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FALL NOTEBOOK : For Gershon, It's Better Sunia Than Leighton

October 29, 1987|STEVE HENSON | Times Staff Writer

With nine seconds left and the score tied last week, Channel Islands was at the Camarillo 14-yard line. It was decision time for Raider Coach Joel Gershon.

What to do? Easy. Kick a field goal, fast.

Who kicks it? Not so easy. Not so fast.

Gershon called a timeout to kick around the possibilities. . . .

\o7 John Sunia is 3 for 6 on field-goal tries and eight of 10 on conversions. He's been on the sidelines because of a bruised shoulder the entire fourth quarter, but this is his third varsity season and he kicks well under pressure.

Kenny Leighton stepped in when Sunia was hurt earlier this season and was superb, making his only field-goal attempt and hitting eight of nine conversions. Hmmmmm.

\f7 Gershon concluded he couldn't go wrong. "I have confidence in both of them," he said.

Leighton dashed onto the field with the kicking team, but a moment later Gershon sent in Sunia, who booted the 31-yarder for a 24-21 Marmonte League win.

"I kept thinking, 'Call on me. Call on me,' " Sunia said.

The victory kept Channel Islands (3-0, 6-1) unbeaten in league play, half a game behind Westlake (4-0, 5-2).

More bad news: Although pills supplied to Moorpark High football players by a volunteer assistant coach turned out to be niacin and salt tablets--not narcotics as authorities feared--the incident is the latest in a string of bad news for the Musketeers.

The team is 1-6 after a 42-14 loss to Nordhoff last Friday, and earlier in the year Moorpark suffered its 47th consecutive loss to Carpinteria, a streak that dates to 1934.

In the latest incident, the Ventura County district attorney's office is considering whether it will press charges against Larry Preston, 22, a Simi Valley resident who has been relieved of coaching duties at Moorpark. Preston told players the pills "would help their performance," a sheriff's investigator said.

The pill samples tested were supplied to the sheriff's department by Preston after Moorpark school officials called investigators two weeks ago.

Add Moorpark: There is good news at Moorpark this week, however, quite apart from horror stories of losing streaks and a coach dispensing pills to football players.

Despite the loss to Nordhoff last week, Coach Bob Noel might have found a quarterback to last him through the '80s. Rob Hernandez, a sophomore playing in his first varsity game, completed 17 of 29 passes for 175 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Also, Moorpark's girls volleyball team defeated perennial power Bishop Diego last week for the first time in school history. The Musketeers had lost 27 consecutive matches to Bishop Diego before the 15-8, 20-18, 15-13 Tri-Valley League win at Moorpark.

"It was an exciting victory for us," Coach James Park said. "People don't know much about our volleyball program but they are starting to talk about it now. I guess they're hungry for good news."

The losing streak with Bishop Diego dated to 1973 when both schools fielded teams for the first time, according to Bishop Diego Athletic Director Sam Cathcart.

Bishop Diego has been a volleyball power, winning four Southern Section titles in two divisions. Moorpark has never had a winning season.

Bishop Diego (9-5, 7-5 in league) has won so often, in fact, the Tri-Valley League has to compete in the 3-A Division. The league is 1-A in every other girls sport.

After four years as junior varsity coach, Park took over the varsity this season and has guided the team a 4-8 league record and 6-9 overall mark--its best start ever.

Moorpark's top players are middle blockers Kellee Roe and Anne Middleton. Against Bishop Diego, Roe had seven kills and eight blocks. Middleton had five kills and served 10 points in as row, including seven aces in the third game.

"I think we're developing that winning attitude," Park said. "We are starting to beat teams we've never beaten before and people are starting to talk about us being a playoff team."

Where are they now?: The starters from the Temple Christian basketball team who transferred after the school dropped its athletic program this year have ended up at four different schools. Point guard Mark Grcevich is at Buena, forward Lyonel Robinson is at Channel Islands, forward Harvey Jones is at Ventura and center Nathan Combes is attending a small Christian school in Maryland.

Although all are seniors, the transition from the Small Schools Division to the 4-A will be difficult for Grcevich, Robinson and Jones.

"Lyonel has the best chance of starting," said Marsha Dedrick, the Temple Christian athletic director. "He's an exceptional shooter."

Grcevich (5-8) started for three years at Temple Christian and believes the starting team could match up with Buena.

"The biggest difference is that Buena has more depth," he said. "At Temple, we could have matched them five-on-five."

Temple Christian's fine athletic tradition began with Darin LeGrange, an All-Southern Section baseball player in 1982 who went on to play shortstop at Fresno State.

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