SAN DIEGO — Five games into the 1989 community college football regular season, Palomar College had won only once. But the Comets have won their past five games and now are ready for the first postseason game in their 45-year history.
Palomar (6-4), the Mission Conference South Division champion, will play Ventura (7-3) in the fifth Hall of Fame Bowl at 1:30 p.m. today at Balboa Stadium.
Ventura, the third-place team in the Western State Conference, won its first seven games before losing its final three.
Behind Palomar's turnaround is second-team All-American quarterback Scott Barrick, the Comet's third national passing leader in four years.
Barrick, a former San Diego State and Fallbrook High quarterback, was instrumental as Palomar set one national, seven conference and 18 school records this season.
With 248 pass completions, Barrick is the nation's single-season leader--breaking the mark of 233 set by Palomar's Duffy Daugherty in 1988. His 3,225 passing yards and 449 attempts (three short of the national record) broke Daugherty's conference marks of 3,006 and 433.
In Palomar's season finale--a 49-28 victory over Southwestern--Barrick completed 40 of 57 passes for 478 yards in only three quarters. All three marks were single-game Mission Conference highs.
Eric Hansen, who caught a school-record 15 passes in that game, and Chris Chiarappa became the first two teammates in conference history to gain more than 1,000 yards receiving in the same season. Chiarappa, the conference leader with 73 receptions, finished with 1,218 yards, breaking the conference record of 1,190 set by Orange Coast's Junior Tagaloa in 1987. Hansen, a tight end who missed one game with a shoulder injury, had 72 receptions for 1,004 yards.
Chiarappa and Hansen were honorable mention All-Americans.
"I'm not sure what all the records mean," Barrick said, "but it's nice. It's fun to have the records to go along with a winning season."
With all the passing yards accumulated by Palomar's no-huddle, shotgun offense, the Comets can the run, too. In a 28-21 victory over Grossmont, Palomar gained 260 rushing yards on 63 carries.
Said Palomar Coach Tom Craft, a former quarterback at SDSU, "Our style of play is making people change their defensive scheme."