his sole responsibility is to protect the signal caller. Truth be told, few Southland individuals do it better than the 6-5, 285-pound senior. USC coach Lane Kiffin and his staff know this all too well. Accordingly, they intently pursued Tuerk until he gave them a commitment in late May. All signs point to him making an immediate impact at the next level. In the meantime, it's full steam ahead for Tuerk and the Eagles.

Sean Ceglinsky covers preps for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.