The long-awaited rebirth of the College of the Canyons football team will come to fruition when the Cougars kick off their first season in 17 years Sept. 12 at Desert.
But Coach Chuck Lyon, a former Canyons quarterback who scored the first touchdown in the school's stadium in 1974, gushes as if he is ready to place the ball on the tee right now and give it the boot himself.
Lyon, 42, hired in January to resurrect the program, has assembled a staff of assistants and continues to receive inquiries from players throughout the Santa Clarita Valley and beyond.
Former Saugus High quarterbacks Chris Kobe and Kevin Carrasco, transfers from Cal State Northridge and San Jose City College, have spent the spring throwing spirals for Lyon.
Running back Matt Gregory, who rushed for 1,248 yards and eight touchdowns last season at Canyon High, is among about 30 local players likely to suit up this fall for the first Cougar team since 1981.
Adding to enthusiasm, the college's weight room recently underwent a $28,000 renovation, and a campus fitness center is nearing completion in the school gym.
"When you see all of this going so well, all this new equipment coming in, it feels so good," Lyon said. "We're getting a lot of quality kids. I hesitate to mention names right now, but I'm not kidding you--recruiting is going very well."
Quite a turnaround for a program canceled in 1981 because of budgetary problems. Efforts by the Santa Clarita Community College board of trustees and the College of the Canyons Foundation, the school's fund-raising arm, resulted in a campaign to raise the necessary $200,000 in start-up costs. Resumption of the program was approved by the board in May 1997.
Lyon, an assistant for 11 years at Pasadena and Long Beach city colleges, will serve as offensive coordinator.
The staff includes former Canyon linebacker and Glendale College assistant Scott Blade, and Leon Kriner, a former Hancock College assistant who will serve as defensive coordinator.
Former Burroughs High Coach Robert Dos Remedios will coach the offensive line and Joey Charles, a former teammate of Lyon's at Canyons and a former assistant at Valley, will coach running backs.
Canyons, which will play in the Western State Conference North Division, follows its opener with a nonconference game at Antelope Valley.
On Sept. 26, a date circled on calendars at Canyons, the Cougars play host to Compton in their first home game in nearly two decades.
Canyons and Glendale renew their rivalry Oct. 31 at Canyons.
An investigation of the Antelope Valley College athletic department into alleged violations of Title IX, which prohibits gender discrimination against women, likely will be completed within two weeks, a spokesman for the the U.S. Department of Education said.
Antelope Valley last month became the subject of a probe after the department's Office for Civil Rights responded to an anonymous complaint that alleged the college discriminated against female athletes in several areas, including provision of equipment, facilities, transportation and services.
Education officials toured the Lancaster campus three weeks ago, interviewing coaches and inspecting facilities.
"The case is still open but we are very close to resolving it," spokesman Rodger Murphey said.
Murphey said a determination on a course of action likely will be made within two weeks.
Schools found in violation of Title IX, which was adopted in 1972 to ensure equality between sexes in education, including interscholastic athletics, risk losing federal funding. But most complaints are resolved without sanctions being imposed, Murphey said.
Senior Beth Burton and sophomores Christina Tolson and Cheree Hicks of Cal State Northridge, who finished 1-2-3 in the women's shotput in the Big Sky Conference track and field championships in Ogden, Utah, last month, will compete in that event in the NCAA championships at the University of Buffalo (N.Y.), today.
Burton set a school record of 54 feet 8 3/4 inches in winning the Big Sky Conference title, Tolson ranks second at 53-7 and Hicks third at 52-7 1/4 on the all-time Northridge list.
Hicks and Northridge senior Joe Criner struggled Wednesday.
Hicks' 154-foot throw in the discus failed to advance her to the finals and Criner finished a non-qualifying fifth in a first-round heat of the men's 200 meters with a time of 21.35 seconds.
Staff writer John Ortega contributed to this notebook.