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Former Inland Stars Power USC Trojans

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By Gary Montgomery, BVN Staff Writer –

Clichés are as common in sports as bad grammar. “You have to lay it all on the line” or “Their will to win” are some of my favorites – usually thrown around by sportscasters just to improve their cool rating. Sports fans get so accustomed to clichés that most of the time they go in one ear and out the other without a thought about what is really being said.

After watching the Trojans offensive line handle the Cal Bears on Saturday, one often used cliché kept coming to mind. “Football games are won in the trenches.”

And that is exactly what got the party started for USC on Saturday.

The Trojans’ mammoth frontline took charge early and gave Matt Barkley all the time he needed to drive Cal’s secondary crazy. After scoring two quick touchdowns in the air and securing a 14-0 lead, USC turned to the running game with equal success.

The Trojans fourth possession produced their third touchdown when tailback Mark Tyler sprinted around the left side and dashed 11- yards down the sideline for the score.

One of the biggest reasons Tyler found running room on the left side is Moreno Valley’s Tyron Smith.

At 6-5, 280 pounds, Moreno Valley Rancho Verde’s Tyron Smith anchors the left tackle position clearing the way for running backs and just like in the movie has the quarterback’s “blind side”. Smith a true junior in his second year as a starter has become one of the most dependable members of the frontline.

A celebrated recruit from Rancho Verde in 2007 Smith was Parade All-American along with a host of other awards too numerous to list here. During his three seasons at Troy, Smith has quietly become one of the team’s leaders.

“We had to pull together and get it done. We always knew what we were capable of, we just had to come together and show everybody else what we could do,” said Smith about Saturday’s effort.

Smith opens gaping holes for all of the tailbacks including another former Inland Star. Two weeks ago against the Washington Huskies, tailback Allen Bradford, a Colton product rushed for 221-yards on 21 carries. More than half of Bradford’s 21 carries were running behind the Smith’s powerful blocks.

Senior cornerback and former Colton High star Sharecee Wright is the Trojan’s defensive leader and is regarded by most as the best defensive player on the field. Lane Kiffin said before the season that Sharecee Wright was the best natural cover corner that he had ever seen.

“I hadn’t said anything (during losses) but I had to finally say something. I told the guys that we weren’t playing our football game, not calling anybody out but I had to say what I had to say and I think the guys listened to me. I probably should have spoken up before,” said Wright.

Both Inland seniors, Wright and Bradford spoke to the team before Saturday’s game. Obviously, both have politics in their futures USC played the most inspired and complete football game Trojan fans have seen two seasons.

Scoring 42 points in the first half, USC gave Cal its worst halftime deficient in school history. An astonishing and incredible feat considering that USC was only a slight favorite and was picked in preseason polls to finish behind the Bears in the Pac-10.

“They certainly did some things that they hadn’t done before,” said Cal’s Coach Tedford. “We missed a lot of plays and dropped passes in big situations but the bottom line is somebody’s got to make some plays.”

There are lots of theories as to the origin of USC’s newly found superpowers. The discussion will likely continue right up until their game against Number 2 Oregon in two weeks with little agreement anywhere but you can bet that the Inland Stars will be giving regular pre-game speeches.

Gmontgomery can be reached at sports@blackvoicenews.com

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