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Comets in NFL, 4-year colleges

Former Palomar and Wyoming DE

Mace awaiting 2nd season with Bills

Corey Mace Former Palomar and University of Wyoming defensive end Corey Mace will begin his second NFL season with the Buffalo Bills when training camp begins two weeks from Friday at Rochester, NY.

Mace, a 6-foot-3, 287-pounder, spent the first 16 weeks on the Bills' practice squad in 2007 before being activated to the regular roster before their Dec. 28 game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

He spent part of 2008 mini-camp playing with the Bills' first team.

Nevada has signed second-team J.C. Grid-Wire All-American linebacker Mike Bethea, shown making a tackle in victory over Golden West last Fall. .-- (Photo by Rick Rowell) ORDER  PHOTOS (password: cometball)

All-American LB Bethea signs with

Nevada; 5 others bring list to 22

(4/28/08) (6/20/08) (7/5/08)

Palomar J.C. Grid-Wire second-team All-America linebacker Mike Bethea has signed with the University of Nevada and will play for the Wolf Pack of the Western Athletic Conference this upcoming Fall.

Bethea, a 6-foot-3, 240-pound La Costa Canyons High School product, led the Comets' 2007 team in tackles (77 in 10 games), solo tackles (38) and tackles for losses (10). He also had an interception and a fumble recovery.

Also, All-Mission Conference center Vic Aquilina signed became the third Comet to sign with Western Carolina.

Kicker Joe Carithers signed with NCAA Division I Eastern Michigan University of the MAC. Carithers made eight-of-14 field goals and 40-of-42 PAT's for Palomar's 2007 team. The Eagles' 2008 schedule includes games at Michigan State on Sept. 6, Maryland on Sept. 20 and Army on Oct. 11.

Tight end Keena Kuumba will play at Sacramento State, bringing the list of Palomar players moving onto the four-year college level to 20.

Offensive tackle Jack Dill signed with NCAA Division II Concord University of Athens, GA. Running back Adrian Allen, who rushed for 237 yards and three touchdowns playing in six games for the Comets as a freshman in 2006. He missed the 2007 season with a broken hand, signed with NAIA school Culver-Stockton College of Canton, MO.

The list of Palomar players signing and / or already having transferred to four-year colleges, as of July 5

  • ILB Mike Bethea, University of Nevada

  • K Joe Carithers, Eastern Michigan University

  • QB Hunter Wanket, Central Connecticut State University

  • REC Kyle Hill, Sacramento State University

  • TE Keena Kuumba, Sacramento State University

  • DE Mao Lefiti, South Dakota State University

  • CB Michael Wright, Idaho State University

  • C Vic Aquilina Western Carolina University

  • OT Brandon Hribar, Western Carolina University

  • S Breyan McQueen, Western Carolina University

  • WR Stephan Towns, Stony Brook University

  • DE Geraldo Powell, Hampton University

  • OT Jack Dill, Concord University

  • LB Lawrence Hunt, Missouri Valley College

  • DL Tim Asavaio, Missouri Valley College

  • DE Simon Malo, Missouri Valley College

  • RB Adrian Allen, Culver-Stockton College

  • CB Chancey Duriso, UTEP (walk-on)

  • LB Willie Waters, San Diego State (walk-on)

  • WR/PR Marques Parker (2006 team), TCU

  • LB Tyler Hiatt, Adams State College

  • DT Tony Kalone (2006 team), University of Northern Colorado

Second-team All-American linebacker Mike Bethea helped lead the Comets to a final No. 26 ranking in the nation. (Photo by Hugh Gerhardt).

Palomar football squad ranked

No. 26 in nation among JC teams


Palomar finished the football season ranked No. 26 in the nation by the J.C. Grid-Wire. The Comets went 7-3 and finished second in the American Division of the Mission Conference, ranked as the toughest community college conference in America.

City College of San Francisco, which defeated Mt. SAC 31-28 in the California Community College Athletic Association championship game, won the mythical national title, followed in the top 10 by co-No. 2 teams Mississippi Gulf Coast and Butler (Kansas), No. 4 Bakersfield, No. 5 Foothill, No. 6 Snow  (Utah), No. 7 El Camino, No. 8 Mt. SAC, No. 9 Navarro (Texas) and No. 10 Sierra. The Comets defeated Mt. SAC during the season.











