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Southland Small College Preview : Azusa Pacific Goes After National Fame With an International Talent

September 03, 1986|ALAN DROOZ | Times Staff Writer

There's a new face at Cal State Northridge--first-year Coach Bob Burt--and some familiar ones at Azusa Pacific, Occidental, Cal Lutheran, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Redlands and Pomona-Pitzer that should make this an interesting football season for the Southland's small colleges.

The familiar faces include several of the nation's top small college quarterbacks--Tom Bonds at Cal Lutheran, Robbie Bristow at Pomona-Pitzer, Mark Van Allen at La Verne, Robert Perez at Cal Poly SLO and Chris Parker at Northridge--and some top running backs, including Mike Kane of Northridge, Jim Gleed of Cal Poly SLO and Christian Okoye, originally of Nigeria, of Azusa Pacific.

In the national picture, Azusa Pacific is ranked seventh in one preseason poll, and Occidental is ninth in another.

Occidental, Redlands and Whittier are expected to be the top contenders in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Cal Poly SLO, Northridge and Cal Lutheran are relatively unknown quantities in the widespread Western Football Conference, which was dominated last year by Santa Clara and Sacramento State.

Here's a capsule look at the Southland teams:

AZUSA PACIFIC 1985 RECORD--7-2 overall

Playing as a small college independent, the Cougars have one of the nation's most intriguing players in the 6-foot 3-inch, 255-pound Christian Okoye at tailback. Starting only his third season in football, Okoye, who came to the United States as a track star, is an NFL prospect who is nearly unstoppable on the small college level. He has averaged about 130 yards a game since becoming a starter midway through the 1984 season. Despite his size and strength, Okoye runs 40 yards in 4.5 seconds and has a long jump mark of 23 feet. Quarterback Dave Titchenal, running the veer offense, should be able take advantage of defenses ganging up on Okoye, and there is more reason for optimism. The Cougars have 13 starters returning, including their entire offensive line, and expect to be stronger on defense, where two linemen and two linebackers are back. The secondary, however, has only one player returning. Coach Jim Milhon's team will open at home Sept. 13 against La Verne.

CAL LUTHERAN 1985 RECORD--6-5 overall, 1-4 conference

The party line in Thousand Oaks is that Lutheran's starting lineup can compete with any in the Western Football Conference. There may be problems, though, if the Kingsmen lose any starters and have to go much deeper than 23 players. Junior quarterback Tom Bonds ranked eighth in Division II passing efficiency last year, throwing for 2,427 yards and 17 touchdowns. Two of his favorite targets are back, all-conference tight end Darren Gottschalk, a 6-4, 240-pound senior who caught 40 passes for 536 yards and 6 touchdowns last year, and wide receiver Joe Fuca, who caught 33 passes for 692 yards. The offense also has running back Tracy Downs, who gained 386 yards and scored 6 touchdowns last year. The offensive line is strengthened by 6-5, 280-pound transfer Andy Dickerson, who played on Miami's national championship team in 1984. Coach Bob Shoup's defense will be quick but not very deep. The Kingsmen will open at home Sept. 13 against San Francisco State.

CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE 1985 RECORD--4-7 overall, 1-4 conference

New Coach Bob Burt, the defensive coordinator at Cal State Fullerton a year ago, has scrapped last year's run-and-shoot offense but still has his two threats, Mike Kane and Chris Parker. Kane is the Matadors' all-time rushing leader with 2,007 yards in three years but has missed many league games the last two seasons. Parker holds school records for pass completions and total offense. Burt suggests that a more balanced attack will take some of the pressure off Parker this year. The defense is led by linebacker Reggie Wauls, who led the team with 126 tackles last season, and nose guard Darrell McIntyre, the sack leader the last two years. The Matadors will open Sept. 13 at Sonoma State.

CAL POLY SAN LUIS OBISPO 1985 RECORD--4-7 overall, 2-3 conference

The Mustangs should be solid on offense. Robert Perez accounted for 1,547 yards and 6 touchdowns passing, and Jim Gleed rushed for 814 yards and 8 touchdowns. Wide receiver Lance Martin had 23 receptions and an 18.4-yard average. The strength on defense appears to be at linebacker, where leading tackler Rich Bosselmann is back. He should get support from Tom Gallo and Tom Carey. The player with the best statistics may be junior punter Kevin Emigh, who averaged 40.7 yards a punt as a sophomore. The Mustangs will open at home Sept. 13 against Chico State.

OCCIDENTAL 1985 RECORD--8-2 overall, 5-0 conference

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