Jim Bittner's least favorite game during football season is musical quarterbacks.
But it's one at which the Moorpark College coach has become adept.
This year's contestants are Andy Ramos, Dan Nagelmann and Dave Sommer. Bittner says he would much rather have one first-string quarterback, but until one emerges he is content to rotate three players.
"They all see themselves as the starting quarterback and that's the way we want them to feel," Bittner said.
Ramos was a starter at Valley College as a freshman in 1985 but suffered torn cartilage in his right knee in the second game of the season. He underwent arthroscopic surgery and spent the past year rehabilitating.
After he recovered, Ramos decided to trade one crowded situation--Valley rotated three quarterbacks last season--for another. He phoned Bittner to inquire about his chances of playing.
"Bittner told me the quarterback job was wide open," Ramos said. That's why I came over here."
Nagelmann and Sommer, both 5-11, are sprint-out quarterbacks. Ramos, 6-5, provides a deep passing threat.
"His major strength is that he has a strong arm and he's tall. He sees the field really well," Bittner said of Ramos.
Sommer was a quarterback at Simi Valley High in 1985. He attended Moorpark last year but didn't try out for football.
Nagelmann, a sophomore from Thousand Oaks High, started four of Moorpark's nine games last season. He was not recruited by four-year schools out of high school until he threw seven touchdowns in the 1986 Ventura County all-star game. He opted for Moorpark instead of becoming a walk-on at Montana.
Steve Armstrong and Steve Haddad split time with Nagelmann last season. Haddad, currently a backup at Toledo, started the last four games after Nagelmann sprained his thumb. Armstrong is not playing football.
Nagelmann is one of 20 starters--10 on offense and 10 on defense--returning from a team that went 6-3 and finished second in the Western State Conference.
The quarterback, whoever it is, will be surrounded by plenty of talent in the backfield. Two top high school recruits will team with New Mexico transfer Mike Daniels and returners Kenny Durr and Dana Griffin at running back.
The Raiders have Ventura County's top two high school rushers of 1986 in Channel Islands fullback Ernie Tupua and Fillmore tailback Larry Roberts. Tupua rushed for 1,240 yards and 13 touchdowns while averaging 6.5 yards a carry. Roberts gained 1,175 yards.