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WSC Race Looks Like a Rerun

Junior college football: Co-champions Ventura and Hancock expected to battle for title again.


Let's consult the crystal ball--the real one, not the cheap imitation used by that false prophet in this section every football season--to predict the fate of junior college teams in the region.

Concentrate, concentrate. Focus. That's it, that's it. It's all becoming clear . . .

* Ventura College, defending Western State Conference Northern Division co-champion with Hancock, will make a strong run at another title.

* Canyons will be in the chase for the division championship.

* Valley is vastly improved, especially on defense.

* Moorpark is not as deep as in previous years, but can't be underestimated.

* Glendale features the Kiddie Korps.

* Pierce is a work-in-progress.

* Antelope Valley is Glendale's counterpart in the Foothill Conference.

All right, all right. So the scoop came from WSC coaches, not an illuminated bubble-gum dispenser, but who cares? It's the speculation that counts, and there are plenty of people willing to stick their necks out.

"I still think it's pretty much like last year," said Coach Terry Morris, who guided Ventura to a 9-2 record last year. "It'll come down to Hancock and us again.

"I think Valley is going to be good and, of course, Canyons is a team to reckon with."

Ventura, ranked No. 12 in the state in preseason, and No. 5-ranked Hancock meet in Santa Maria on Sept. 23. The loser plays catch-up the rest of the season.

Valley, coming off a 5-5 season, is loaded on defense with several Division I-caliber players. Coach Carl Ferrill, in his second year with the Monarchs, said the offense needs to improve after a poor showing in a scrimmage on Saturday.

Still, the Monarchs are getting enough respect to be ranked No. 19 in the state.

Canyons, ranked No. 14 in Southern California, has a good balance of experienced sophomores and talented newcomers to be in the hunt every week. The Cougars finished 7-4 last season.

Moorpark, among the state's most distinguished programs for years, faces an uphill climb after a 6-5 showing in 1999. Coach Jim Bittner, in his 22nd season, said the Raiders have a lot of holes to fill.

"We are not settled at quarterback and we are not settled at running back, and our depth on the offensive line is not good," Bittner said.

"I know Hancock and Ventura will be strong again. I hope we'll be strong, but it's wait and see."

Glendale finished 4-6 last year with a much-more experienced squad, so this year's young group doesn't figure to make life easier for Coach John Cicuto. The Vaqueros have more than 60 freshmen.

"We are trying to survive here," Cicuto said.

Pierce, 1-9 each of the last two years, is aiming to win more than one game for the first time since finishing 2-8 in 1994. Spirits are high under second-year Coach David Banuelos, who is weeding out malcontents and steadily establishing a positive attitude with the Brahmas.

Coach Brent Carder of Antelope Valley is starting his 31st season and has a 169-134-5 record, third-best in the nation among junior college coaches. But with only 12 sophomores, Carder's victory total could be slow to increase this year.

Here's a team-by-team look at the players expected to make an impact:



Brent Carder, 31st season

* Coming back: RB David Newton was the team's second-leading rusher last year with 453 yards. LBs David Fetters and Adam Fabela are the only defensive players with significant experience. OGs Dustin Tupper and Terran Cheadle (6 feet 4, 355 pounds) anchor a solid line. Checking in: QBs Cory Allred from Rosamond High and Jamar Culver from Bethel Christian are vying to start. OTs Blake Gaskins from Paraclete and Stan Supernak from Quartz Hill complement Tupper and Cheadle.


Chuck Lyon, third season

* Coming back: RB Major Caldwell is among the best in the Western State Conference. QB Travis Winn has healed from a shoulder injury that kept him out most of last season and should form a formidable passing combination with WR Jason d'Autremont. CBs Josh Brandon and Omar Stewart, and S Gerald Jones provide outstanding pass coverage. Checking in: LBs Reginald Everett, from Miami and a transfer from Syracuse, and Dameon Haley, from Cleveland High, are solid at the position. G Paul Dalinsky from Hart is the team's top offensive lineman.


John Cicuto, 12th season

* Coming back: RB Jamel Applewhite is the man on offense. QB Seth Santoro, last year's punter, replaces Mike Frost, Glendale's career passing leader. Highly skilled DT Victor Bell returns after sitting out last season because of a broken arm. Checking in: RB Wes Jones, who had 821 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns last year at Crescenta Valley, leads a contingent of 68 freshmen.


Jim Bittner, 22nd season

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