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Camino Fears Hard Test at Mt. Sac : Coach Pleased With Team but Warns of Mountie Strength

Times Staff Writer

El Camino football Coach John Featherstone thinks opponents are getting tougher by the game. He says Saturday’s 1:30 p.m. game at Mt. San Antonio College will be his team’s hardest test so far.

“It just seems like it doesn’t get any easier for us,” Featherstone said. “Quite frankly, I was shocked that we handled Pasadena so easily, and Mt. Sac . . . they’re a very good football team. We’re definitely the underdogs.”

The No. 15 Warriors are 4-1-1, 3-1-1 in the Mission Conference, after last week’s victory over Pasadena. Their strength remains in the offense, which has been effective in running and passing.

Running backs Aaron Craver and Neil Tuihalamaka are the biggest part of El Camino’s ground game, and quarterbacks Frank Dolce and Scott Yessner have added to the offense with strong passing.

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Dolce, who left the Pasadena game in the second quarter because of a reoccurring ankle injury, completed 7 of 10 passes for 86 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Yessner started late in the second quarter and completed 4 of 6 passes for 69 yards and 1 touchdown. Dolce will start against Mt. Sac, but Yessner is also expected to play.

Both have to be in top form for a victory against No. 9 Mt. Sac (5-1, 4-1 in the Mission Conference), the top team in Mission’s northern division and off to its best start in five years.

The Mounties have one of the top running backs in the league in freshman Leonard Russell, an all-CIF player from Long Beach Poly who averages 120 yards a game. They also have all-conference sophomore Tim Callier in the backfield.

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Freshman quarterback John Spear needs experience, according to Mt. Sac Coach Bill Fisk, so the Mounties won’t do a lot of passing. He completed 12 of 22 for 190 yards last week when the Mounties shut out Long Beach, 21-0.

“They’re a very physical team,” Featherstone said “and we’re going to have to play them physically. But I’m real pleased with my football team right now. We know that we control our own destiny this year.”

Unfortunately, that doesn’t apply to L.A. Harbor.

While a victory is very possible for El Camino, it’s not likely for the Seahawks, (1-6, 1-4 in the Western State Conference), who play host to fifth-ranked Glendale at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

The Seahawks have a four-game losing streak after being shut out last week by Moorpark in the WSC northern division opener, and the Vaqueros are undefeated (6-0, 5-0 in the WSC).

Harbor’s offense continues to suffer the loss of quarterback Ed Lopez, who underwent knee surgery last week for an injury received against Compton two weeks ago.

The Seahawks will finish the season with freshman quarterback Grant Beachley, who started his second game last week and completed only 10 of 22 passes for 75 yards and 2 interceptions.

“Grant jumped in and did an admirable job,” said Harbor Coach Chris Ferragamo. “It was a good learning game for him. I think he has a lot of ability.”

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And so do the Vaqueros, whose biggest challenge this season was against Valley in a game they won, 17-10. Their strong running game, led by tailbacks Sean Hampton and Doug Dragomer, is tough to stop.

Glendale’s defense will also present problems for the Seahawks. It’s led by linebacker Andres Washington, a transfer from Washington State University, and Mark McMillan, a preseason all-American defensive back.


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