The last time Cerritos College defeated Fullerton, Frank Mazzotta, Falcon coach, was still playing football at Pico Rivera’s El Rancho High School and Fullerton’s venerable Hal Sherbeck was at the University of Montana--coaching baseball.
That was in 1960, 25 l-o-n-g years ago. The teams have played 16 times since the Falcons scored a 33-0 victory over the Hornets that year, with Fullerton winning 15 times. In 1972, Fullerton and Cerritos tied, 13-13.
What really irks Mazzotta, who is 0-7 against the Hornets since taking over at Cerritos in 1978, is the fact that the streak has prevented Cerritos from getting proper recognition as one of the state’s best community college football programs. The Falcons may have winning records year after year, but, as critics point out, they’re always second-best to Fullerton.
“We’re always in the damn game with them, but we always end up beating ourselves, and that drives me nuts,” Mazzotta said. “I wouldn’t mind if we were outplayed and lost, but Fullerton had never really outplayed us since I’ve been here. But still, they’ve won every time and made this rivalry a lopsided deal.”
The last two losses to Fullerton have been especially hard for Mazzotta to take.
In 1983, the Hornets and Falcons played before an overflow crowd in Fullerton District Stadium to decide the South Coast Conference championship. With only seconds left in the first half and the score tied, 7-7, Fullerton’s John Collard intercepted a tipped pass and returned it 67 yards for a touchdown.
The Hornets went on to win, 24-17, and earned a berth in the Potato Bowl, where they defeated Taft for the national championship.
Cerritos, with its best team ever, settled for a berth in the PONY Bowl and routed Saddleback, but nobody seems to remember.
Last year, Cerritos led, 14-3, near the end of the first half, when the Hornets’ Rocky Mouw threw a long touchdown pass to make it 14-10 at the half. Fullerton got two field goals from Rich Frank, one a 52-yarder, to take a 16-14 lead, but Cerritos still had an opportunity to win in the final minutes.
The Falcons drove to the Fullerton 6-yard line but fumbled the ball away.
“In both those games, they got a big play right before the half,” Mazzotta said. “That fired them up and demoralized us. You could look at the kids’ faces when that happened and hear them think, ‘Here it is, the same old thing again.’ ”
Sherbeck, entering his 25th year, can’t seem to explain Fullerton’s mastery of Cerritos.
“I think there is some luck involved in order to win year after year as we have,” he said. “And I think it’s gotten to be a psychological thing for them after all these years, but I’m not sure.
“All I’m sure of is that I hope it continues.”
In today’s community college football games:
Cerritos (1-0) vs. Fullerton (1-1), Fullerton District Stadium, 7:30--Cerritos had a bye after its season-opening 26-6 win over San Diego Mesa, and Mazzotta thinks the extra week to prepare for Fullerton will be a big advantage. The Falcons, ranked 16th in the nation and third in the Southland, are led by Keith McCoy, who rushed 16 times for 147 yards and caught two passes for 61 more two weeks ago.
“McCoy has got to be the best running back in the conference,” Mazzotta said. Fullerton, however, has a talented running back of its own in John Green. Green, who gained 161 yards but fumbled four times in the Hornets’ season-opening loss to Rancho Santiago, carried the ball only 5 times for 132 yards and 2 touchdowns in Fullerton’s 54-9 rout of Orange Coast last week.
Fullerton, unranked nationally but ranked sixth in the Southland, scored on its first five possessions in handing the Pirates their third-worst loss in their 38-year history. Golden West (0-1-1) vs. Taft (1-0), Martin Memorial Stadium, 7:30--In two games, Golden West’s offense has been able to generate only 14 points, and that poor production is the reason the Rustlers still don’t have a win.
Missed field goals cost Golden West in its season-opening tie with Orange Coast and in last week’s 9-7 loss to Rancho Santiago, but Coach Ray Shackleford isn’t using that as an excuse.
“The bottom line is we’re not putting the ball in the end zone,” he said. “We are not a very good offensive football team right now.”
And what awaits the Rustlers in Taft? Possibly the worst ambush since the Little Big Horn. The Cougars, ranked eighth in the nation and No. 1 in the Southland, have their usual complement of oversized linemen and speedy running backs. They defeated West Hills, 28-6, in their first game last week.
Defending national champion Taft will be especially motivated tonight, because the Cougars’ only defeat last year came at the hands of Golden West, 21-17, in one of the most stunning upsets of the year.
Orange Coast (0-1-1) vs. Saddleback (2-0-0), Saddleback Field, 7:30--Orange Coast’s performance last Saturday in its lopsided loss to Fullerton was an embarrassment, plain and simple. It would appear that tonight’s game could be decided before the half.
Consider: Saddleback is ranked sixth in the nation and second in Southland, has won 44 straight home games and has outscored its first two opponents, 90-24.
Orange Coast, if it is to have any chance at beating the Gauchos for the first time since 1978, will have to stop quarterback Jason Schmid. He led Saddleback to a 42-10 rout of San Bernardino by completing 18 of 31 attempts for 264 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Riverside City (1-1) vs. Rancho Santiago (2-0), Santa Ana Stadium, 1:30--For the second straight time, the Dons were outgained by an opponent but managed to win when they defeated Golden West last Saturday, 9-7. That victory, coupled with a season-opening upset of Fullerton, has gotten Rancho Santiago some recognition.
The Dons are ranked 20th in the nation and fifth in the Southland. Today, however, the Dons find themselves in the strange position as favorite against the unranked Tigers, who were the a preseason choice along with Saddleback to win the Mission Conference but were upset, 15-14, by Mt. San Jacinto in their opener.
Last week, Riverside City gave a more representative performance when it routed Long Beach City, 35-0. Rancho Santiago’s defense, which has been its strength, will be given a test by the Tigers’ high-powered rushing attack. Clark Brown had gained 229 yards and scored three touchdowns in two games, and Mike Moore has gained 128 yards in two games to lead Riverside City.