Palomar team MVP Tobias Shanks catches TD pass in wins over Long Beach City College (left) and  over Grossmont (Photos by Rick Rowell). ORDER  PHOTOS (password: cometball)

Shanks voted team MVP honors

by Palomar's 2007 football squad


Sophomore wide receiver Tobias Shanks was named team Most Valuable Player at Palomar's football banquet Sunday evening at the Dome.


Most Valuable Player  -- Tobias Shanks; Offensive Player of the Year -- Leilyon Myers; Defensive Player of the Year -- Mike Bethea; Lineman of the Year -- Vic Aquilina; Special Teams Player of the Year -- Kyle Hill; Kevin Kelly Award -- Kyle Hill; Offensive Captain -- Hunter Wanket; Defensive Captain -- Mike Bethea; Most Improved -- Tim Asevaeo; Most Inspiratioal -- David Batts; Highest GPA -- Mike Bethea (3.59, eduation major); Special Teams Hammer Award -- Jon Prince; Special Teams Ironman Award -- Bubba Pugh; Kodak Award (scout team) -- Stanley Faasua; Above and Beyond Awards -- James McCarver, Diondre Grigsby, Lathan Webber, Michael Wright; Coaches' Awards -- Lawrence Hunt, Willie Watters

ABOVE: Mike Bethea (36)  a second-team J.C. Grid-Wire All-American selection. (Photo by Rick Rowell)  UPPER LEFT:  Honorable mention and first-team Academic All-American Kyle Hill. MIDDLE RIGHT: Honorable mention Leilyon Myers. LOWER LEFT: Honorable mention Bubba Pugh.

Bethea second-team All-American

and Hill makes Academic first team


Palomar sophomore middle linebacker Mike Bethea, who helped lead the Comets to a 7-3 record and final No. 26 national ranking. has been named to the J.C. Grid-Wire All-American second team.

Sophomore slot receiver / kick returner Kyle Hill (left) was named to the Grid-Wire's Academic All-American first team.

Bethea, a 6-foot-3, 240-pound La Costa High School product  who is considered a major Division I prospect, led the Comets with 77 tackles, 10 for losses. He also intercepted a pass and recovered a fumble.

Freshman running back Leilyon Myers (middle right), freshman inside linebacker Bubba Pugh (lower left) and Hill all received honorable mention on the regular All-American team..

Myers prepped a Lynwood High School and originally signed with the University of Washington. Pugh played at Rancho Buena Vista High. Hill played at Oceanside High.

Bethea received Academic All-American honorable mention selection. He was ineligible to make the first team because of his selection on the regular All-American team.

Bethea carries a 3.65 grade-point average as an education major. Hill carries a 3.2 grade-point average as a liberal studies major..

The J.C. Grid-Wire All-America team is the only community college team to honor players from all 147 JC teams from both California and the National Junior College Athletic Association (non-California schools).

The team has been selected by the legendary Hank Ives from votes throughout the nation since 1960, when Roger Staubach of New Mexico Military, who went on to win the Heisman Trophy at Navy and become one of the best NFL quarterbacks in history with the Dallas Cowboys, headed the first-ever Grid-Wire team.

Palomar's Diondre Grigsby heads toward the end zone on a 23-yard pass-and-run from quarterback Joey Erickson in Southern California Bowl game vs. Ventura. (Photo by Hugh Gerhardt)

Myers runs for 3 TDs but Comets

fall Ventura in Southern Cal Bowl


Palomar rolled up 489 yards in total offense against Ventura in the Southern California Bowl on Saturday at Escondido's Wilson Stadium.

But, on an evening elusive Ventura quarterback Lee Mondol, a transfer from the University of Michigan, threw five touchdown passes, it wasn't enough.

The Pirates held off the Comets 39-34 in a game in which the teams traded the lead back and fourth -- but the Palomar couldn't overcome the TD passes and 116 critical yards in penalties.

