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Big Games : Palisades vs. Santa Monica

September 26, 1985

The seventh annual Rotary Bowl at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Santa Monica College matches teams that blew big leads last week in losing their openers. Both should be ready to play this week, but Santa Monica may be readier than Palisades and should be favored.

Santa Monica leads the series, 3-2-1, and last year won, 28-7, as Viking Pat O'Hara threw for 140 yards and two touchdowns in his second game as varsity quarterback.

Santa Monica, ranked first in the Coastal Conference in the first CIF poll last week, probably will drop after losing to Loyola, 22-19, after holding a 19-7 halftime lead. Palisades, coming off a 1-8 record last year, got out to an 18-0 lead over Garfield but wound up losing, 19-18.

All-CIF quarterback O'Hara got Santa Monica off to a good start against Loyola by completing his first four passes for 77 yards and a touchdown. Three of the first four were caught by wide receiver Dominic Holland, including a 39-yard touchdown.

But O'Hara, who finished the game with 19 completions in 28 attempts for 235 yards and three touchdowns, also threw two interceptions, including one that was returned 79 yards for a first-half touchdown by Loyola safety Justin Gmelich.

Santa Monica Coach Tebb Kusserow took the blame for Gmelich's interception, saying the pass was a timing pattern and that Gmelich was shielded from O'Hara's view by the Loyola defensive end who had backed off the line of scrimmage.

But Kusserow said his team "didn't play very well in a lot of different areas. We made a list of 27 different (team) mistakes, and if any one of them had not occurred we might have won the game."

Palisades Coach Jack Epstein said his Dolphins also made mistakes against Garfield, including 45 yards in penalties on a Garfield scoring drive.

He said his kicking game (no extra-point placements and shoddy punting) "was almost non-existent, and that really hurt us." He may try new people at punter and place-kicker this week.

As for his chances against the Vikings, he said he had heard that Santa Monica "looked awfully good" against Loyola, and "they should be a little bit further advanced than we are." He said that last year (when Epstein was coaching at Narbonne) O'Hara "really chewed Palisades alive with his passing. If we had seven guys up front and nine in the secondary, we might have a chance."

Kusserow thinks the Dolphins' chances are much better than that. Against Loyola, he said, "our young offensive line and our linebackers played very poorly, and that's their strong point; their offensive line is huge. We'll have to improve by leaps and bounds to stand in against those guys."

He said he also understands that Palisades runs a veer-option offense and that "if that's true with those linemen, we have our work cut out for us."

Culver City at Mira Costa

Culver, which lost a lot of players to graduation, has surprised with wins over strong teams: a 20-13 defeat of St. Bernard in the opener and a 17-14 win over Blair last week.

But junior quarterback Frank Dolce, whose passing (257 yards in the two games) has sparked the Centaurs, badly sprained an ankle against Blair and may not be ready at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Mira Costa.

If Dolce can't play, the quarterback will be backup Hoon Hahn, who usually plays cornerback and wingback and does the place-kicking. If Hahn starts at quarterback, Culver Coach Fred Fuller said, "we will have to rely much more on the run," which hasn't been reliable.

Fuller said ace-back Lamonte Montgomery did not fare well against St. Bernard or Blair but that both had "very good and very large defensive lines. In the Blair game, Lamonte had a couple of runs that were exceptional and came when we needed them. He's had spots where he's looked good, and he's capable of playing much better."

Montgomery may have to be better against Mira Costa, which lost to Leuzinger in its opener but last week beat Torrance, 16-0, primarily with an opportunistic defense. Fuller said the Mira Costa defense intercepted four Torrance passes and recovered two fumbles in the first half.

Fuller said Mira Costa has a good running game and a junior quarterback, Dan Allen, "who is both a throwing and running threat."

Beverly Hills at Santa Barbara

Beverly Hills is 2-0 going into this one at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Santa Barbara, also 2-0 and ranked seventh in the CIF Coastal Conference last week.

But when the Normans defeated Harvard, 19-17, last week, the win came in the last second. It was, said Beverly co-Coach Bill Stansbury, "a very exciting game for the fans and one that will eventually drive me out of coaching."

Stansbury and co-Coach Dick Billingsley are still in charge this week primarily because junior Gary Milnik, who kicked a 33-yard field goal in the second quarter, also kicked a 43-yarder with one second to go against Harvard that gave the Normans the victory.

Beverly Hills got excellent punting from junior Alan Glazer, who averaged 43.2 yards on five kicks.

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