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Pierce to Resume Football Next Season; Enger Named as Coach

December 05, 1987|RICH TOSCHES | Times Staff Writer

Pierce College has hired a new head coach and will resume its football program in the fall of 1988, the school announced Friday. Pierce fielded the most dominant local junior college football team for three consecutive years before a lack of money and the departure of the coach forced the team to disband in 1986 and 1987.

Bob Enger, 52, the former coach at East Los Angeles College who guided the Huskies into the state junior college championship game in 1968, was named head coach. Enger, who also has been head coach at Cal State Los Angeles and Bell and Cantwell highs, has not coached since 1983, when he left Cantwell of Montebello to assume a full-time teaching position at East L. A.

At Pierce, Enger will join the faculty of the business department, specializing in real estate. He is the school's first head football coach to serve as an instructor outside the physical education department.

"It is with a great deal of anticipation and, quite frankly, a great deal of relief, that we are able to reinstate our football program and secure Bob Enger as our coach," Pierce President David Wolf said at a news conference. "We are delighted that he was available and when we found out that he might be interested, we jumped at it."

The football team won three consecutive Southern California Conference championships before it was disbanded after the 1985 season. School officials cited budget problems and the loss of head coach Jim Fenwick, who left to become an assistant coach at Cal State Northridge. Efforts to revive the program in 1986 and 1987 failed because of stringent state junior college regulations on hiring.

Steve Butler, the head coach at West Los Angeles College and a physical education instructor, was offered the job and accepted it early last year. But Los Angeles Community College District officials would only allow an exchange of teachers between the two schools. When no acceptable candidate was found to move from Pierce to West Los Angeles College to replace Butler, the plan was scrapped and Pierce endured its second consecutive year without a team.

Enger was contacted about the job last winter by John Farhood, Pierce's dean of academic affairs. Farhood attended UCLA with Enger and also served with him as an assistant coach at East L. A. for five years. But Enger told Farhood he was not interested.

Then, while watching this season's UCLA-Oregon game at the Rose Bowl, Enger said the urge to coach returned.

"I missed coaching," he said. "Maybe it was male menopause. But when I watched UCLA play that day all the old feelings returned. I told my wife after the game that I thought I might want to get back into coaching. Her reaction? You mean after she hit me?"

Enger called Farhood a few days later and within the week he was offered the job at Pierce. He said his immediate concern is recruiting.

"I know we're behind everyone else," he said, "but we'll catch up. I don't intend to slide through a losing season and blame recruiting. I intend to win the championship next year. I wouldn't bet a whole helluva lot on it, but I wouldn't bet against it, either.

"I don't mean to sound cocky, but I have a lot of confidence in my football coaching abilities. If I can get a few of the right people with me, I'll beat you."

Enger said he would start an immediate search for as many as eight assistant coaches.

"And recruiting starts Monday," he said.

The team will participate in the expanded Western State Conference.

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