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BETWEEN THE LINES | KEEPING TABS

November 14, 1996

Chip off old block: Damon Blechen is a starting defensive end at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. The Big Green is undefeated, ranked No. 19 in NCAA Division I-AA and on the verge of clinching its 17th Ivy League title.

But in terms of football notoriety, the 6-foot-3, 250-pound junior runs second in his family to his father, 61-year old Bob Blechen, a semipro player who has received national acclaim.

The elder Blechen, who has been playing football nearly nonstop for five decades, has been featured in The Times, Sports Illustrated and the National Examiner as well as on the Turner Broadcasting program "Football in America."

"Nowadays there's always people around him talking about how amazing he is and I just sit back and smile," Damon Blechen said. "Maybe his nerves have frayed and he can't feel the pain but I can't see myself playing at that age."

The son is doing quite well at 20, starting for Dartmouth's best team since its 1970 squad finished 9-0 and claimed the Lambert Trophy, symbolic of college football dominance on the East Coast.

The Big Green (8-0, 5-0 in league) can clinch its ninth outright league title with a victory Saturday at Brown. However, Ivy League football programs are not permitted by the conference to participate in the national playoffs.

Blechen, a 1994 graduate of Agoura High and the Marmonte League's lineman of the year as a senior, speaks enthusiastically of his time at Dartmouth, a school of 4,300 that began playing football in 1881.

"There's so much history and so many rivalries that go back so long that even though I don't get to play in front of . . . 100,000 fans it's still a great atmosphere," Blechen said.

Halls of ivy: Another local product in the Ivies is Yale tailback Jabbar Craigwell, a Notre Dame High graduate, who has battled knee and hamstring injuries this season.

Last Saturday, Craigwell set career highs by carrying 33 times for 134 yards in a 28-20 loss to Cornell. He leads the Bulldogs (2-6, 1-4) with 293 yards and a touchdown in 87 carries.

Banner year: Heather Rolland, a junior from Newbury Park High and Moorpark College, had 20 goals and seven assists this soccer season for Cal State Dominguez Hills (13-5, 8-2), leading the California Collegiate Athletic Assn. in scoring.

Rolland made the All-CCAA and All-West Region teams.

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