For the Comets, who finished the season 7-3, Leiyon Myers (left)  rushed for 96 yards and three touchdowns on 23 carries. Joey Erickson connected on 20 of 30 passes for 244 yards and a touchdown. Diondre Fulford added 89 yards rushing on 10 carries. Diondre Grisby scored two touchdowns, on a 23-yard pass-run play from Erickson and a 4-yard run he set up himself with a 33-yard run.

Middle linebacker Mike Bethea had another productive game defensively with 12 tackles, nine solo Outside linebacker Bubba Pugh had 11 tackles, six solo. Mao Lefiti and Lawrence Hunt had seven tackles each. Braxton Brennan blocked an extra point.

Ventura finishes 8-3.


Middle linebacker Mike Bethea (above) and linebacker Lawrence Hunt (below left) haul down Golden West players  No. 21 in top photo is outside linebacker Bubba Pugh. (Photos by Rick Rowell) ORDER  PHOTOS (password: cometball)

Comets try to close 2007 season

with bowl victory and 8-2 record


Palomar will try to close out the 2007 football season in style Saturday when the Comets host Ventura in the Southern California Bowl.

Kickoff will be at 4 p.m. at Wilson Stadium on the Escondido High School campus. The Comets come into the game with a 7-2 record and No. 25 national ranking by the J.C. Grid-Wire. The Pirates, co-champions of  the Western State Conference Western Division, are 7-3.

"It's their first post-season game in a while and they have a six-game win streak," Palomar coach Joe Early said of Ventura. "If they can beat a Mission Conference team, and particularly Palomar, it will be a big feather in their caps.

"I'm sure they're going to come in sky high. We've got to be aware of that, be consistent and play our game."

Palomar  will get Donnell Fulford, who missed last week's 52-49 victory over Golden West, back from an ankle sprain. First-team all-conference All-Mission Conference American Division selection Leilyon Myers and Fulford, a second-team pick, give the Comets a potent 1-2 rushing punch to go along with quarterback Joey Erickson's  passing.

"I'm sure Ventura will try to work time of possession to try to keep the ball away from our offense," Early said. "When we get our opportunities we've got to capitalize."

Richie Martin will get the start at slot receiver in place of the injured Kyle Hill. Hill and linebacker Willie Waters both were lost during the Golden West game last week due to injuries. Hill is on crutches. Waters underwent knee surgery on Tuesday.




16 -- Joey Erickson, 6-3, 195, Fr, Mission Hills HS

Running Back

4 -- Leilyon Myers, 6-0, 205, Fr, Lynwood HS

28 -- Donnell Fulford, 5-10, 220, So., Temecula Chaparral HS

ALSO: 30 -- Diondre Grigsby, 5-10, 205, So, San Pasqual Academy; 22 -- Andrew Frasier, 6-0, 205, Fr, Napa Valley HS; 33 -- Marquis Leauma, 5-10, 222, Fr. Mission Hills HS

Wide Receivers

1 -- Tobias Shanks, 6-3, 200, So, Port Gibson HS (Port Gibson, Miss.) / San Diego St.

85 -- Stephan Towns, 6-2, 190, So, Southwest HS

ALSO: 2 -- John Melton, 6-0, 182, Fr., Clewiston HS (Clewiston, FL;); 80 -- Maurice Patterson (6-3, 190, Fr, Oceanside HS


81-- Richie Martin, 6-0, 185, So, Yerba Buena HS (San Jose)

Tight End

35-- Keena Kumba, 6-1, 225, Fr, El Camino HS

ALSO: 89 -- Sean Jardin, 6-4, 255, Fr, Rancho Buena Vista HS


76 -- Brandon Hribar, 6-4, 280, So, La Costa Canyons HS

74 -- Jack Dill, 6-4, 280, So, San Pasqual HS


62 -- Vincent Murrow, 6-3, 315, Fr, San Pasqual HS

63 -- Anthony Kelly, 6-2,  310, Fr, Escondido HS

ALSO: Justin Klingerman, 6-4, 315, Fr, Valley Center HS


68 -- Vic Aquilina, 6-1, 280, So, Carlsbad HS

ALSO 57 -- Michael Tuimavave, 5-11, 340, Fr, Rancho Buena Vista HS


19 -- Joe Carithers, 5-10, 195, Fr, Dadula HS (Dacula, GA) / University of Cincinnati


