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College Division : Switches Pay Dividends for SCIAC Teams

October 06, 1987|Mitch Polin

A change of position has made a big difference in the fortunes of the football teams at Occidental and Pomona-Pitzer colleges this season.

Occidental's Mike Sandlin was moved from defensive back to running back and Pomona-Pitzer's Ed Irick from fullback to quarterback, and both are among the rushing and passing leaders in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

In either case, it was a switch out of necessity.

Sandlin, a 6-foot 1-inch, 178-pound junior, went to Occidental as a running back. Unfortunately for him, the Tigers already had a pretty good running back, Vance Mueller--who now plays for the Raiders when they're not on strike.

Coach Dale Widolff decided to play Sandlin at defensive back, where the team needed more help. Sandlin played as a reserve safety his freshman season, then moved up to starter as a sophomore.

But Widolff, after evaluating his team's prospects at running back during the off-season, decided to switch the speedy Sandlin to tailback, and it has looked like a wise move. Sandlin is second in the conference in rushing with 355 yards and 3 touchdowns in 88 carries.

"Last year, our longest run from scrimmage was 18 yards, so I thought we needed a tailback with more speed," Widolff said.

The coach said that Sandlin is Occidental's best running back since Mueller. "In terms of measurable things such as speed, size and strength, Vance has the edge over Mike," he said. "But I think Mike's a little more deceptive than Vance and he's got good quickness."

Irick would have been a second-string quarterback last year behind Pomona-Pitzer's talented passer Rob Bristow. The Sagehens also needed a fullback, however, and the 5-11, 205-pound Irick fit the bill.

"I think at this level, you have to find a way to get your best athletes on the field and in this situation that was the case," Coach Clarence Thomas said. "When we have good athletes it gives us an option that some teams don't have. Of course, the question is whether or not he's better than the guy coming in (at that position)."

But with Irick returning, the coach didn't have to sweat over an answer.

Irick, a senior, is the leading passer in the conference, having completed 57 of 98 attempts for 777 yards and 5 touchdowns. With his 4.6-second speed in the 40-yard dash, Irick is also a good scrambler.

"He's a bigger and stronger guy than Bristow was," Thomas said. "He's more agile and he's capable of doing more things. He's just an outstanding athlete."

There's a good chance that Irick will not be the last Pomona-Pitzer player to make the switch to quarterback.

Thomas said that the Sagehens have another good passer in sophomore Ken Semko, who starts now at cornerback, and he will probably move to quarterback next season.

The Master's College, a Baptist school in Newhall with about 700 students, has never been regarded as a power in men's soccer.

At least, not until Mark Schubert arrived as coach two years ago.

Schubert took charge of a team that finished with a 2-15 record in 1985 and has rapidly transformed the Mustangs into a title contender in the National Assn. for Intercollegiate Athletics' District III.

The Mustangs finished with a 10-10-1 record last season and are 6-3 overall and 3-1 in the district, having lost only to district favorite Westmont.

The Mustangs may have scored their most important victory ever last week when they defeated Fresno Pacific, 3-2. It was their first win in 10 years over the Sunbirds, who were ranked No. 6 in the NAIA.

The Master's, which has been led in scoring by freshman forward Chris Palm, has another difficult matchup Thursday, when it visits Biola (8-2-2, 4-0) at 3 p.m.

It will be a Who's Who of National Collegiate Athletic Assn. Division II women's volleyball when Cal Poly Pomona plays host to the Bronco volleyball tournament from Thursday through Saturday at Pomona's Kellogg Gym.

The elite 16-team field will include Division II national champions from the last five seasons and Division I power Hawaii (11-0), which finished second in the nation last year after winning in 1982 and 1983.

Among the Division II participants are No. 2 Nebraska Omaha (12-1), No. 3 Cal State Northridge (10-4), No. 5 Portland State (10-4), No. 12 UC Riverside (3-7) and No. 18 Pomona (8-6). Riverside, the defending national champion, also won in 1982. Portland State won consecutive titles in 1984 and 1985, and Northridge won in 1983.

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