GAME DAY / Alook at Today's Key Matchups



At Walkup SkyDome, Flagstaff, Ariz., 6:05 p.m.

Shoring up an offensive line that hardly protected quarterback Marcus Brady and running back Melvin Blue in Northridge's 26-13 loss at Boise State on Sept. 5 was Coach Ron Ponciano's primary chore the last two weeks. "We're substantially better," Ponciano said. The reshuffled line has Mike Barnes at left guard and Julio Alcala at center. Barnes, who joined the Matadors just before the Boise State game but did not play against the Broncos, played at Arizona State two years ago. Alcala, normally a tackle, is rounding into form after off-season back surgery. Barnes replaces Taffe Aina, lost to academics, and Alcala takes over for Beau Cherry, lost for a few weeks to a knee injury. "[Barnes] is a rascal in there," Ponciano said. "That [offensive line] is kind of rallying around him." Ponciano better hope so. Northern Arizona has 11 sacks, including seven last week in a 38-16 victory over Southwest Texas State. Defensive end Erique Olsen leads the team with three sacks. Boise State sacked Brady five times and dropped Blue for losses six times. Blue's longest run was 11 yards. Jerome Souers, Montana's former defensive coordinator, is trying to become the second Northern Arizona first-year coach in 65 years to start 3-0. Junior Travis Brown, third in Northern Arizona's career list with 7,149 yards passing, won't start tonight after hurting an elbow last week. Sophomore Clay Brown, no relation, replaces him. Sophomore Francis St. Paul ranks sixth in Division I-AA with 262 yards receiving. Northridge's only victory at Northern Arizona was 21-20 in 1968, the series' first game. The Matadors are 1-7 in Flagstaff. Northridge defeated the Lumberjacks, 21-13, in the 1997 season finale.


* CAL LUTHERAN (1-1) vs. WHITTIER (0-1)

At Wallace Newman Memorial Stadium, Whittier, 7 p.m.

Two of three teams that shared the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship last season meet in a conference opener. Whittier lost last week to Menlo, 19-14, an opponent Cal Lutheran defeated in its opener, 24-21. The Poets moved the ball on the ground behind Damin Hurst, who rushed for 104 yards in 22 carriers, but Steve Luce completed only nine of 35 passes for 157 yards. Luce led the SCIAC with an average of 302.8 passing yards per game last season. Mike Windsor is Whittier's most-dangerous receiver, and he had four catches for 100 yards against Menlo. Last season, Cal Lutheran defeated Whittier, 28-16, the 10th time in 12 games the Kingsmen have beaten the Poets. Ryan Geisler kicked two field goals in the game for Cal Lutheran. Geisler missed all six of his field-goal attempts in Cal Lutheran's 20-14 double-overtime loss to Pacific Lutheran last week. The tandem of Dorian Stitt, who has 199 yards in 42 carries, and Fredrik Nanhed, who has 133 yards in 34 carries, has been productive for the Kingsmen.


* VALLEY (0-0) vs. PIERCE (0-1)

At Pierce College, 4 p.m.

In the 31st meeting between the schools, Valley is a decided favorite. The Monarchs, 6-4 last season, begin the season after a bye last week. Freshman Travis Winn from Chatsworth High will start at quarterback, a decision Coach Gary Barlow made this week. Running backs Jamian Barbour, a sophomore and returning starter, and Vinny Walker, a freshman from Monroe, might give the Monarchs more run than shoot this season. Kevin Carlsen, who caught 39 passes last season, is the most experienced returning player from a depleted receiving corps. Pierce lost its 29th consecutive game last week, 21-18, to San Diego Mesa. The Brahmas' passing game can be explosive, but several throws by quarterback Calvin Zinck were deflected by Mesa defenders. Zinck, a transfer from Moorpark, was sacked three times. Basil Duncantell had 10 receptions and Vaughn had nine against Mesa.

* MOORPARK (0-0) vs. VENTURA (1-0)

At Ventura High, 7 p.m.

Moorpark was idle in the season's first week while Ventura equaled its victory total of last season with a 33-14 victory over Compton. The Pirates found running back Travis Rogers, a freshman from Morriston, Tenn., who rushed for 243 yards and a touchdown in 33 carries against Compton. Ventura lost defensive back Rashadd Cousins for the season because of a dislocated right shoulder suffered against Compton. Cousins suited up after removing a cast on a broken thumb. Ventura's defense will be inspired to stop Moorpark's running attack, which features Carl Richardson, from Rio Mesa High, and freshman Emmanuel Evans from Birmingham High. Richardson was fourth in the Western State Conference last season with 1,195 rushing yards.


At Antelope Valley College, 7 p.m.

Canyons enters its first game with the Marauders since 1980 with a 42-32 opening-week victory over Desert under its belt. Coach Chuck Lyon still is sorting out personnel in the Cougars' first season in 17 years. One impact player has emerged, sophomore Jason Parks, who rushed for 219 yards and two touchdowns against Desert. Parks placed fourth in the 400-meter dash in the WSC championships in April. Quarterbacks Chris Kobe, Peter Dirksen and Kevin Carrasco remain locked in a battle for the starting position. Carrasco will take the first series tonight. Quarterback Justin Holtfreter of Antelope Valley suffered a bruised sternum in a 49-13 loss at Grossmont. Holtfreter missed two days of practice and freshman Monte Gutowski will start. Canyons defeated Antelope Valley, 8-0, in 1980. The series is tied, 3-3.


At Glendale High, 1 p.m.

Darrell Durham of Glendale, who rushed for 1,500 yards last season, began with a 197-yard performance in a 31-27 victory over Victor Valley. Yet the 6-foot-1, 218-pound sophomore is a few weeks away from peak form, Coach John Cicuto said. Durham reported to summer practice in less than satisfactory physical condition and continues to progress. Like many coaches, Cicuto is shuffling quarterbacks. Sophomore Chris Cervantes and freshman Mike Frost from Ayala High will continue to rotate. Frost completed 12 of 20 for 236 yards and two touchdowns against Victor Valley. Glendale and Southwestern have met only once in football, with the Apaches defeating Glendale in the South Bay Bowl in 1982.

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