17 -- Gerardo Cortez, 5-10, 195, Fr, El Camino HS



97 -- Mao Lefiti, 6-5, 220, So, Castle HS (Koneoha, HI)

96 -- Braxton Brennan, 6-3, 240, Fr, Elsinore HS

ALSO: 94 -- Caleb Evans, 6-4, 220, Fr, Helena HS (Helena, Montana); 58 -- Geraldo Powell, 6-1, 220, So., Friendship Edison H.S. (Washington D.C.) ; 95 -- Andrew Sugg, 6-4, 215, Fr, Temecula Chaparral HS


51 -- Tim Asaivao, 6-2, 245, So. Vista HS

90 -- Simon Malo, 5-11, 280, So, El Camino HS;

ALSO: 98 -- Jonathan Mitchell, 6-2, 300, Fr, Escondido HS; 61 -- Scotty Linney, 6-1, 280, Fr, Elsinore HS; 99 -- Marcus Williamson, 6-1, 245, Fr, Oceanside HS

Middle Linebacker

36 -- Mike Bethea, 6-3, 240, So,  La Costa Canyon HS

ALSO: 54 -- David Motu, 6-0, 225, Fr, Oceanside HS

Outside Linebackers

41 -- Bubba Pugh, 6-2, 210, Fr, Rancho Buena Vista HS

44 -- Lawrence Hunt, 5-9, 205, So, Vista HS

ALSO: 45 -- Shane Melbo, 6-1. 205, Fr, San Pasqual HS;  11 -- Nate Paopao, 6-1, 220, Fr, El Camino HS


7 -- Michael Wright, 5-10, 175, So, Vista HS / Montana State

18 -- Michael Allen, 6-0, 180, Fr, San Marcos HS

ALSO: 21 -- Nick Walker, 5-9, 165, Fr, Vista HS; 24 -- Chris Calvert, 5-11, 170, Fr, Rancho Buena Vista HS; 6 -- Chauncey Duriso, 5-11, 185,  So, Oceanside HS


10 -- Loa Madon, 5-9, 200, Fr., Vista HS

13 -- Breyan McQueen, 6-0, 185, So, Camden Military Academy (Camden, SC)

ALSO: 5 -- David Batts, 6-2, 195, Fr., Lynwood HS13 -- Breyan McQueen, 6-0, 185, So, Camden Military Academy (Camden, SC); 31 -- Patrick Young,  6-1,  186, Fr, Helix HS / University of Montana


Middle linebacker Mike Bethea, shown about to level Golden West's Everett Mason, is one of five players from nationally 25th-ranked Palomar on the All-Mission Conference American Division first team. (Photo by Rick Rowell) ORDER  PHOTOS (password: cometball)

5 Palomar players make first team;

bowl game kickoff moved to 4 p.m.


Five players from Palomar, which moved back into the J.C. Grid-Wire national rankings in the 25th spot this week, were named to the All-Mission Conference American Division first team in voting among conference  football coaches Tuesday.

Also Tuesday, Palomar Director of Athletics Scott Cathcart announced that kickoff for Saturday's Southern California Bowl game between the Comets and Ventura at Escondido High School's Wilson Stadium has been moved to 4 p.m. to accommodate the Pirates, who are making a 175-mile trip south. The game originally was slated for 1 p.m.

Palomar's All-American Division first-team selections were sophomore running back Leilyon Myers, middle linebacker Mike Bethea, defensive end Mao Lefiti, cornerback Michael Wright and punt returner Kyle Hill.

Selected to the second team from Palomar: Quarterback Hunter Wanket, running back Donnell Fulford, receiver Tobias Shanks, center Vic Aquilina, guard Anthony Kelly, kicker Joe Carithers, defensive tackle Simon Malo and safety David Betts. Hill also made the all-conference second-team offensive unit as an all-purpose player.

