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COLLEGES / MITCH POLIN : Despite Layoff, El Camino QB Is Passing Tests

September 24, 1993|MITCH POLIN

Quarterback Steve Sarkisian has already made a good impression in his debut with the El Camino College football team.

Two weeks into the season, the freshman from West Torrance High ranks among the Mission Conference passing leaders with 35 completions in 56 attempts for 625 yards and three touchdowns.

But those statistics are even more impressive when you consider that Sarkisian didn't play football last season.

As a senior at West two years ago, he was second in the South Bay in passing with 2,099 yards and 22 TDs and was also a top baseball player.

Sarkisian decided to focus on baseball last season, walking on at USC with hopes of earning a scholarship. When that didn't work out, he enrolled at El Camino and was an infielder for the baseball team last season.

All along, Sarkisian said he wanted another chance at the gridiron.

"I always wanted to play football," he said. "I really wanted to play both sports, but things didn't work out at first. But after I saw some games at El Camino and some other places, I just wanted to play again."

As fate would have it, Sarkisian also happened to have El Camino Coach John Featherstone as his instructor in a health class he was taking last year.

"He was in my class and we talked a lot and he said he was getting an itch to play again," Featherstone recalled. "So I told him to come on out."

It hasn't taken Sarkisian long to recapture his passing touch since he joined the team for fall practice. A week before the start of the season in early September, he was named the team's starter over challengers Larry Roberts and Chris Keldorf.

"When we first saw him, we really liked the way he handled himself on the field," Featherstone said. "He isn't a yeller or a screamer, but he's a producer and he's got a real sharp mind for the game. You can never judge a guy until you put pads on him, but as soon as we did he really started to develop."

While his debut with the Warriors hasn't been perfect, Sarkisian has already convinced Featherstone about his ability.

"I think Steve has a chance to be as good of a quarterback as we've had here, and we've had some good ones," Featherstone said. "Out of the chute, he's done as well as anyone we've had here."

Considering that it is his first season with the Warriors, Sarkisian's best efforts may still be ahead.

"I think I'm just starting to realize what my potential can be in football," Sarkisian said. "I never really played Pop Warner (football) when I was a kid, and this is only my fifth year of football. So I'm just starting to learn what I can do."

As for his baseball career, Sarkisian said he isn't sure if he will play again for the Warriors even though he has one year of eligibility remaining.

"Right now I'm not really thinking about that," he said. "I'm really just thinking about football. I'll have to think about that after the season."

*

Harbor Coach Don Weems couldn't have asked for a better gift the week before the start of the football season.

That was when running back Shayzar Hawkins, who starred at Banning High two seasons ago, arrived at Harbor.

Hawkins had been attending Oregon State, where he was a reserve on the football team, but transferred to Harbor last week.

"I think the main reason he's back at Harbor is he's more comfortable with the educational program and the community here," Harbor Coach Don Weems said. "He could have stayed at Oregon State, but he didn't feel comfortable there."

Hawkins made an immediate impact in his first game with the Seahawks last week, rushing for 78 yards in 11 carries and accumulating 144 all-purpose yards to spark Harbor to a 10-0 win over Mt. San Jacinto. He was named Western State Conference co-offensive player of the week, along with wide receiver Alex Estrada of Moorpark.

Weems said that Hawkins provides an added dimension to his team's offense, which was considered a question mark before the start of the season.

"With his speed, he's one more guy for us that can run really fast and he's got excellent size (6-1 and 200)," Weems said. "Not that many people have that combination of size and speed like he does."

That should help give the Seahawks, who also feature another former Banning star in running back Damin Hurst, a potent rushing attack. Weems also hopes that will help strengthen the team's overall offense.

"It's just one more thing (opposing defenses) have to worry about," he said. "If they can run effectively, it should open up things for the rest of the offense."

*

The Southwest football team lost its football opener, 20-6, to Citrus last week, but that hasn't dampened the enthusiasm of Coach Henry Washington.

Washington was impressed with his team's defense, which held Citrus to 270 total yards.

"I really wasn't that upset, especially seeing how well the kids did on defense," he said. "We felt that with just a little more offense, we would've won the ballgame."

That may happen Saturday against Santa Barbara with the return of running backs Katia Ransom and Darrell Walton from ankle injuries.

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