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Morse Code Gets Offense Moving

August 20, 2000|VINCE KOWALICK

Marcus Brady made a habit last season of zipping spirals to Drew Amerson, his former teammate at San Diego Morse High.

So, it was no surprise when Brady and Amerson reestablished the San Diego connection during an intrasquad scrimmage Saturday at North Campus Stadium.

Brady, a junior entering his third season as Cal State Northridge's starting quarterback, threw seven completions to Amerson, including one for a touchdown, to highlight an encouraging performance by the offense.

Amerson, a sophomore, last season led the Big Sky Conference with 71 receptions. This year, the sky's the limit as far as how many passes he will receive from Brady.

"Maybe 100," Brady said. "He knows what I'm doing, and we just look at each other and know. I'll throw long, short, whatever the defense gives us."

Although Amerson played defensive back in high school, he was among Brady's prime targets on the junior varsity. They have have been a pass combination since they were 11.

Amerson had a career-high 15 catches in a 30-28 victory over Weber State at Northridge. More important, Amerson drew double coverage with 13 seconds to play, allowing Brady to connect with Gil Rodriguez for a 13-yard touchdown pass for the winning score.

"I'm hoping to do more [this year]," Amerson said. "Last year was more like a learning experience. This year, I'll know what to look for. Like he said, we're on the same page."


The receiving corps is minus Aaron Arnold, the school's career receptions leader, and Joe Gilliam, who caught 25 passes last season and appeared poised to fill Arnold's role.

Arnold has graduated and Gilliam is attending Pierce College for academic reasons.

Reinforcements include Jason Stone, a former receiver at Dos Pueblos High and San Diego State who played last season at Santa Barbara City College.

Stone, 6 feet 5 and 210 pounds, is talented but needs time to become accustomed to the Matador attack.

"Right now, it's about learning the offense," Stone said. "I can get out there and run with them, that's not a problem. But I still have kind of the San Diego offense in my head and Santa Barbara."

Armando Gonzalez, who coaches receivers for Northridge, filled the same position when Stone played for Dos Pueblos.

"I don't think he'll have a problem," Gonzalez said. "A lot of stuff is just adjusting to defenses. You can't just run a route. Defenses do different things."

Freshmen D.J. Hackett from San Dimas High and Marvin Henderson from McClymonds High in Oakland played considerably Saturday. Hackett caught a touchdown pass from Brady.


Romeo, Romeo. . . .

Romeo Brooks, a 6-4, 240-pound defensive end and transfer from Chaffey College, might be the Matadors' best pass-rusher, particularly since Ramsey Venner, a highly touted transfer from Fresno State, has been declared ineligible.

Brooks might make a few highlight reels, but he is more interested in making his own movies.

An aspiring actor and film student, Brooks said he opted for Northridge because of the school's curriculum in radio, television and film. Brooks played two seasons at Chaffey after taking a year off from school to pursue his dream.

"I was living in Los Angeles in an apartment by myself, working as a movie extra, not making any money at all and really struggling," Brooks said. "Then I went to Chaffey."

The defensive front is further diminished by injuries. Eric Gardner and Andy Zaldivar are limping with ankle sprains. Linebacker Cos Abercrombie (neck) and safety Travis Campbell (groin) sat out the scrimmage for precautionary reasons.

"When everyone gets healthy, we'll have a good team up front," Brooks said.


The Matadors resume two-a-day practices Monday with several starting positions up for grabs. Coach Jeff Kearin, pleased by the team's performance Saturday, said decisions will be made soon.

"We'll look at the film," Kearin said. "But if we had to play a game tonight, we could put together a starting group and feel pretty good about it. The biggest issue right now is, as always, depth. When a guy in one position gets hurt, where are we going to pull the next guy from? But that's typical for here."

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