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FOOTBALL '93 : The Colleges: JUCOS : Foothill Schedule Gets Makeover as East L.A. Goes Under : Extra Game Against Conference Opponent Won't Affect Standings

September 02, 1993|FERNANDO DOMINGUEZ | TIMES STAFF WRITER

When East L.A. College dropped its football program in April for economic reasons, the decision affected not only those directly associated with the Huskies' program, but also other junior college teams in the Southland.

The move turned upside-down the 1993 Foothill Conference schedule, forcing conference schools to scramble at the last minute to replace the Huskies and left East L.A. players in limbo.

Some programs, however, benefited from the fallout by attracting players already at East L.A. or those fresh out of high school who were headed to the Monterey Park school. Glendale College, for instance, picked up several players who figure to start this season. But, as a whole, the situation created major headaches.

Those caught in the aftermath included Brent Carder, the Antelope Valley football coach, and his Foothill Conference counterparts. The sudden departure by East L.A. drilled holes into the conference schedule and the coaches had to quickly devise a plan to guarantee each conference team 10 games this season.

The coaches came up with a schedule that calls for each team to play one other team twice, once as a nonconference game. Antelope Valley will play host to defending champion San Bernardino Valley on Sept. 25 and the teams will meet in the conference finale at San Bernardino on Nov. 20. Only the second matchup counts in the conference standings.

"It happened so late that nobody (in the conference) could get a 10th ball game and it forced us into this schedule," said Carder, in his 24th season with the Marauders.

The coaches selected the new schedule because they did not want to search for nonconference opponents available at such a late date, Carder said. After considering numerous formulas for determining which schools would play each other twice, the coaches based the decision on last year's standings.

"We tried to look not just at the previous season's record, but the overall strength of the programs over the past few years," Carder said. "But what it boiled down to was that the coaches more or less seeded the teams according to the conference standings last season in a one-and-two, three-and-four, five-and-six and seven-and-eight order."

Even though Antelope Valley drew a conference power in San Bernardino Valley, Carder has no objections to the new format.

"In past years, we've played teams twice because we've caught them in the playoffs or a bowl game," he said. "We would play it like any other nonconference game and give it all we got."

Pierce Coach Bill Norton also had to find a replacement for East L.A. to fill out the team's nonconference schedule. The teams were set to play Sept. 11 at East L.A. but Pierce, which plays in the Western State Conference, now will travel to San Marcos to face Palomar of the strong Mission Conference that afternoon.

"I contacted everyone in the state looking for a game," Norton said. "Fortunately, we found someone, so things worked out. It really threw me for a loop. (Palomar) had been negotiating for a game with Arizona Western but that fell through, so we worked out a deal."

Many of the East L.A. players who would have battled Pierce that day transferred to other junior colleges. Few were happier to see them show up than John Cicuto, the Glendale coach who can make first contact with players from only the three high schools in his district--Crescenta Valley, Hoover and Glendale. Some of the transfer players were at East L.A. last season and some played at inner-city high schools that generally provided players to the Huskies.

"We picked up some Garfield kids this year, which we've never had, and some Lincoln and a lot of Franklin kids," Cicuto said. "It has helped us a lot."

The former Huskies now at Glendale include cornerback Frank Nava, an All-Foothill Conference selection last season, tight end Antwane Embry and running back Gilbert Marrero. Among the inner-city high school players are Anthony Lopez, an All-City defensive back at Garfield who will play free safety for the Vaqueros, defensive tackle Jose Blanco from Belmont and quarterback Gaspar Ortega from Lincoln, who redshirted at East L.A. last season.

"Gaspar has a real strong arm and we think that Nava is an excellent player," Cicuto said.

The former coaches at East L.A. probably felt that way too.

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