FULLERTON'S D-COORDINATOR CASEY MAZZOTTTA
GOES UP AGAINST HIS ALMA MATER - AND FATHER
DATE: Sat., Sept. 22
SITE: Titan Stadium (CSU, Fullerton)
KICK-OFF: 1 p.m.
One of the most intriguing match-ups on Saturday's football slate, pits No. 2-ranked Cerritos at No. 9 Fullerton.
Not only does the game feature two Southern California unbeatens, it also involves a family fued of sorts.
Fullerton's new defensive coordinator, Casey Mazzotta, will sit in Titan Stadium's press box, calling plays in effort to stop a Cerritos offense- run by his father.
Frank Mazzotta has been the head coach at Cerritos College for the past 24 years.
Casey, a fomer two-time All-Mission Conference player at Cerritos, will have to put the family ties aside - at least for these three hours.
Still, he downplays the battle.
"This game is no different from the rest of the games on the schedule," says Casey.
But dad doesn't buy it.
"I know he wants to beat up on dad," says Frank.
"It's definitely going to be a chess match out there."
At age 30, Casey Mazzotta has already made a name for himself.
As a football player and coach, he's won championships and honors at every level.
Now, he has the responsibility of being one of the youngest college defensive coordinators in the nation.
Setting the trend, however, is nothing new to the Mazzotta name.
The Mazzotta bloodlines run deep in this sport.
"I was raised in football," says Casey.
"From the day I was born and as far as I can remember my dad coached football. I've always been around it."
Casey's brother, Frank Jr. (33), has also inherited the football veins - he's the head coach of La Habra High School.
As kids, the Mazzotta boys would spend the summers running around Falcon practice - "from sun up to sun down," says father, Frank.
"Those two would come home filthy dirty and dead tired at the end of the day. Our players really liked having them around; they'd take the boys to lunch and just hang out with them. They were part of the team."
Casey, an All-CIF player at Tustin High, later played for his father at Cerritos and got his first coaching job there.
As a player, Casey earned All-Mission Conference and Academic All-American honors as a freshman and sophomore at Cerritos (1990-91).
Twice, he earned the team's "hard worker" of the year award and was team captain as a sophomore.
In 1991, Casey helped lead the Falcons to an 8-3 record and the team's last division crown.
A football scholarship landed him at Brigham Young University, where as a safety, he won a 1993 Western Athletic Conference Championship and was voted onto the 1994 Academic All-WAC team.
After spending 1995 as a graduate assistant at Cerritos, Casey moved on as head coach at Foothill High (1995-98), then Bellflower (1999-00).
Each season, he guided both respective programs to playoff appearances.
Casey, who spent last season as the Hornets' secondary coach, has quickly earned approval from his players.
"He's the best coach I've ever played for," says sophomore safety Deonta Birdsong.
"He spends a lot of time on detail, like a perfectionist."
Casey says the hard work is bound to pay off.
"My goal is to help us a win conference title and then move on from there to bigger and better things."
Dad says Casey is only beginning what will be a long and successful career.
"I've learned a lot from both of my sons on how to coach today's student-athletes. In turn, they've help me build my own program at Cerritos."
So, who's mom (Helen) going to root for Saturday?
"There's no question," says dad, "she'll be cheering for Fullerton."
"I think Coach (Gene) Murphy reserved her a seat in the press box long before the season even started.
Whoever loses will have to buy the turkey on Thanksgiving."