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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Cassel Jump-Starts Chatsworth Rout

Football: Athletic play by junior quarterback spurs Chancellors to 50-22 victory over Monroe.

September 19, 1998|ERIC SONDHEIMER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

CHATSWORTH — Matt Cassel, a 6-foot-4 junior quarterback already known for his immense athletic skills, pulled off a feat Friday night that left Chatsworth High fans shaking their heads in astonishment.

"I can't believe that," linebacker Eric Harris said.

On a two-point conversion attempt in the second quarter, Cassel ran toward the end zone and saw Monroe's 5-11 DeAndre Phillips standing in the way. All Cassel did was jump over Phillips as if he were a mere hurdle.

"Spur of the moment kind of thing to get the crowd going, baby," Cassel said.

Cassel did more than his share to help the Chancellors (2-0) blow out the Vikings, 50-22, in a nonconference game.

Twice on draw plays, Cassel sprinted through the Monroe defense for gains of 52 and 50 yards. He finished with a career-high 133 yards rushing in five carries. He also completed 10 of 22 passes for 162 yards and three touchdowns.

Chatsworth surged to a 38-8 halftime lead and went ahead 50-8 in the third quarter.

As impressive as Cassel was, so were the Harris brothers, Eric and Mark. Eric ignited Chatsworth in the first quarter by blocking a punt in the end zone that was recovered for a touchdown by Marvin Street. He also caught a touchdown and ran for one. Mark scored a touchdown on a 15-yard pass from Cassel.

Street had two sacks at defensive end and forced an interception. Linebacker Robert Minsky and defensive end Terrence Redmond also played major roles in disrupting Monroe's double-wing rushing attack.

Cassel, though, is the player capable of leading Chatsworth to prominence in the Northwest Valley Conference. There are few athletes like him in the region. He batted .414 as a sophomore baseball player and is just beginning to learn how far he might go in football.

"Do you want the truth?" Chatsworth offensive coordinator Ron Martinez said. "The truth is he's as good as there is around."

Eric Harris could only marvel at Cassel's leap over Phillips.

"I was amazed," Harris said. "That was pretty cool jumping right over his head."

First-year Chatsworth Coach Bill Coan seemed more concerned about keeping Cassel healthy.

"I wish he'd learn how to slide," Coan said. "We don't have any drills for hurdling."

There is one thing Cassel apparently doesn't do well--sing. He tried to sing the National Anthem on the sideline before the game, with injured wide receiver Reggie Lee cringing.

"You give him 10 for effort but poor vocals," Lee said. "He can do everything else."

In the fourth quarter, Cassel was so comfortable he sat on the bench reading a game program.

"A year from now, he'll be one of the most heavily recruited players around," Martinez said.

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