Moments after quarterback Tom Bonds twisted his knee and hobbled off the field midway through Cal Lutheran's third game last season, the rest of the Kingsmen drooped into depression along the sidelines.
Without Bonds, CLU's fling-and-wing-it offense moved at the speed of a glacier. By the time Bonds bounced back, the season had sunk into a hopeless sea of injury that included waves of separated shoulders, blown-out knees and sprained ankles.
With that as a backdrop, all the king's horses and all the Kingsmen have reassembled themselves for the 1987 football season.
As in previous years, Bonds is the center of attention. The 5-10, 190-pound senior, who has passed for 5,783 yards, is within reach of the NCAA Division II career passing record held by Jim Lindsey of Abilene Christian. Lindsey set the mark (8,521 yards) from 1967-70.
If Bonds stays healthy he could 1) break the passing record and 2) lead Cal Lutheran to its first Western Football Conference win since 1985.
On the other end of Bonds' passes will be a new group of receivers. John Bankhead, a junior transfer from Southwestern College in San Diego, has surprised coaches with his speed (4.55 in the 40), second only to another newcomer--Art Black, who has run 4.53. The 5-10, 170-pound Black is a junior who began his college career at UCLA and later attended West L.A. College.
Senior Joe Monarrez, although a relative tugboat (4.75 in the 40), had 34 receptions for 557 yards and 6 touchdowns last year.
The offensive line has two starters returning: Steve James (6-5, 255 pounds) at right tackle and senior left guard Mark Duffy (6-0, 205).
Dave Siemiesz (6-3, 250), is the right guard. The remaining two positions on the line--left tackle and center--are being fought for by three JC transfers. Mark Jones (6-3, 240) is the tight end.
Smurf-like Tracy Downs, a 5-5, 185-pound senior, returns to the backfield, as does junior Noel Chesnut, who rushed for 248 yards before joining the list of wounded in the seventh game last season.
On the defensive line, Russell Patterson (5-11, 220), and George McKenzie, a 6-3, 250-pound transfer from Moorpark College, are the tackles. Rueben Solorio (6-3, 220), returns at one end and fifth-year senior Earl Bentancourt (5-10, 200) should play the other end position.
The outside linebackers are seniors Torii Lehr and Terry Rowe. In the middle it's a tossup between Mark McGrath, a junior from Saddleback College, and Billy Culpepper, a junior transfer from Eastern Arizona College.
The cornerbacks are Ted Briscoe, a transfer from Oxnard College, and Fred Buchman, a 5-10, 190-pound senior who was a part-time starter last year. Jeff Kelley, a transfer from Saddleback College and Brent Tunnell, a 6-2, 200-pound transfer from Weber State, are competing to start at free safety. The strong safety is senior David Moore.
Last season, Kent Sullivan averaged 40 yards a punt and he returns, as does kicker Kurt Lohse, a two-year starter.
CLU Coach Bob Shoup's preseason comments went along these lines: "It's a kind of hold-your-breath year again . . . If we can avoid injuries--and particularly keep Bonds healthy--we could have a good year. But if we have injuries again, well . . . "