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Moorpark Thrown for Loss When Ailment Sidelines Lewis

November 14, 1996|FERNANDO DOMINGUEZ

First, the right side of the face puffed up, like it had been slugged by Evander Holyfield.

Then the ankles and legs started to swell, mostly when Taj Lewis tried to walk or run.

That can seriously cramp your style when you are a fleet-footed quarterback.

It went like this for the past several weeks, with Lewis undergoing medical tests to find answers that weren't coming, and somehow still playing for Moorpark College.

He sat out Saturday night's loss to Valley in what basically amounted to the Western State Conference Southern Division title game, but helped the Raiders defeat Harbor the week before.

That might have been his last junior college game.

Although doctors couldn't pinpoint the source of Lewis' problem, they know what's wrong and how to treat it.

An infection that traveled to his kidneys, Lewis was told, threw his body for a loop and made it retain fluids. They prescribed antibiotics and no more football this year.

"His kidneys are inflamed and they don't want to subject them to any kind of trauma," said Ernest Lewis, Taj's father. "The doctors said it would be ill-advised [to play] for the time being. . . . They said he should be back to normal in about two months."

If Lewis indeed isn't cleared to play even by Dec. 7, when the Raiders could be in a bowl game, he would leave Moorpark knowing he served his team well.

This season, in particular, Lewis had become a complete quarterback.

The sophomore from Oxnard High, a 5-foot-11, 170-pound speedster with an underrated arm, has passed for 944 yards and 11 touchdowns, and rushed for 335 yards and four touchdowns this season. In two seasons, Lewis has 2,034 yards passing and 18 touchdowns.

The Raiders were 15-4 with Lewis directing the offense the past two seasons, including a 30-19 upset of El Camino in the Western State Bowl in December.

Had he played last week, the Raiders probably would have given Valley a stiffer challenge instead of losing, 44-23.

"He wanted to play," said Jim Bittner, Moorpark coach. "I had to talk him into thinking about playing in a bowl game."

Lewis has his sights on that possibility.

"If it gets better, I'll play, but if it's not, I'll sit it out and I'll be there to support my team," Lewis said.

Lewis is not the only Moorpark quarterback on the mend.

Bittner said sophomore Steve Saum, who started against Valley, suffered his second concussion in two weeks and is probably finished for the year.

Saum, from Nordhoff High, came out during Moorpark's second possession at Valley and didn't return. He fumbled the snap on the game's second play, leading to Valley's first touchdown.

George Jones, a converted wide receiver, replaced him.

"We didn't take him out because he fumbled," Bittner said. "[Saum] said he was blind and couldn't see. He must have been hit on the head."

Jones will start against Santa Monica on Saturday, backed up by running back Bryan Wilkins.

Talk about adding frustration to an already disheartening situation.

That extra point Pierce muffed with 39 seconds left against Glendale on Saturday, the one that would have ended a losing streak at 14 games, meant the Brahmas snatched a loss from the jaws of victory again. On Oct. 12 against Santa Monica, the Brahmas needed an extra point to beat the Corsairs, 28-27. But Mike Brandt-Spitzer's kick was blocked, recovered by Santa Monica and returned 75 yards for two points.

Santa Monica 29, Pierce 27.

It was deja vu of sorts against Glendale.

The Brahmas rallied to tie the score, 30-30, but the snap on the extra point sailed over Brandt-Spitzer's head, sending the game into overtime.

Glendale won, 36-30, on Rahsaan Harrison's six-yard run.


Mariah Harmon of the Antelope Valley women's volleyball team leads the Foothill Conference in aces average at 0.76. . . . After an 0-5 start, Pierce is 6-6, 6-1 and leading the WSC South Division. . . . Before Wednesday night's WSC wrestling match against Cuesta (2-0), Ati Conner (158 pounds) was 25-1 for Moorpark (3-0) and Fred Molano (142) was 23-1.

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