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COLLEGE FOOTBALL '98 / THE COMMUNITY COLLEGES

Opponents

September 10, 1998

RIVERSIDE

Mike Churchill took over as head coach last season and began switching the Tigers from a run-oriented team into one with more balance. Riverside finished 4-6 overall and 3-3 in the division and tied for third place. "I feel pretty optimistic about what we're doing," Churchill said. Riverside has seven starters back on defense, the most of any team in the division. Mark Helton (6-2, 250) is back at inside linebacker after making all-conference last year. Linebacker Joe Kahle (6-1, 240) was third in tackles with 67 and had three interceptions. There isn't nearly as much experience on the offense where only one starter is back.

PALOMAR

Palomar went 6-5 last season and reached a bowl game that it hosted but the Comets had to win their last four in a row to do so. Expectation were high as Coach Tom Craft returned after spending two years at San Diego State as an assistant, but Palomar struggled early. "We had high expectations," he said, "but played as bad as any team I can remember for the first five weeks."

Tony Alvarez is back at quarterback after throwing for 2,118 yards with 16 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Brandon Marshall is also back at wide receiver where he was an all-conference selection last season. Terrance Gray, an all-conference defensive back, is also back.

THE NORTHERN DIVISION

Orange Coast moves in with some fast company when the Pirates join the division this fall. Mt. San Antonio went 12-0 last season and won the state and national championships but the Mounties are picked second in the division this season behind Long Beach, which is coming off a 9-2 season that included a victory in the Simple Green Orange County Bowl. The Vikings are the favorite largely because of sophomore quarterback Sean Stein, who was a standout at Los Alamitos High. Stein passed for 3,055 yards and 21 touchdowns for Long Beach, which also has three big-play specialists back on defense. Linebacker Markus Steele was in on 96 tackles, including eight sacks. Safety John Williams had 46 tackles and cornerback Nijreell Eason tied the college's single-season record for interceptions with seven. El Camino (8-3 last season) figures to be as strong as ever. LaDarias Jackson is back at defensive end after getting nine sacks as a freshman. Cerritos (5-5 last season) returns all-conference Kristian Hernandez, a 6-foot-3, 315-pound tackle. Pasadena was 2-8 last season after having to forfeit two games because of an ineligible player.

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