JC athletics were hit hard by layoffs. The Canyons baseball team just hit. The era of the Kat ended. Veteran coaches left Pierce, Canyons and Northridge--one for USC. The CSUN volleyball team was disappointed again. The Brahma Bowl came--and went.
THE FALL FOOTBALL
After a dismal 3-7 record in 1984, Coach Tom Keele scrapped Cal State Northridge's run-oriented offense and put in a passing attack called the run-and-shoot. But as the run-and-shoot began firing pretty well during the 1985 season, the defense became sort of a run-and-be-shot outfit.
The result was another dismal season, and, a few weeks after it ended, Keele was fired after seven seasons at CSUN. School officials refused to give any details of the firing, but it was learned that Keele conducted an illegal tryout for kickers prior to the season and the NCAA had investigated the school.
The season began with a long bus trip to Reno, where the Division II Matadors faced the powerful Big Sky Conference Nevada-Reno Wolfpack of Division I-AA. Can you say "human sacrifice?" When the beating was over, Reno had handed the Matadors a 56-12 thrashing.
CSUN came back to beat St. Mary's and San Francisco State to close out the month of September, but then blew a 20-5 lead in the fourth quarter and lost to Cal State Hayward, 25-20. The Matadors rallied again, though, knocking off Sonoma State and Cal Lutheran and improved their record to a respectable 4-2 record.
Then, things got nasty.
They were clobbered by San Luis Obispo and UC Davis, before proving on Nov. 9 that they could also lose the close ones when they were beaten by Santa Clara, 21-19. Sacramento State pounded them the following week, 34-10, and Portland State mercifully put the Matadors to sleep for the season with a 4-7 record by routing them, 61-24, on Nov. 23.
When Keele installed the run-and-shoot offense following the 1984 season, he asked the question: "What do I have to lose?" A few weeks after the 1985 season he got his answer: Your job.
Considering their mediocre 6-5 record, the Cal Lutheran Kingsmen had big smiles as they walked off the field last Nov. 24. But the team was happy for more than just the fact that an injury-filled season as over.
Cal Lutheran had beaten Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, 29-24, to ensure a record of .500 or better for the 21st time in 24 seasons. And the victory was the school's first in the Western Football Conference. The Kingsmen joined the NCAA Division II WFC last season after having spent 23 years in the National Assn. of Interscholastic Athletics.
Sophomore quarterback Tom Bonds threw for 327 yards against Cal Poly SLO to cap a season in which he completed 178 of 319 passes for 2,427 yards and 17 touchdowns. Darren Gottschalk (40 catches for 536 yards), and wide receivers Greg Harris (44 for 805) and Joe Fuca (33 for 642) were Bonds' favorite targets.
Noel Hicks, a 5-6 running back, was Cal Lutheran's greatest ground threat. The senior gained 1,166 all-purpose yards, including 505 rushing, and averaged 5.2 yards per carry.
Playing mostly teams with greater depth and larger players, the Kingsmen defense was riddled with injuries. But linebacker Ken Wood, defensive end Shawn Tippit and lineman Mike Miller held the unit together.
After going 4-1 in pre-conference games, Cal Lutheran began WFC play against rival Cal State Northridge without Bonds, who had suffered a separated shoulder. CSUN edged the Kingsmen, 29-24, triggering a four-game losing streak, the longest in Cal Lutheran history.
The Kingsmen rebounded to defeat previously unbeaten Azusa Pacific, 30-27, in a nonconference game. The following week, they downed Cal Poly SLO.
In community college football, Pierce caught most of the headlines.
In November, the Brahmas won their third straight Southern California Conference championship to earn the right to appear in its own postseason bowl game, the Brahma Bowl. Pierce won that, too, defeating Moorpark for the second time during the 1985 season, 27-14.
The battle leading up to the game turned out to be even more interesting than the game itself.
Jim Fenwick wasn't particularly pleased about playing Moorpark for a second time. "There is nothing for us to prove," he said. And then there was the matter of money.
Pierce's share of the proceeds from the bowl game were originally scheduled to fund spring sports. Fenwick thought his team deserved the money, and threatened a boycott of the game.
Fenwick ended up winning the game, and the administrative battle.
The season ended on that note, but the news didn't.
In February, Fenwick resigned as Pierce coach to become a volunteer assistant at Cal State Northridge under Bob Burt. Fenwick retained his teaching job at Pierce.
Three months later, David Wolf, Pierce president, announced the school was eliminating its football and men's basketball programs because of a tight budget and the absence of qualified coaches to run the programs.