Palomar Coach Presides Over Breakup of Champs

Palomar College players and assistant coaches are celebrating the school's first national football championship--J.C. Grid-Wire named Palomar and N.E. Oklahoma co-national champions Tuesday--but Coach Tom Craft has little time to celebrate these days.

He is already working on replacing and placing the players that are leaving.

"All this hasn't set in," Craft said. "What I'm focusing on is how are we going to replace all these people."

Craft is losing nine starters on offense and six on defense from his 10-1 team.

"The players should be proud of themselves for what they've accomplished," Craft said. "Unfortunately, I'm not digging this yet. I'm the one guy that has to be responsible for next year. I'm sure in a month or so I'll have some time to enjoy this."

Before Craft can begin to put the pieces back together for next season, he must make sure the old pieces find new homes.

"There's a tremendous amount of pressure to get our own kids out," Craft said. "That's our job. We are obligated to see as many kids get scholarships as we can."

Craft said he believes he can place all 15 departing starters in Division I, Division I-AA or Division II programs next year.

His hottest commodity appears to be wide receiver Jerry Garrett, a first team junior college All-American selection by J.C. Grid-Wire. Garrett, who attended Oceanside High, is being wooed by UCLA, Arizona and most recently San Diego State. Oregon State is recruiting Garrett as an option quarterback.

Craft said Garrett is leaning toward UCLA. Because of a less than spectacular academic career, Garrett must pass all of his classes in the spring and summer sessions to get his Associate of Arts degree.

"You don't like to put a lot of pressure on him, but you'd like to tell him, 'Depending on what you do in the next six months, you can be set for life,' " Craft said. "He can play at the next level after major college. For somebody like Jerry, athletics is a tremendous vehicle."

Palomar's other starting receiver, Myron Wise, is being recruited by Houston and Cal and slot back Choo Choo Walker by Memphis State as a quarterback.

Quarterback Andy Loveland, who played at San Pasqual, has been looked at by Tulane, Oklahoma State and Utah State. Defensive lineman Tomasi Amituanai, a first team J.C. Grid-Wire All-American, is being sought by Clemson and Arizona.

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