The following Comets received honorable mention recognition: inebacker Bubba Pugh, linebacker Lawrence Hunt, defensive end Caleb Evans, safety Breyan McQueen, offensive tackle Brandon Hribar, offensive tackle Jack Dill, linebacker Willie Walters and defensive tackle Tim Asaivao.

Defensive end Geraldo Powell sacks Golden West quarterback Les Obie. No. 94 is Caleb Evans. (Photo by Rick Rowell) ORDER  PHOTOS (password: cometball)

Comets host Ventura on Saturday

in Southern California Bowl game


The Palomar football squad will host Ventura in the Southern California Bowl this upcoming Saturday, Nov. 17, at Escondido High School's Wilson Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m.

The Comets (7-2, tied for second in the Mission Conference American Division) were voted the No. 9 in Southern California at the California at the California Community College Athletic Association seeding meeting in Sacramento, missing a berth in the state community college playoffs by one spot. The top eight seeds from Southern California advance to the playoffs.

Ventura (7-3, co-champion of the Western State Conference Pacific Division, was seeded No. 11 in Southern California.

The Palomar-Ventura match-up makes this a belated rematch of the 1989 Hall of Fame Bowl at Balboa Stadium, the Comets' first-ever post-season football appearance. The Comets defeated the Pirates in that game 21-20 on a late field goal.

Palomar offensive coordinator Dan Early and Torrey Pines High school head coach Scott Ashby were teammates on that Palomar squad.

ABOVE: Damon De Luca runs 57 yards on a fake punt. BELOW LEFT: Richie Martin crosses the goal line on a 45-yard catch-and-run play from Joey Erickson. (Photos by Rick Rowell) ORDER  PHOTOS (password: cometball)

Erickson throws four TD passes

and Comets win a wild one 52-49


Freshman Joey Erickson, making his first start since replacing the injured Hunter Wanket as Palomar's quarterback shortly before halftime the previous week, made it a memorable one Saturday afternoon. His performance may have helped catapult the Comets into the post-season.

Erickson connected on 12 of 23 pass attempts for 191 yards and four touchdowns -- and finished with 205 yards total offense. That, and Leilyon Myers' 103 yards and two touchdowns rushing on 28 carries, helped lead the Comets to a wild 52-49 victory over Golden West in the teams' regular-season finale at Escondido's Wilson Stadium.

Palomar finishes the regular season 7-2 (3-1 in Mission Conference and awaits a possible playoff or bowl berth when post-season pairings are announced at mid-day Sunday. Golden West finishes 2-7, 0-4.

Erickson -- who threw a pair of TD passes to Tobias Shanks (six receptions for 95 yards) -- has thrown for 402 yards and five touchdowns in just over six quarters since stepping in when Wanket fractured his collarbone at Fullerton. This, after seeing limited action in three of the Comets' first seven games.

"That's where my teammates come in," Erickson said. "I got good (pass) protection. My receivers did a good job. My teammates have picked me up and supported me since I got thrown into the mix."

Middle linebacker Mike Bethea (12 tackles, 10 solo, two tackles for losses), defensive end Caleb Evans (five tackles, two sacks, three tackles for losses) and outside linebacker Bubba Pugh (nine tackles, four solo, one tackle for loss, one blocked punts) had big-play days on defense.

Damon De Luca set up Palomar's first TD by running 57 yards to the Golden West 33 on a fake punt.

The Comets scored on a 33-yard pass play from Erickson to Shanks, a 15-yard run by Myers, a 6-run run by Marquis Leauma, a 9-yard pass from Erickson to Shanks, a 15-yard pass from Erickson to Diondre Grigsby, a 45-yard pass play from Erickson to Richie Martin, an 18-yar run by Myers, a 40-yard field goal by Carithers -- and a 7-for-7 performance on PAT's by Carithers.

Martin juked and eluded a series of defenders as he raced into the end zone after catching Erickson's pass early in the fourth quarter.

