El Camino College will be invited to play in the Pony Bowl if the Warriors win the South Coast Conference football title, a bowl official has said.
Pony Bowl Director Keith Caulkins of Saddleback College said earlier this week that the bowl committee has decided to extend invitations to the champions of the South Coast and Mission conferences. The game will be held Dec. 5 at Orange Coast College.
With two games remaining, El Camino holds a 1 1/2-game lead over its nearest competitor, Golden West College and a two-game margin over Pasadena City College.
The Warriors are at Pasadena on Saturday for a 1:30 p.m. contest, then finish the season with a home game against Golden West. Any combination of wins or ties would give El Camino its first conference title since 1971. A pair of losses probably would eliminate the Warriors.
"There's no question we must win our final two games," said El Camino Coach John Featherstone, who later added, "We could loose both if we don't play well."
Orange Coast College and Saddleback College are tied for the Mission Conference title. If the race ends that way, Orange Coast would be declared the champion, according to Caulkins, because it beat Saddleback earlier.
El Camino also might receive an invitation to play in the Shrine Potato Bowl, probably against either Bakersfield or Taft. That game will be played Dec. 5 in Bakersfield.
"We won't be making an announcement until at least Monday," saids Kern County Shrine Secretary Loren Fote. He said that game officials are waiting to see the results of Saturday's games before making a decision. Announcements on bowl bids began last Tuesday.
Fote also said that Shriners are concerned that Taft (8-0), currently ranked No. 1 in the state ahead of No. 2 El Camino, may turn down an offer to participate in the Potato Bowl because "they have been in the game so many times in the past."
A Bakersfield loss last week to Glendale in a crucial Western State Conference game also hampered any early announcement by Shrine officials.
Many people would like to see a Taft-El Camino game to decide the state and possibly the national community college title.
The new bowl speculation has excited El Camino officials, who a week ago faced the possibility of going undefeated and not being invited to a post-season event. There was speculation that Taft and Bakersfield had a lock on the Potato Bowl bids and that pressure was mounting in Orange County for the Pony Bowl to hold a rematch between Orange Coast and Saddleback.
Caulkins squelched those rumors. "El Camino is an excellent football team," he said. "We'd love to have them in the Pony Bowl."