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Is Fenwick Coaching His Last Game at Valley?

Football: Monarchs, who play Hancock in Western State Bowl, could lose leader to Northridge.

December 07, 1996|FERNANDO DOMINGUEZ | TIMES STAFF WRITER

VAN NUYS — Once again, Valley College's football team is in a bowl game.

The Monarchs (9-1) play host to Hancock (9-1) at 7 tonight in the Western State Bowl, the fourth consecutive bowl appearance for Valley.

But this one might have additional drama.

It could be Coach Jim Fenwick's last game with the Monarchs.

Fenwick, who in six seasons has built Valley into a national junior college powerhouse, could replace Dave Baldwin as Cal State Northridge's coach next year.

Baldwin was hired Friday as coach at San Jose State after retooling the Matadors the past two seasons, finishing with a 7-4 record this fall.

His departure opens the door for Fenwick to pursue the job he previously sought and ultimately lost to Baldwin.

"After this bowl game, I'd be crazy not to look into it," Fenwick said.

Fenwick's impressive credentials could give him the edge when Paul Bubb, the Northridge athletic director, starts searching for a new coach.

The Monarchs are 38-5 the past four seasons after some growing pains in Fenwick's first two years in charge in 1991 and 1992, and have won two consecutive Western State Conference Southern Division titles and three bowl games.

Last year, Valley was 10-0 and top-ranked in one national poll before losing to unbeaten Long Beach City for the mythical national championship in the Strawberry Bowl in Cerritos.

This season, the Monarchs are ranked third in the state and fifth nationally.

Fenwick coached at Pierce from 1981-85 and guided the Brahmas to three consecutive Southern California Conference titles, finishing 10-1 in 1984 after losing to Taft in the Potato Bowl.

He became an assistant at Northridge in 1986 after Pierce discontinued its football program for two years.

"I've always felt [Northridge] would be a good fit for myself," Fenwick said.

The Matadors already have proved a good fit for several former Valley players, including quarterback Aaron Flowers, who this season passed for 3,540 yards and 30 touchdowns, both Northridge single-season records.

"Coach Fenwick is a great coach," Flowers said. "I'd be happy to play for him again, but that's all up to the administration."

Tonight, Fenwick wants to focus on Hancock, which has the top-rated defense in the state.

"Their [defensive] line is pretty strong and they are quick," Fenwick said.

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