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October 13, 1994|ROB FERNAS


What has 22 legs, can move on the ground or through the air with equal skill and travels close to one-third of a mile on an average night?

It's the El Camino College offense, the unstoppable beast of community college football.

The Warriors (4-0) rank No. 1 in the state in total offense, averaging 561 yards and 44 points a game. El Camino gained 562 yards Saturday in a 49-20 victory over defending national champion Palomar and is averaging 8.5 yards a play, nearly a first down on every snap.

Although no national statistics are kept, Hank Ives, editor and publisher of J.C. Grid-Wire, said El Camino "without a doubt" has the most productive community college offense in the country.

"It's the best offensive team we've had since I've been here," said Coach John Featherstone, in his 10th season at El Camino. "We have more depth at wide receiver and more depth at running back than ever before."

The Warriors' depth at running back has paid off in the past two weeks. Starting tailback Morell Ollis suffered a broken collarbone Sept. 24 against Fullerton, but freshman Zak Swoopshire has filled in admirably, rushing for more than 100 yards in victories over Golden West and Palomar. Swoopshire is averaging 8.9 yards a carry.

The combination of Swoopshire, the team's fastest back, and fullback Robert Jenkins, the team's leading rusher with 477 yards, has taken the pressure off quarterback Steve Sarkisian and given El Camino a more balanced attack. When Ollis returns to the lineup in a few weeks, Featherstone said he will rotate the three running backs.

Featherstone can afford the same luxury at wide receiver with the talented trio of Leandrew Childs, Russell Shaw and David Saraf. Childs leads the team with 25 catches for 407 yards and seven touchdowns.

The Warriors' depth even carries over to the offensive line, where tackles Tevete Usu (6-foot-5, 310 pounds) and J.R. Herring (6-4, 285), guards Demetrius Hamilton (6-3, 265) and Ryan Winkler (6-2, 270) and center Jimmy Omatsu (6-1, 250) are supported by three capable freshmen: Al Guerrero, Rene Sandoval and Curtis Armour.

The line has given up only three sacks, allowing Sarkisian enough time to complete 76% of his passes (85 of 112) for 1,322 yards and 14 TDs.


El Camino, ranked fourth in the nation, will face its toughest challenge to date when it meets eighth-ranked Cerritos (4-0) in a Mission Conference game at 7 p.m. Saturday at Cerritos.

Cerritos leads the conference in rushing, averaging 245 yards a game, and El Camino ranks fifth in rushing defense, allowing 134 yards a game.

"It's our biggest test, no question," Featherstone said. "Cerritos is a real solid football team."

Although El Camino is ranked ahead of Cerritos in the national J.C. Grid-Wire, the Warriors (third) trail Cerritos (second) in the JC Athletic Bureau state top 20. San Francisco City (4-0), O.J. Simpson's old school, is ranked No. 1 in the state and sixth in the nation.

Ricks (Ida.) (6-0) is ranked No. 1 in the nation.


The early signing period apparently will come and go without Inglewood High basketball standout Paul Pierce committing to a college.

Pierce told Jeff Fellenzer of The Times that he will almost certainly wait until the spring before signing a letter of intent. He has narrowed his list of prospective schools to Kansas, UCLA, USC, California, Arizona and Oregon.

Basketball players who want to put the recruiting process behind them can sign during the early period of Nov. 9-16. But since Pierce has not yet scored at least 700 on the Scholastic Aptitude Test, he has not been able to take any campus visits. He took the SAT for the second time Saturday after scoring 650 on his first attempt.

The 6-6 Pierce, considered the top senior prospect in California, denied the validity of a recent radio report that said he had already made an unwritten commitment to UCLA.


Peninsula High football Coach Gary Kimbrell was braced for a struggle. But imagine his surprise after the Panthers took a 29-0 halftime lead against Leuzinger en route to a convincing 35-7 Bay League victory on Friday.

"Never in my wildest dreams did I expect something like that," Kimbrell said. "I thought it was going to be a tough football game."

It was tough all right--on Leuzinger. The previously unbeaten Olympians had two serious problems against Peninsula: their offense couldn't move the ball and their defense couldn't stop the Panthers.

The emergence of quarterback Peter Krogh is perhaps the biggest reason for Peninsula's improvement in recent weeks. After playing poorly in a 9-6 loss to Mira Costa, Krogh has led the Panthers to blowout victories over San Dieguito, West Torrance and Leuzinger by running the option effectively and completing timely passes. He ranks second on the team in rushing behind running back Petros Papadakis.

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