The teams battled back and fourth with the Rustlers leading 14-7 after one quarter, the Comets on top 21-14 at halftime, the Rustlers going back in front 35-28 after three quarters. Palomar outscored Golden West 24-14 in the fourth quarter -- and led by as many as 14 points at 49-35.

"Every time we made a big play, it seemed like they answered back," Erickson said.


Corner Michael Wright (7) and safety Breyan McQueen (13), shown against Fullerton, could play key roles against Golden West on Saturday. (Photo by Michael Sackett). -- ORDER  PHOTOS from Palomar-Fullerton game

Palomar needs win on Saturday

to advance to the post-season


Palomar faces a "must win" situation in football Saturday when the Comets host Golden West (1 p.m. kickoff, Wilson Stadium, Escondido High School) to close out the regular season.

The Comets come in 6-2 on the year, 2-1 in the Mission Conference American Division and need a victory to have any chance of advancing to the state community college playoffs -- and probably even to advance to a bowl game.

The Rustlers are 2-6 and 0-3.

A Palomar victory, coupled with an El Camino win over Fullerton  and a Saddleback win over Mt. SAC, could catapult the Comets into the Southern California portion of the playoffs, which begin Nov. 17. Bowl games will be played the same day.

"If we want to continue to play, we have to win," coach Joe Early said. "It's pretty simple. And we will have to play well if we want to win. Golden West has improved every week, and have been with teams into the second half, but doesn't have great depth and that has cost them. They have good players, and they're tough. We've got our work cut out for us."

Joey Erickson will get his first start at quarterback after coming in to replace Hunter Wanket, who suffered a season-ending fractured collarbone late in the first half, last week against Fullerton. Erickson passed for 211 yards and a touchdown in that game in barely over one half.

CLICK HERE to view feature story frm Friday's the North County Times on former Palomar All-American and current University of Connecticut starting quarterback Tyler Lorenzen

ORDER  PHOTOS from Palomar-Fullerton game

Comets lose Wanket and game,

but Erickson (211 yds.) steps up


Palomar lost quarterback Hunter Wanket for the season with a fractured collarbone late in the first half of Saturday's Mission Conference American Division game against Fullerton at Fullerton High School.

The Hornets (6-2, 2-1) went on to shock the nationally 18th-ranked Comets 47-17.

But, on what was a frustrating return to action after wildfires and bad air quality cost them an entire week of practice, three big bright spots emerged in the game for the Comets:

  • Most notably, previously little-used freshman quarterback Joey Erickson, who now steps in for Wanket as the Comets' starter -- came on late in the second quarter and passed for 211 yards the rest of the way, including a 46-yard touchdown to Tobias Shanks the rest of the way.

  • Shanks had seven receptions for 171 yards

  • Freshman running back Leilyon Myers rushed for 110 yards and a 1-yard TD on 12 carries. He had 14 additional yards on a pair of receptions.

The Erickson-led Comets came close to getting back in the game in the fourth quarter, but two of Erickson's passes into the end zone to Shanks were caught barely out of bounds.

And Erickson threw an interception in the end zone after driving Palomar to the Fullerton 7-yard line.

"I'm real proud of our team the way they fought back and I'm extremely proud of Joey Erickson," coach Joe Early said.

Palomar took a 3-0 lead on Joe Carrithers' 25-yard field goal with 9:27 left in the first quarter.

That came after a 56-yard completion from Wanket to Shanks gave the Comets a first down at the Fullerton 12 and Myers' apparent 4-yard touchdown run two plays later was nullified by a holding penalty.

Also for Palomar, Gerardo Cortez placed a punt out of bounds at the Fullerton 1-yard line.

Leading the Comets defensively: middle linebacker Mike Bethea (seven tackles, one tackle for loss), linebacker Lawrence Hunt (seven tackles, one tackle for loss), safety Loa Madon (seven tackles) and defensive end Braxton Brennan (five tackles, one sack, two tackles for losses).

Palomar, still bidding for a state playoff berth, will close its regular season next Saturday against Golden West at Escondido's Wilson Stadium at 1 p.m.












