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Elite Backs Waiting for Northridge

October 10, 2000|VINCE KOWALICK

Charles "Chip" Dunn of Portland State is winning the battle of the backs this season in the Big Sky Conference.

Dunn, a 1996 graduate of Pasadena Muir High, rushed for a school-record 324 yards and three touchdowns Saturday in a 40-35 nonconference victory over No. 10-ranked Hofstra. Dunn, who has rushed for 736 yards in his last three games, raised his total to 1,049 yards, most in the Big Sky. Dunn averages 210 yards to lead Division I-AA.

This was supposed to be the year Charles Roberts of Cal State Sacramento took center stage. Roberts, who rushed for an NCAA-record 409 yards in a game last season, entered the season as the Big Sky's career leader with 4,929 yards.

Cal State Northridge, ranked last in the Big Sky in rushing defense, has yet to face Dunn or Roberts this season. Northridge plays at Sacramento on Nov. 4 and at No. 4-ranked Portland State on Nov. 18.

The Matadors (1-4, 0-3 in conference play) all but dropped out of the Big Sky race after losing, 31-14, at Weber State on Thursday. Northridge plays at home Saturday against defending champion Montana (4-1, 2-0), ranked No. 9 in I-AA.

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The Big Sky will hold its first basketball media day on Wednesday in Salt Lake City. Preseason polls for men's and women's teams will be released.

Look for a lofty ranking of the Northridge men's team, projected to compete for the conference title in its final season in the Big Sky.

The Matadors had a school-record 20 victories last season and narrowly missed a berth in their first NCAA tournament. Northridge has several key returners, including point guard Markus Carr, forwards Brian Heinle and Jeff Parris, and guard Carl Holmes.

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Cal State Northridge has the nation's 15th best recruiting class for the 2001 season, according to Collegiate Baseball.

The Matadors have added several transfers to a young and improving team, including catcher Eric Ballew, who had 19 home runs last season for College of the Canyons. Ballew attended Hart High.

Other transfers include left-hander Craig Mosher from Florida, outfielder Eric Verbryke from USC and designated hitter Robert Smight from Oklahoma State.

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