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NORTHRIDGE FOOTBALL

Aina Gets Start at Guard, Shows He Isn't Finished

September 18, 1997|FERNANDO DOMINGUEZ

Injuries gave Tafi Aina a start at left guard for Cal State Northridge in a 28-18 loss at New Mexico State on Saturday night.

Aina, who played at Channel Island High and Ventura College, replaced Paul Sauter, who moved to center in the place of David Joralemon, who was out with a sprained ankle.

Aina, 6 feet 4 and 300 pounds, impressed the coaches enough to earn another starting assignment against Azusa Pacific on Saturday.

"Tafi graded out real high [at New Mexico State]," Coach Jim Fenwick said. "We'll probably stay with that combination and give Joralemon some rest."

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Aina is definitely the easiest Matador to identify without a helmet or a jersey number.

Just look for the wild hair.

"I started growing it like this in junior college," Aina said of the hair that sometimes stands straight up. "I comb it when I go to school but for practice I just let it go."

Aina's play is beginning to stand out like his hair. But he has had to work hard at making the transition from defense, where he played at Ventura, to offense.

"It's been a major adjustment," Aina said. "The hardest thing has been getting my foot work down."

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The Matadors will have a different broadcasting crew for the game Saturday night on KCSN-FM (88.5). Gary Cruz will call the action and Ron Foster, a former defensive back for the Matadors and Los Angeles Raiders, will handle the commentary. Bret Lewis did play by play in the first three games, but he had another commitment Saturday. Paul Bubb, Northridge's athletic director, worked with Lewis the past three weeks but won't do home games.

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