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NOTEBOOK / ROB FERNAS : El Camino Is Pulling Out All the Stops in Effort to Improve Defense

August 25, 1994|ROB FERNAS

After watching his team give up an average of 32 points a game last season, El Camino College football Coach John Featherstone knew something had to be done about the defense.

"We felt it was time to make a change," Featherstone said.

So the Warriors junked their old system in favor of the defensive scheme run by the University of Arizona. Featherstone and three of his assistants spent two days in Tucson last spring learning the double-eagle flex defense from Wildcat Coach Dick Tomey and his staff.

Arizona boasted one of the nation's best defenses in 1993, and Featherstone believes the system can work for El Camino, which is coming off a 2-8 season.

"We have a long ways to go to perfect it, but I think we have the guys to run it," Featherstone said. "It's a more conservative defense than we ran last year. You can blitz out of it, but still be safe in (pass) coverage."

Featherstone said opponents began exploiting El Camino in its old system, the aggressive split-six, in which the Warriors blitzed on almost every down.

"We got beat on man coverage too much," he said.

Featherstone hopes the combination of a new system, six returning starters and the addition of several promising newcomers will make for a much-improved Warrior defense. El Camino opens the season Sept. 10 at home against Rancho Santiago.

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One defensive player who figures to get significant playing time for El Camino is former Hawthorne High standout Ronnie Morrissette, a transfer from Fresno State.

Morrissette, an outside linebacker, started a few games as a freshman last season for Fresno State but reportedly didn't get along with Coach Jim Sweeney.

In any event, Featherstone is glad to have the versatile Morrissette, who played several positions (tight end, quarterback, linebacker and safety) in helping Hawthorne win the Southern Section Division III title in 1992.

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Gary Cain, former coach at Banning High and an assistant the past four seasons at Cal State Dominguez Hills, was named men's basketball coach at Harbor College on Wednesday. Cain, 43, replaces Carl Strong, who resigned earlier this month after coaching Harbor for three seasons.

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South Bay girls participated on four doubles teams that won titles last week at the National Amateur Athletic Union Junior Olympic beach volleyball tournament at Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro.

Joi Thomas of Bishop Montgomery High and Malaika Naulls, the daughter of former San Pedro High, UCLA and NBA basketball player Willie Naulls, won the 12th-grade-and-under title. Naulls attends Harvard-Westlake in Studio City.

Other local winners were sisters Shawni and Rani Lopez of San Pedro in the 10th-grade-and-under division, Chrissie Zartman of Hermosa Beach and Tracy Lindquist of Fountain Valley in eighth-grade-and-under, and Jenny Peterson of Manhattan Beach and Kim Loeffler of Hermosa Beach in sixth-grade-and-under.

Notes

Brothers James and Pa'a Pepe, former defensive standouts at Carson High, will play football this season for College of the Redwoods in Eureka, Calif. James Pepe, a linebacker, was The Times' South Bay lineman of the year in 1992. He signed with Oregon out of high school but sat out last season after he failed to qualify academically. Pa'a Pepe, a defensive back, helped Carson win the City Section 4-A Division title last season.

The Loyola Marymount women's volleyball team, ranked 23rd in the nation, will play an alumni team at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Gersten Pavilion.

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