Diondre Grigsby, running for yards in 44-7 win over Long Beach City College, is one of four outstanding running backs for the Comets. (Photo by Rick Rowell) -- ORDER PHOTOS (password: cometball)

Comets return to the field Saturday

to take on Fullerton on the road


Nationally 18th-ranked Palomar will return to action for the first time since Oct. 20 on Saturday, facing Fullerton College in a 1 p.m.  Mission Conference American Division match-up at Fullerton High School.

The Comets, who are also ranked No. 7 in the state and No. 4 in Southern California by the California Community College Football Coaches Association, come into the game 6-1 on the season and 2-0 in the Mission American Division. The Hornets, who are ranked 16th in the state and eighth in Southern Cal, are 5-2 and 1-1.

All six Mission Conference games a week ago were cancelled due to the Southern California wildfires and poor air quality.

"It's good to get back on the field after missing last week. Our kids are excited and ready to play and I'm sure Fullerton feels the same way," coach Joe Early said.

"Fullerton had a lot of trick plays, especially on special teams, which forces you to think outside the box. You can't prepare for everything they might do, but you have to be alert on every play, because deception is such a big part of what they're about."

The game, Early said, "has playoff implications for the winner and probably bowl implications for the loser. It's a huge game."

Leilyon Myers (560 yards, seven touchdowns on 87 carries) goes into the game as Palomar's leading rusher. He's also caught five passes for an additional 109 yards and another TD. Donnell Fulford, Diondre Grigsby and Andrew Frasier give Palomar a three-pronged running attack behind a line anchored by center Vic Aquilina.

Quarterback Hunter Wanket has passed for 1,433 yards and 14touchdowns and has tackled on 136 yards and an additional TD rushing.

Tobias Shanks is the Comets' leading receiver with 31 catches for 508 yards and seven touchdowns.

Middle linebacker Mike Bethea (46 tackles, seven tackles for losses, one interception, one fumble recovery, who was a pre-season first team J.C. Grid-Wire All-American, leads Palomar's defense.

Palomar is tied with nationally third-ranked El Camino College for the American Division lead. Their match-up with the Warriors was cancelled last week and will not be made up. The Comets will close the regular season a week from Saturday against Golden West at Escondido's Wilson Stadium.

Quarterback Hunter Wanket, receiver Maurice Patterson (80) and the Palomar football team will finish what will now be a nine-game regular-season schedule with games at Fullerton on Saturday and against Golden West at Escondido's Wilson Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 10. (Photo by Rick Rowell) -- ORDER PHOTOS (password: cometball)

Comets, El Camino, other affected

teams will not make up games


California Community College Athletic Association Executive Director Carlyle Carter ruled late Tuesday afternoon that there will be no make-ups of the six Mission Conference football games or other Southern California games that were not played because of fire, and air quality conditions on Saturday, Oct. 28.

That means the scheduled Palomar at El Camino game will not be made up, and the Comets will be among teams playing nine-game regular-season schedules.

Champions of the Mission Conference American and National Divisions, Western State Conference North and South Divisions and Foothill Conference -- plus three at-large teams -- will be seeded into the eight-team Southern California playoffs that begin Nov.  17. The state championship game is Dec. 8 in Fresno.

Palomar resumed practice Monday after being unable to practice since Oct. 19. The Comets will return to action this upcoming Saturday, Nov. 3, vs. Fullerton at 1 p.m. at Fullerton High School.

Defensive end Andrew Sugg (95, about ready to level Long Beach City College's Gabriel Thomas) and his Palomar teammates are ranked 18th in the nation. (Photos by Rick Rowell) -- ORDER PHOTOS (password: cometball)

Comets ranked No. 18 in nation,

7th in state and 4th in Southern Cal


Palomar has moved to No. 18 in the J.C. Grid-Wire national community college football rankings.

The Comets, who will play Fullerton on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Fullerton High School, also are ranked No. 7 in the state and No. 4 in Southern California, both by the California Community College Football Coaches Association.

In the Grid-Wire rankings, Mississippi Gulf Coast in No. 1 in the nation, Snow (Utah) is No. 2, Bakersfield No. 3, Butler (Kansas) No. 4, City College of San Francisco No. 5, El Camino No. 6, Saddleback No. 7, Santa Rosa No. 8, Eastern Arizona No. 9 and Sierra No. 10.

