It is an odd way for a football team to come onto the field, but Pierce College’s hand-in-hand march from the locker room to the sideline before each game seems to be working. The Brahmas (4-1-1) are off to their best start since 1984.
The hand holding might not project a macho image, but Coach Bill Norton believes that a purpose is served.
“It’s to show unity and togetherness,” said Norton, who is in his first season as head coach. “I told the guys at the start of the season that they didn’t have to do it if they weren’t comfortable with it, but they didn’t seem to mind once I explained why.”
Defensive lineman Ed Staley echoed Norton’s sentiments after Pierce’s 7-7 tie with L. A. Southwest on Saturday.
Asked if the Brahmas’ defensive improvement was the key to the team’s success, Staley replied: “It’s helped but we don’t win with just defense. Everyone else has to do their jobs too. We’re just a bunch of guys who play together as a team and want to win.”
Norton views himself as a player’s coach, one who calls the shots but is not so distant that he cannot communicate.
When offensive lineman Khashi Tabrizi came to Norton two weeks ago with a suggestion to add music to the pregame warmups, Norton was all for it.
“He said the guys felt like they needed a little something extra to get pumped up,” Norton said. “I said, ‘That’s fine, but I choose the music.’
“After all, we play in front of a family-oriented crowd and some of the music kids listen to these days is laced full of four-letter words.”
Tabrizi said fine, as long as Norton--who wears cowboy boots, lives in Quartz Hill and has a quarter horse named Igor--promised that he wouldn’t play country-western music.
Norton chose “In the Air Tonight,” by Phil Collins, and “We Are Family,” by Sister Sledge, and the tunes were played on a portable tape player before Saturday’s game against Southwest.
STRUTTING HIS STUFF
Darrell Waterford caught the attention of Cal Lutheran coaches Saturday in the Kingsmen’s 33-7 win over Claremont-Mudd.
Waterford, who does not start, had seven tackles and he sacked Claremont quarterback Michael Sullivan for an eight-yard loss.
His tackle total was not a team high, though. Defensive back Cory Undlin and linebacker Sal Jimenez each had 10, including hits for losses of seven and six yards, respectively.
But Waterford, a 6-foot-1, 260-pound boulder on the defensive line, was about as subtle as an avalanche.
With Cal Lutheran ahead, 27-7, in the third quarter, Waterford tackled Sullivan and forced an incomplete pass. Then he hovered over the downed quarterback, gesticulating and taunting about Cal Lutheran’s impending win.
After Waterford got up, Sullivan remained on the ground for several minutes gasping for the air that had been knocked out of him.
“I think we got (Sullivan’s) attention,” Cal Lutheran Coach Joe Harper said.
Certainly Waterford got everyone else’s.
Damone Scott, Northridge’s reserve quarterback, rushed six times for 34 yards against Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, including a 21-yard gain that was a great escape.
With three Mustang defenders surrounding him, Scott bumped into one of his teammates, shook off an ankle tackle, staggered and almost fell, then bolted ahead for the second-longest Northridge run of the game.
LEAN ON ME
Center Skip Allum, a second team All-Western Football Conference selection last season, did more than anchor the Northridge offensive line against San Luis Obispo. During the first quarter, he was literally holding up quarterback Marty Fisher in the huddle. Fisher, who was weakened by flu, finally was forced to leave the game with 7 minutes 3 seconds left in the second quarter. Fisher is expected to return this week.
The Northridge women’s volleyball team snapped a two-match losing streak last Saturday as outside hitter Dawn Krenik recorded 15 kills in a four-game win over Cal State Sacramento.
Krenik, a 5-foot-7 junior who is considered the top defensive player on the team, has become a major contributor on offense in recent weeks.
“Dawn has become a consistent left-side attacker,” Coach Walt Ker said. “There was one game against Sacramento where she was a human highlight film.”
Some players mentioned the difficulty of seeing the ball in the steady downpour. Others noted the large puddles on the turf that were menacing enough to stop a kicked ball on a dime.
Such were the elements when Northridge defeated the University of San Diego, 2-1, in overtime, at North Campus Stadium last Saturday.
“It was tough,” said Northridge forward Bobby Reyes, who scored the winning goal in the first overtime.
“There were a bunch of puddles on the wings that messed up our strategy. You try to dribble and you think you’re going, but the ball is 10 yards behind you.”
But after Reyes’ goal gave Northridge (10-5-1) the victory and kept the Matadors’ slim playoff hopes alive, Northridge Coach Marwan Ass’ad put the adverse playing conditions in perspective.
“No, no no,” Ass’ad said when asked if it was difficult to run a game plan under the wet conditions. “This is normal in Europe.”
THE VIGOR OF VUJIC
Don Strametz, Northridge’s cross-country coach, readily concedes that this has been a disappointing season for the Matador men’s and women’s teams, but Sasha Vujic’s win at the Cal Poly Pomona invitational last Saturday gave Strametz something to smile about.
Vujic, a junior from Burroughs High, clocked 24:05 over the five-mile course to defeat runner-up Kevin Berko of UC Irvine by 18 seconds.
“That is his best race of the season by far,” Strametz said. "(Cal Poly Pomona Coach) Jim Sackett came up to me after the race and said, ‘If he runs that way at regionals, he’s got a chance to make it to nationals.’ ”
The top three teams and the top three individuals among the top 15 who are not on a qualifying team at the District 8 meet Nov. 16 will advance to the NCAA meet.
Wide receiver Cornell Ward last week threw his third touchdown pass of the season for Northridge, hooking up with Paul Peters on a 66-yard play. Ward has thrown as many touchdown passes as Sherdrick Bonner did last season when Bonner was the Matadors’ starting quarterback. Ward also has 14 receptions for 142 yards. . . .
Bill Harris rushed for a season-high 128 yards in 14 carries against San Luis Obispo, including a 75-yard run, the second longest by a Northridge player since 1987. . . .
Bryon Ward and Patrick Dorsey, reserve linebackers for Northridge, were given considerable playing time against San Luis Obispo because of a knee injury that sidelined O.J. Ojomoh.
Ward made four tackles and Dorsey was in on seven, including two unassisted. Ojomoh is expected to return against Southern Utah on Saturday.
Ron Twersky and staff writers Theresa Munoz, John Ortega and Wendy Witherspoon contributed to this notebook.
A look at last week’s top performers from area colleges.
Player Att. Com. Yds. TD Corey Tucker, Moorpk 23 13 204 1 Adam Hacker, CLU 18 6 152 3 Matt Brimigion, Vent. 19 9 97 2
Player TC Yds TD Rafik Thorossian, Glendale 17 204 3 Jamal Anderson, Moorpark 15 137 3 Bill Harris, CSUN 14 128 1
Player Rec. Yds TD Curtis Marsh, Moorpark 7 111 0 Scott Wheeler, CLU 3 86 2 Paul Peters, CSUN 3 84 1