Nathan Chandler I: In the early moments of Pasadena's 54-17 season-opening win at Glendale, Chandler scrambles down the left sideline. He looks like he's about to step out of bounds, but instead stops and lowers his shoulder into a Vaquero defender who was about to lower the boom. The Glendale defender goes flying out of bounds instead.
Triple Fridge: In their season opener vs. Valley, Long Beach goes to a unique offensive alignment in goal line situations: Linemen Noah Ofaki Pouono, Lateef Smith and Deshawn Gibbs line up as running backs and backup Quarterback Brandon Fasavalu enters the game. Reminiscient of the '85 Chicago Bears' use of William "the Refrigerator" Perry as a running back, the strategy proves successful as the Vikings score 4 times on 1-yard runs (two by Fasavalu and one each by Gibbs and Smith) and win, 40-15.
Jonathan Smith I: In week 2 vs. East LA, Smith piles up 240 yards running, receiving and returning kicks and scores 4 touchdowns. This comes after a relatively quiet week 1 vs. Glendale, but starts him off on a season of record-breaking and helps Pasadena to a 45-10 win.
Alvin Marshall I: In week 2 vs. Santa Monica, Marshall amasses 192 yards running, receiving and returning kicks and scores 2 touchdowns. In the game's key sequence, Marshall shows how dangerous he is every time he gets the ball by returning the 2nd half kickoff 63 yards. The Corsairs had apparently recovered a fumble moments earlier, but an off-sides penalty nullified that play and gave El Camino and Marshall another chance. Marshall makes sure that's all they would need in their eventual 42-10 win.
Bakersfield Explosion: After one quarter, Moorpark led the Renegades, 3-0, and had the ball. By halftime, it was 35-3 Bakersfield as five different BC players scored touchdowns in the same quarter! Safety James McGill starts the explosion with a fumble-causing sack, and later scores Bakersfield's 6th TD on a fumble return in the 3rd quarter. The final: 49-3.
Ground Glendale: In week 4 vs. East LA, the Vaqueros uses a strong running game to secure the win. That day I was sitting in the stands with the Jones family, and late in the 4th quarter Glendale RB Wes Jones breaks through for a game-clinching 42-yard TD run. This is the kind of thing that makes one realize how much fun these games can be. Final: Glendale 21, East LA 13.
Canyons Explosion: After a somewhat shaky 1-1 start, nobody knows what to expect from a COC squad that had been picked to contend for the So Cal championship. The result: a school-record 63-7 win as 8 different Cougars scored touchdowns.
Orlando Evans: In CCSF's much-anticipated matchup with Sacramento, Evans has a hand in all 7 Ram touchdowns with 5 TD passes and 2 TD runs in the convincing 50-22 win.
Upset I: Santa Rosa's high-flying pass attack visits Chabot, who entered the game 1-3. SR's Tony Keefer passes for 488 yds and 3 TDs, but Chabot's Rich Da Prato shows he's a quality QB himself by throwing for 202 yds and 2 TDs. On the play that turns the game in the Gladiators' favor, Da Prato notices nobody is lined up opposite WR Santos Rodriguez along the right sideline and audibled at the line. The result is a 47-yd game-tying TD just before halftime, and an eventual 30-27 win over Santa Rosa, undefeated and ranked #3 in the North at the time.
Jonathan Smith II: By this time, Smith is firmly entrenched as Pasadena's feature runner, and Pasadena has reached the #1 spot in the Southern polls. In the game vs. Mt. SAC, Smith starts setting records. The first of many to fall is the Pasadena single-game rushing mark, as Smith runs for 317 yds on 26 carries in a 46-27 win.
Alvin Marshall II: El Camino ends up on the short end vs. Cerritos, but don't blame Marshall. In a spectacular performance, Marshall tops the 100-yd mark rushing, receiving and returning kicks for 365 yds in all. He scores 3 TDs and when the Warriors scored their final TD he's on the sidelines catching his breath after a 62-yd run to the Cerritos 7.
Mike Harrison: In the same game, Cerritos QB Mike Harrison completes his first 10 pass attempts. On the night, he goes 13 of 18 for 257 yds and 2 TDs in the 41-31 win.
