COMMUNITY COLLEGE BOWL GAMES : Townsend Trades Glory for His Team’s Success


Brian Townsend of Rancho Santiago heard the speech by defensive coordinator Tom Nelson early last summer and said a gigantic smile washed over his face.


The news was awesome.

Rancho Santiago was switching defensive schemes to one similar to the “Desert Swarm” made famous by Arizona.

As a defensive end, Townsend had one responsibility in the new method. “They told us that all the ends did was go after the quarterback.”


Townsend, from Villa Park High, spent his summer dreaming of sacks and the big-time scholarship offers that were sure to follow.

But five days before the first game, Nelson and his staff tinkered with the lineup. Townsend was moved to the “whip” linebacker spot, where he was responsible for playing the run and pass. There were other changes in the unit as well, and the somewhat confused Dons were beaten soundly by El Camino, 55-28, in the opener.

“We just didn’t have people in the right spots yet,” Coach Dave Ogas said afterward.

Already depressed from the loss, Townsend, 6 feet 3 and 230 pounds, was given more bad news at the next practice.

He was being moved to defensive tackle. Now his primary job was to take on blockers and free others to get sacks and tackles.

“He made a sacrifice for the team,” Ogas said. “I know he didn’t want to do it but he did. He’s the real nucleus of our defense.”

Townsend didn’t hide his disappointment about the move.

“End is such a glory position,” he said. “I really had my heart set on it. I was frustrated and let them know. I couldn’t get anything right at first (at tackle). It was a whole new position to learn, but coach (Joe Jacobs) has really helped me a lot.”


Since the loss, Rancho Santiago has won nine games in a row (all with Townsend starting at tackle) and is ranked sixth in the nation and No. 1 in Southern California. The Dons play Los Angeles Valley (9-1) in the Simple Green Orange County Bowl at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Orange Coast College.

There is no doubt that Townsend’s sacrifice has helped the team, but it did cost him in statistics. Doubled-teamed on almost every play, he has one sack and 26 total tackles. Meanwhile, defensive ends Kent Miller and Dustin Williams have combined for 21 sacks.

But Townsend, an All-Mission Conference Central Division second-team selection, isn’t complaining.

“This is by far the most fun I’ve ever had on a team,” he said. “None of us want this season to end. I’m totally going to miss it.”

Townsend’s opinions on everything are hardly a secret around the Rancho Santiago program. He’s a member of Dons Corp, a group of players Ogas honors for their leadership ability. The group meets every Friday before games to discuss the direction of the team and to air complaints.

“He’s one of those guys that when he talks the players listen,” Ogas said. “As coaches, we listen to him as well.”


But Townsend, 20, initially didn’t offer his views aloud. He said he was intimidated for about the first half of last season and remained quiet as a result.

But as the season progressed, he played more and his confidence rose. He slowly became the vociferous person who criticizes teammates for not working hard in practice.

He was added to the Don Corp late last season and was elected again this season.

“That’s my pet-peeve,” he said about players relaxing in practice. “But sometimes they tell me if I’m yelling too much.”

Bowl Notes

Simon Fuentes set a Rancho Santiago single-season record for touchdown passes with 19. The Dons will be without starting fullback Kevin Pola (496 yards and 11 touchdowns) and defensive back and special teams player Fernando Salas. Both were ejected in Rancho Santiago’s victory over Saddleback in the regular-season finale and must sit out the next game under Mission Conference rules.