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Tuesday, September 29, 1992 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Making Turn In Crossroads -- Interlake's Wing-T Offense Takes Flight As Heglar's Saints Achieve Liftoff

Interlake High's Omar Rich looks at the three-day-old scrapes and cuts that cover his forearm.

"A little rug burn," he said. A little less skin. A few more bruises. A little of the price the 5-foot-7 running back is willing to pay for winning a few KingCo Conference football games.

"You kind of like it," he said of the wounds, "because it comes from a purpose."

And for the first time since Rich joined the football team as a sophomore, winning also comes with that purpose.

After going a combined 3-15 the past two seasons, Interlake has started 2-1, knocking off Crown Division-favorite Redmond 20-19 in the season opener and beating defending KingCo champ Inglemoor 35-21 last Friday.

"The Redmond win really got our confidence up," Rich said. "It made us feel we're going to be someone this year."

Just three weeks into the season, two Saints have been named Eastside Athletes of the Week: Rich this week for his 114-yard, three-touchdown performance against Inglemoor, and in Week One, Denny Kirkwood, who rushed for 196 yards and the winning touchdown against Redmond.

Despite the strength of unbeaten Crest Division rivals Mercer Island, Newport and second-ranked Bellevue, Rich said, "I seriously, really, really think we have a good chance (to win the division's lone playoff berth).

"It's going to be hard, but we've got a lot of heart, a lot of discipline. If they think it's `just Interlake,' they've got another think coming."

Threats? From Interlake?

Things have changed, indeed, in Crossroads these days.

"There's nothing different, really," Coach Bill Heglar said. "We're just hanging in there."

It's the same system, including a wing-T offense, that Heglar brought in when he took over in 1990. Only now it's starting to bloom.

And with the help of some extra cultivating in the offseason, Interlake now has the chance - with a victory over Juanita this Friday - to start 3-1 for the first time since Rollie Robbins coached the Saints to an 8-1 overall mark in 1987.

Factors making a difference this year seem to include:

-- The addition of offensive coordinator Al Russell, a former assistant to Head Coach Rollie Robbins at Interlake and Seattle Prep. "The man with the golden plan," as Rich calls him. Russell not only relates well to his players on offense, but he frees up Heglar - who had coached both sides of the ball - to concentrate on teaching defense. "We're right on the same wavelength," Heglar said. "He's a super addition for us."

-- The second-year conditioning program of Dino Scott (running coach) and first-year strength program of Pat Knight (weightlifting and line coach). Interlake boosters have contributed $1,500 each of the past two years to buy weightlifting equipment, and the school has walled off a portion of the cafeteria for a weight room. And with Heglar commuting from Sumner, where he teaches, to practice in Bellevue each day, the players have an hour of weightlifting and running everyday before Heglar starts practice. "Those kids are pretty glad to see me when I get there," Heglar said. And even happier after games recently. "Against Redmond, no one was really sucking wind," Rich said.

-- And natural size. The Saints, who have struggled the past two seasons to have even five players weighing more than 200 pounds, now have two linemen at more than 235, another two at more than 220 and three more still that weigh more than 200.

"Before, we were going 165, 175, 180," Heglar said.

"it's not really size," Rich said. "They're really strong."

Even the smallest man on the line, 5-11, 190-pound Chris Hashiguchi bench presses more than 300 pounds. He also was named the outstanding offensive lineman at Eastern Washington's football camp this summer.

The biggest lineman, Eric Galanti, a 6-3, 245-pounder, "had never touched a weight and comes in and benches 250," Heglar said. "We just maxed again last week, and he got 345."

Along with the size, comes speed behind it. Speed in Rich, receiver Rob Roach, fullbacks Denny Kirkwood and his twin, Bryan Kirkwood. All run the 40-yard dash in less than 4.8 seconds.

"It's coming together for us," said Heglar, in his 26th season and at his fifth high school as a head coach.. "But we certainly don't have it licked. We've got tough games ahead of us."

But this year, so do their opponents.

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WHEN SAINTS GO MARCHING

-- Interlake's 2-1 start in football is the best under third-year coach Bill Heglar. The Saints over the past 10 seasons: . Yr League Season Coach . . 1991 2-3 2-7 Bill Heglar. . 1990 0-5 1-8 Bill Heglar. . 1989 1-4 3-6 Gene Yerabek. . 1988 4-4 5-4 Rollie Robbins. . 1987 7-1 8-1 Rollie Robbins. . 1986 6-3 6-3 Rollie Robbins. . 1985 7-2 10-3 # Rollie Robbins. . 1984 5-4 5-4 Rollie Robbins. . 1983 6-2 6-4 # Rollie Robbins. . 1982 1-7 2-7 Rollie Robbins. . .

# -qualified for playoffs (lost playoff opener in 1983; advanced to state semifinals in 1985)..

Copyright (c) 1992 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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