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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK

It's Curtains for Some Matadors

November 19, 2000|VINCE KOWALICK

PORTLAND, Ore. — The careers of several Northridge football players came to an end Saturday with the Matadors' 49-22 Big Sky Conference loss at Portland State.

Northridge, a disappointing 4-7, will leave the Big Sky after five years to compete as an independent, and the school will say good-bye to seniors Ethan Beck, Karalus Doyle, Erik Gardner, Levi Line and Joseph Roberson, to name a few.

And don't forget Gil Rodriguez, who might be back on the sideline.

Rodriguez, a receiver for four seasons at Northridge, intends to join the Northridge coaching staff as a graduate assistant. Having earned a degree in sociology, Rodriguez is working toward earning a masters while contemplating a career in coaching.

"If they want to keep me, that's something I want to do," said Rodriguez, who had two catches against Portland State for 39 and 38 yards. "I'll do what the regular GA guys do--break down film, run out for soda for the coaches, whatever they want me to do."

Rodriguez, who directs players in stretching drills, has been a leader the last two seasons on offense and special teams.

At 5 feet 8 inches and 175 pounds, Rodriguez once was considered too small by Northridge Coach Jeff Kearin. But Rodriguez has made his presence felt.

"I took part in a conversation when I said the guy would never play here," Kearin said. "Now, I'm going to do whatever I can to keep him around."

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Gardner, a defensive end and arguably the Matadors' best defensive lineman, said he will explore opportunities to play professionally. Among the Matadors' sack leaders, Gardner (6-6, 240) played the latter half of the season with his right hand in a cast.

"I'm looking forward to getting started," Gardner said. "It depends on whether a team wants me or whether I can get into a combine. Starting next week, I'm going to go out and find an agent."

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The schedule will be different next season, but the Matadors' offense will again revolve around quarterback Marcus Brady and receiver Drew Amerson.

Brady, who will be a senior, and Amerson, were teammates at San Diego Morse High and have developed a rapport on the field.

Brady passed for 2,815 yards and 25 touchdowns this season. For the second consecutive year, Amerson had 71 receptions to lead the Big Sky. He caught at least one scoring pass in the last six games.

Brady and the prolific Northridge attack will be missed in the Big Sky, Coach Tim Walsh of Portland State said.

"Marcus Brady is a great quarterback and they have skill people who are as good as anyone in the United States in Division I-AA," Walsh said.

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