By the time Harbor College found out it would field a football team this year, several prospective players had decided to take their skills elsewhere.
Though Seahawk Coach George Swade said he cannot estimate how many players he lost while district officials debated the fate of the school's football program, the team's lack of depth indicates the delay was costly. Only after a June 30 district decision did Swade begin his scramble to organize his team for its opening game a month later.
"I'm sure it hurt us. But how much, I can't say," Swade said. "Depthwise we're really hurting. We're very thin."
And while the starting unit has been impressive in the first four games, the lack of bench strength has been costly. It was never more apparent than in Harbor's 50-21 loss to Valley College on Saturday.
The Monarchs broke a 21-21 tie with a score late in the third quarter and outscored the worn-down Seahawks, 23-0, in the final period. "We played them tight, but then the dam just broke," Swade said.
One reason Harbor tired in the last quarter may have been the aggressive--or "dirty," as Swade called it--play of Valley. "There were a lot of late hits," Swade said. "If I had kids with that kind of talent, I'd teach them how to play football properly."
Still, Harbor is pleased to be in the running for the Southern California Conference title. The Seahawks are 2-2 overall, 1-1 in league.
But the team's competitiveness has not taken Swade by surprise. After the first half of Harbor's 20-7 opening victory over Moorpark, Swade knew the team was talented.
"I saw some good things and at half time I knew we had the potential for a very good football team. Barring further injuries, we still do."
Three players are out with injuries, and Swade is contemplating using some players on both offense and defense. "I'm hoping we don't have to, but we're prepared. You never know."
There are 53 players on the roster, but 15 "are kids who played B football in high school" and who practice but do not play in games, Swade said. That leaves the team with 38 players--"and two of those are kickers," the coach added.
If the Seahawks weren't shorthanded against Ventura College, they could be 3-1, Swade said. Harbor lost that one, 45-25, with four linebackers out with injuries or for personal reasons, the coach said. "We were missing two outside linebackers and two inside linebackers. When they found out they could run on us, they just did it."
Still, the team showed a lot of character and has continued to do so, Swade said.
"The kids realize we're shorthanded," Swade said. "We're not going to lie down and die. These are good football players. We just have to execute very well, play with intensity and hope we get a lot of breaks."
Swade is still looking for a few good men--make that any men . "Anybody that walks around here we try to get them," Swade said. "If they pass the eyeball test, they're in."
Harbor plays host to Rio Hondo at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
What a Win Can Do: Encouraged by an impressive come-from-behind 28-17 victory over undefeated Mt. San Antonio College last weekend, El Camino College football Coach John Featherstone said the Warriors are confident about Saturday's South Coast Conference clash with Cerritos College at 7:30 p.m. at El Camino.
"We feel good again," Featherstone said. "It was great for the kids to win a football game."
It was also heartening to see the return of some offense. The Warriors scored four touchdowns after managing only 23 points in the first three games.
El Camino had lost its first three after being picked to contend for the title in the newly aligned conference. But Saturday's victory came at an opportune time for the Warriors--in their conference opener. So the 1-3 Warriors are undefeated in conference play.
One sign that an athlete has hit it big is when he gets his own bubble gum card.
Former Loyola Marymount University baseball star Tracy Jones, who had a successful rookie year with the Cincinnati Reds when he wasn't sidelined by injuries, officially went big time this month when he got his first baseball cards--on post-season, updated sets produced by the Fleer and Donruss companies. He is expected to be in the set that will be released later in October by Topps, the best-known sports card company.
Jones is the second Loyola player to be pictured as a big leaguer on a baseball card. The first was pitcher Chuck Baker, who played briefly for the Padres and Twins and was on a card in 1979.
Jones, a Hawthorne native, hit .349 for the Reds.