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COMMUNITY COLLEGE NOTEBOOK / STEVE KRESAL

Again, Swearingen Gets Sinking Feeling

October 18, 1994|STEVE KRESAL

Ken Swearingen has been through a difficult season before, but that doesn't make his team's struggles this year any easier to take.

Saddleback went 1-9 in 1989, the only losing season Swearingen, the winningest community college football coach in the nation, has had.

But his program quickly bounced back. Saddleback was 10-1 in 1991, then the Gauchos went 11-0 in 1992 and were selected the top team in the nation by the J.C. Grid-Wire. Saddleback has shared a J.C. Grid-Wire national title in 1985.

Saddleback has fallen on hard times again this season. The Gauchos are 0-4-1 and Saturday face El Camino (5-0), the top-ranked team in Southern California.

"It's been a real struggle," Swearingen said Saturday after a 35-19 loss to Fullerton. "We're not that bad, but we keep making little mistakes."

Saddleback started the season with a 21-20 loss to Long Beach in which the Gauchos went for two with less than two minutes left and failed.

They also lost to Cerritos, 33-19, Palomar, 27-6, and tied Southwestern, 28-28, the next three games.

Swearingen, looking for some change on offense, Saturday replaced sophomore quarterback Aron Garcia with freshman Pat Wood. Garcia had had 11 passes intercepted in the first four games.

Wood was 13 of 29 for 195 yards and also rushed a team-high 47 yards against Fullerton and is expected to start again Saturday.

"He got better as the game went along," Swearingen said. "He did some things we can build as the season goes along."

*

Fooled ya: On plays near the goal line, referees are often timid about signaling touchdowns.

But just the opposite occurred in Fullerton's 35-19 victory over Saddleback on Saturday.

Saddleback was at the Fullerton one-yard line late in the game when quarterback Wood faked a handoff to running back Joshua Payseno, then started around the left end on a well-executed bootleg.

Payseno fell into the end zone and the officials signaled touchdown and blew the play dead. The mistake was realized when Payseno was asked for the ball. Meanwhile, Wood (along with the ball) was in the far left corner of the end zone.

The officials met, ruled an inadvertent whistle and forced Saddleback to take the down over. This time, the Gauchos' Payseno took the ball on the dive up middle and scored with 1 minute 22 seconds left.

*

Football rankings: El Camino (5-0) beat second-ranked Cerritos, 38-35, to remain the top-ranked team in the weekly Southland Poll. Rancho Santiago, a 35-14 winner over Golden West is second. The Dons (4-1) have won four in a row.

Los Angeles Valley (6-0) is third, Cerritos (4-1) fourth, Long Beach (5-1) fifth, Bakersfield (5-1) sixth, Ventura (4-1) seventh, Palomar (3-2) eighth, Moorpark (3-2) ninth and Grossmont (4-1) is 10th.

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Water polo: Golden West (18-1) again has established itself as the top-ranked team in the state. The Rustlers, which have won the last five State water polo titles, swept three games in the Cuesta pool-play tournament Saturday. Golden West beat seventh-ranked Diablo Valley, 11-9, unranked West Valley, 15-6, and No. 6 Cuesta, 14-6.

Golden West and second-ranked Long Beach play Oct. 28 at Long Beach Belmont Plaza in the final South Coast Conference game. Long Beach beat Golden West, 10-7, this season.

Notes

Matt Padgett, a 167-pound wrestler from Rancho Santiago and Willie Green, a heavyweight from Cypress, will be on the South team for the North-South all star wrestling match Saturday at Fresno. Padgett is the defending State champion. Green, from Savanna High, is 18-3, including nine pins. . . Cross-country teams are taking the week off before the Moorpark Invitational, the biggest meet of the season thus far. The Moorpark race is at 9 a.m. Oct. 29. The race is used to determine the 14 teams from Southern California that take part in the State meet Nov. 19 at Woodward Park in Fresno.

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