Chad Metlak: In a 38-28 loss at Glendale, Pirate QB Metlak goes 15 of 22 for 205 yds and 4 TDs. Ventura drops to 2-5, but it's just the beginning for Metlak, who would throw 5 TDs the next week, starting Ventura on a win streak that enables them to finish at .500 for the season.
First Quarter Disaster: Allan Hancock had about the worst first quarter imaginable in their game vs. College of the Canyons. Three turnovers, 6 penalties (including 3 pass interference calls) and just 1 first down on offense adds up to a 17-0 deficit. But AHC makes it within to a yard of overcoming that awful start on 2 TD runs by Michael Gaddy followed by a drive to the COC 1-yard line. But the Cougars hold on 4th and goal from the 1 and end up winning a 34-14 decision.
Upset II: Pasadena enters 7-0 and ranked #1 in the South. El Camino enters 2-5. And ECC's first pass of the day is intercepted, and a Jonathan Smith TD soon follows. In comes backup QB Ron Venters, and when it's over El Camino has a 30-23 win. Venters goes 20 of 33 for 273 yds and 3 TDs. But the Warrior defense does the job as well, holding Pasadena to a mere field goal in the 2nd half.
The way the ball bounces: On the first play from scrimmage, a Long Beach pass is intercepted. On the next play, a Cerritos pass is right to a LBCC defender, who instead of making the catch deflects the ball into the waiting arms of Cerritos WR Chris Chatman in the end zone. Cerritos ends up with a 28-23 win with the game's final TD coming on a touchdown pass by Harrison which follows (of course) another LBCC interception.
Meaningless Stats: The home team outgains the visitors 311-180. The home team's top rusher gains 168 yds on the ground. The visiting team's QB goes 4 of 14 for 35 yds. But with the Division title on the line, it's Bakersfield who ends up on top with a 21-16 win at Glendale. The winning score comes on a TD pass, one of Dennis Dubois' 4 completions on the day.
Jonathan Smith III: In a 51-12 win at Cerritos, Smith has the best game of his season for the ages. Breaking his 3-week-old school record (and the Mission Conference record as well), he rushes for 365 yds. He sets a PCC record (and tied the Mission Conference record) with 6 TDs. He also catches 5 passes for 102 yds and returns 2 kicks for 60 yds to give him 515 all-purpose yds for the night, an all-time national JC record (breaking the mark held by Jason Sehorn). And he also breaks the school mark for scoring in a season, topping the mark previously held by Jackie Robinson.
Nathan Chandler II: A week after Smith got all the headlines, it's Chandler's turn (again). In a Division-clinching 55-14 win over Long Beach, Chandler throws 6 TD passes to raise his season total to 26, a PCC school record.
Meaningless Stats II: In a game that has no Bowl or rankings implications, Citrus raises their record to 5-5 with a determined 23-18 win at LA Valley. The Owls are outgained 387-128 on the night, but the Citrus defense refuses to lose. Two of the Citrus touchdowns are on fumble returns, and the other TD and the field goal are immediately after recovered fumbles. Citrus ends with 14 yds rushing on 31 attempts but gets the win.
Crazy finish: The Western State Bowl is tied 14-14 with less than 7 minutes left. By the time it's over, College of the Canyons escapes with a 35-32 win. In other words, within 7 minutes the teams combine for 5 TDs and a field goal after scoring 2 TDs each in the first 53 minutes. And it isn't over until Saddleback's final on-sides kick attempt bounces off a COC player only to be recovered by another COC player with 8 seconds left.
The 1-yard punt return: Palomar has to know it isn't their day when their first punt of the day is returned 1 yard...by defensive lineman Raoul Lindsay! I've been watching football all my life and I'd never seen this happen before. The kick is low, and Lindsay jumps to try to block it, but when the ball hits his hands he makes the catch! Three plays later, CCSF scores the first of 8 TDs (they also get 2 FGs) in their 61-12 Championship game victory.
It was a fun season, with a lot of great football. I can hardly wait til next September!