The Occidental men's soccer team is working to stop the attack of an opponent far more destructive than Azusa Pacific, the school the Tigers meet in their season opener Friday in the four-team Azusa Pacific tournament.
"It's the attack of the ingrown toenails," Occidental Coach Lowell Thomas said.
Indeed, three Occidental players are stricken with ingrown toenails. Luckily for the Tigers, All-American midfielder Jay Caba is not one of them.
With four players studying in Europe for a year, the Tigers have only six players back from last season's team, which finished 9-8-2 overall with a best-ever 8-4 mark in Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play during Thomas' first season as coach.
"For a person with only six returning players, I'm excited as hell," Thomas said. "The ingrown toenails are oddball things that will hopefully go away soon."
Add Occidental soccer: The men's and women's soccer teams, at the mercy of their soccer field and its faulty plumbing last season, have been victimized once again.
"We've had problems with that field ever since it was established a few years ago," said Sue Semrau, who is in her second season as coach of the Occidental women's team. "First it was too small. Then they re-did it and some rocks were surfacing. There was even a quicksand area."
Vandals damaged the sprinkler system during the summer, leaving the playing surface as dry as a desert. The men's and women's teams have relocated to the baseball field for practice and games.
"The soccer field is dead," Semrau said. However, the Occidental women's team's hopes for a SCIAC title are very much alive.
Junior Jos Bergmann, a center halfback, and senior Hillary Johns, moved from sweeper to stopper, were first-team all-conference selections last season for a team that finished 7-11-1 overall and 5-4-1 in the SCIAC.
Halfback Jenny Lawrence, the team MVP who scored eight goals and had seven assists, is also back for her senior season.
Occidental scrimmages today against Azusa Pacific and opens the season Monday against Westmont before embarking on a three-match trip to the Bay Area where the Tigers will play UC Santa Cruz, the University of San Francisco and San Francisco State.
Punting pathos: "Three yards and a cloud of dust" has come to describe not only Cal Lutheran's running attack, but also the Kingsmen punting game.
In an intra-squad game last Saturday, freshman punter Marc Warnke shanked a kick that wobbled about 15 yards beyond the line of scrimmage, then tumbled back toward the line before Warnke downed it himself.
The kick's net: nine feet.
At Cal Lutheran, the punter helps the coverage team by yelling "red," "white" or "blue" to indicate the direction of the punt, but Warnke simply yelled "short, short."
With the departure of punter Kent Sullivan, who recently tried out with the Chicago Bears, Cal Lutheran is calling all kickers. In the intra-squad game, Warnke booted several punts more than 30 yards with good hang time before the dribbler.
Cary Caulfield, an inside linebacker, also punted with moderate success and will kick at Sonoma State on Saturday. However, Coach Bob Shoup said Caulfield is also the team's best long snapper.
Freshman Len Bradley has been selected the back-up punter, and Dave Fick, who walked on this week, could be ready by the next game.
Shoup said that in light of the punting situation he may be more inclined to go for the first down on fourth-and-short "more than we would have last year, when we had the possibility of kicking a 60-yarder . . . versus the possibility of kicking one backward."
Halfway home: The health of his players--particularly beefy offensive linemen--has been of special concern for Bob Burt, football coach at Cal State Northridge.
With Division I teams from Cal State Long Beach and Cal State Fullerton first up on the schedule, CSUN's fourth-year coach voiced some concern that his squad might get beat up before they had a fair crack at a Division II foe.
But if last Saturday's season-opener at Long Beach was any indication, he need not worry. Northridge reported no serious injuries. Allan Chatman, a reserve linebacker, has a sore knee and might miss the Fullerton game but he'll be ready for the Matadors' home opener against Sonoma State on Sept. 16, Burt said.
Instant replay: The mood around the Northridge locker room was upbeat after the Matadors lost to Cal State Long Beach, 28-9, Saturday. CSUN players claimed, despite the score, that they had played close to even against the Division I 49ers--and in some cases outplayed them.
"We controlled the game," said CSUN tailback Albert Fann, who rushed for a game-high 110 yards. "We just made big mistakes when it was time to capitalize."
Burt seconded that opinion after watching the game film. "We found out we could play against a team like Long Beach, which is something we didn't know for sure going in," Burt said. "What was displeasing was that we should have won the ballgame. It was all a question of momentum and frame of mind at the end.
"We didn't get two or three scores that we should have. If we get the hold down on our first field goal, we score that time and maybe the next time down, too. . . . We could have had a two-touchdown lead at one point. If that happens, maybe (the 49ers) don't come back like they did."
Passing fancy: Darren Del'Andrae, a former Calabasas High standout, appears to have finally secured the job as Portland State's No. 1 quarterback. He completed 11 of 16 passes for 145 yards and a touchdown in three quarters during a 35-21 victory over Cameron (Okla.) University on Saturday.
Portland, two-time champion of the Western Football Conference, trailed, 7-0, when Del'Andrae entered the game in relief of starter Don Bailey. The Vikings marched 80 yards for a touchdown on his first drive, and they scored again on their next possession.
"We were jittery at first and our offense was kind of in a trance until Del'Andrae came in and woke us up," Portland Coach Pokey Allen said.
Said Rick Olson, a Portland assistant: "Darren is definitely more of a gamer than a practice player. He's got the magic, the ability to make things happen."
Del'Andrae will start when Portland plays host to Idaho on Saturday.
Short-handed: Antelope Valley opens its football season against traditional power El Camino on Saturday night, but the Marauders could be without outside linebacker Matt Volpe, who was expected to start practicing Wednesday after a 10-day battle with the mumps.
"We could really use his experience and leadership," Antelope Valley Coach Brent Carder said. "But he'll only play sparingly, if at all."
Volpe is one of five returning starters on a 43-man roster that includes only seven sophomores.
Making tracks: Erick McBride was recruited by Cal State Northridge because of his ability to run track, but the Palmdale High graduate could be one of the Matadors' top seven cross-country runners this season.
CSUN Coach Don Strametz reached that conclusion last week after a high-altitude training camp in the Mammoth Lakes area, where McBride was able to stay with some of the Matadors' more experienced teammates.
"He really showed a tremendous amount of ability and determination," Strametz said. "Originally, I had planned to redshirt him this season. I didn't think he'd be a factor in cross-country this year, but he took himself out of that category with his performance up there."
Suffering from a cold, McBride finished a disappointing ninth in the 800 meters at the Southern Section Masters meet in May after winning the 4-A Division title in a personal best of 1 minute, 51.52 seconds.
He signed a letter of intent with Northridge in early July and has dramatically improved his endurance background since then.
"It'll be interesting to see how he does," Strametz said. "There's a big difference between 800 and 10,000 meters."
Gary Klein and staff writers Brendan Healey, Mike Hiserman and John Ortega contributed to this notebook.