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Transplanted Flowers

Former Northridge Quarterback Feels at Home in Montana

October 21, 2000|VINCE KOWALICK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

BOZEMAN, Mont. — Who would have figured Aaron Flowers to be blossoming in, of all places, Montana?

Bozeman, population 30,000 in the Gallatin Valley, is home to Flowers, a former All-American quarterback and assistant coach for Cal State Northridge. Despite a career move that took him from one end of the Big Sky Conference to the other--geographically, at least--Flowers remains at home in his role of coaching quarterbacks.

Flowers' many school passing records only recently have been eclipsed by Marcus Brady, his former protege and the starter today when Northridge (1-5, 0-4 in conference play) plays a Big Sky game at Montana State (0-6, 0-3) in a battle between the Big Sky's bottom teams.

After one season as the Northridge quarterbacks coach, Flowers, 25, abruptly left last spring to accept an offer to join first-year Coach Mike Kramer's staff at Montana State. Flowers, the son of a football coach, has his sights on a coaching career and was on the alert for a more-lucrative assistant job. But he never envisioned heading to Bozeman.

"It's a lot different," Flowers said. "It's a culture shock, definitely. It's a small town and you're the only game in town. Everyone knows who you are."

Flowers is starting anew, with a new home, new job and soon to be new bride.

He also has a new quarterback.

Farhaad Azimi found his way to Montana State after starting at Rio Mesa High and Moorpark College. In between, Azimi spent a redshirt season at Brigham Young.

At Montana State, Azimi immediately was tabbed the starter.

"I knew he was my starter after having one conversation with him," Kramer said. "That's how much confidence I had in him from the start."

Azimi, like the Bobcats, has struggled. He missed one game because of a bruised kidney and his name does not appear among the top eight conference passing leaders.

Like Flowers, Azimi said the surroundings are unlike any place he has lived.

"But the atmosphere here is great and this is a great conference," Azimi said. "I'd like us to be better. And I'd like to be a more athletic quarterback than I am."

Flowers predicts Azimi, a junior, will improve rapidly. And so will the Bobcats.

"He's getting better every week and that's the most encouraging news," Flowers said. "We're all coming in here new this season and we're just starting to see things happen. I don't know if people expected us to be successful right away. But I know they didn't expect us to be 0-6."

The Bobcats and Northridge are having disappointing seasons. The Matadors have won only once in four games in the series, a 24-21 victory last season at Bozeman when Carson Souter missed a 48-yard field goal attempt in the final seconds.

Inspired by his new post, Flowers, scheduled to be wed next summer in Orange County, intends to make Montana his home.

"It's been great here," Flowers said. "I've gotten to do what I've wanted to do and what is best for my family. That's why I came up here, to start a family."

MATCHUP

CS NORTHRIDGE

vs. MONTANA ST.

Today, 12:35 p.m.

At Bozeman, Mont.

GAME DAY

* Northridge and Montana State will try to end losing streaks today. Page 11

* Cal Lutheran's high-flying offense will be tested by La Verne. Page 11

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