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Moorpark Hopes to Bowl Over Hancock

November 16, 2000|FERNANDO DOMINGUEZ | TIMES STAFF WRITER

With one regular-season football game to play, the scramble continues for a spot in one of six Southern California bowls on Dec. 2.

College of the Canyons (8-1) is in, although the Cougars are not sure where they'll end up.

Moorpark (6-3) must defeat Hancock (7-2) on Saturday night to qualify.

"Our No. 1 goal all along was to win the championship and to go to a bowl game, and it all sort of gets wrapped into this game," Coach Jim Bittner of Moorpark said.

The guidelines call for the top 12 ranked teams in the region to play in a bowl game. Canyons is ranked No. 4, Moorpark is No. 12.

That means Moorpark is not only playing for the WSC Northern Division title against Hancock, but also to survive the final cut for bowl participation. The Raiders and Hancock each are 5-1 in division play.

The Raiders blew an opportunity to clinch a tie for the title and to secure a higher ranking by losing to Valley, 24-10, two weeks ago.

"We managed to pin ourselves in a corner," Bittner said.

Moorpark has participated or qualified for a bowl game every year since 1988. The Raiders didn't play in 1997 because their game against host Santa Barbara in the WSC Bowl was canceled because rain flooded the field.

If Moorpark loses to Hancock, the Raiders likely will drop out of the rankings and possibly open the door for WSC Southern Division members East L.A., Santa Monica or Southwest to crack the top 12.

Then the potential scenarios get interesting.

The teams with the best power ratings after this weekend will meet in a bowl game for the Southern California championship, with the winner advancing to the state title game against a Northern California team at Visalia on Dec. 9.

Bakersfield (8-1) leads the region with a power rating of 30.0, followed by Mt. San Antonio (8-1) at 25.6, Grossmont (8-1) at 23.2 and Canyons at 22.4. Bakersfield hosts the Potato Bowl, which likely will double as the region's championship game.

Canyons was in a great position to battle for the regional title until losing to Moorpark, 31-26, on Oct. 28. Without that defeat, the Cougars would have 25.6 points in the power ratings and stand a good chance of claiming the No. 2 spot with a victory over Valley (2-7) on Saturday.

Moreover, a victory over Moorpark and Valley, coupled with the expected outcome of this week's games involving Canyons' opponents, would have given the Cougars about 28.0 points and a virtual lock on the power ratings' No. 2 spot.

The Cougars now could have the option of hosting the WSC Bowl, but Coach Chuck Lyon has other ideas.

"We would have to play a 7-3 team [in the WSC Bowl]," Lyon said. "We would like to play a 9-1 team."

For Moorpark, the door would be closed with a slip at Hancock, so the Raiders are not fooling around.

"You can tell the focus in practice is much better," Bittner said.

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