College of the Canyons is No. 11, Foothill No. 12, Fresno City College No. 13, Jones County (Mississippi) No. 14, Fort Scott (Kansas) No. 15, Kilgore (Texas) No. 16, Blinn (Texas) No. 17, the Comets No. 18, Pasadena City College No. 19 and Antelope Valley No. 20.

In the state poll, Bakersfield is No. 1, El Camino No. 2, San Francisco No. 3,Saddleback No. 4, Santa Rosa No. 5, Sierra No. 6, Palomar No. 7, Foothill No. 8, Fresno No. 9 and Antelope Valley and Canyons tied for No. 10. Fullerton is ranked 16th.

In the Southern California poll, Bakersfield is No. 1, El Camino No. 2, Saddleback No. 3,Palomar No. 4, Canyons No. 5, Antelope Valley No. 6, Mt. SAC No. 7, Fullerton No. 8, College of the Desert No.  9 and Pasadena No. 10.

Former Palomar All-American Tyler Lorenzen runs away from South Florida defender. 

Lorenzen, UConn beat So. Fla.,

jump 10 spots to No. 13 in BCS


2006 Palomar J.C. Grid-Wire first-team All-American Tyler Lorenzen was 13-for-25 passing for 194 yards and a touchdown Saturday as the University of Connecticut beat BCS 10th-ranked South Florida 22-15 in the rain at East Hartford , CT.

With the win, the Huskies advanced to 7-1, remained the only unbeaten team in Big East play at 3-0 -- and jumped 10 spots in the BCS rankings from their No. 23 spot of a week ago.

West Virginia is 2-1 in the Big East and every other Big East team has at least two conference losses. On the season, Lorenzen and UConn are only one point away from being undefeated.

UConn coach coach Randy Edsall, who has coached 21 seasons in major college football and spent three years as an assistant with the Jacksonville Jaguars,  had the following to say about Lorenzen, the Bristol (CT) Press reported:

"I've been around some pretty good quarterbacks and seen some pretty good quarterbacks and gone against pretty good quarterbacks in college and also the NFL. But I don't know if I've been around a guy who has the intangibles and qualities outside of the physical abilities that Tyler has. I mean, you can't describe it. Some people have it ... they just have it. It's not about how you look getting something done in the game of football. It's still about productivity. And our team always sees a guy who never gets flustered, who has a tremendous amount of confidence and poise in his ability, and they feed off of it."

The same way Palomar's team fed off the presence of Lorenzen, the 2006 national community college total offense leader and California Offensive Player of the Year. Said Comet coach Joe Early, who played at Palomar and was an assistant during the Comets' national championship seasons of 1991, 1993 and 1997:

"I don't think we have ever had a player -- or a person -- like Tyler Lorenzen at Palomar. I don't know if we ever will again."

When Lorenzen took a knee to end the game, many from  the 40,000-fan sellout crowd jumped out of the seats onto the playing surface at Rentschler Field, joining the players and creating a sea of people on the field.

UConn, which made the transition from Division I-AA to I-A just seven years ago, moved to 16th in the Associated Press poll on Sunday.

Comets ranked 25th in nation;

Wanket is Mission Player of Week


Palomar has resurfaced in the J.C. Grid-Wire national football rankings in the 25th spot.

Also, Comet quarterback Hunter Wanket has been named Mission Conference Offensive Player of the Week.

Wanket (left, Photo by Rick Rowell) was nearly perfect in Palomar's 44-7 win over Long Beach City College on Saturday, Oct. 20.

He threw for 257 yards on 24-for-27 passing with four touchdowns and no interceptions. He tossed three of those TD passes to Tobias Shanks (5, 14 and 26 yards) and added a 41-yard TD to Maurice Patterson. Wanket also ran for 42 yards.

In the Grid-Wire national rankings, Palomar (6-1) is tied with Iowa Central for No. 25.

No. 1 Mississippi Gulf Coast, No. 2 Bakersfield, No. 3 Snow (Utah), No. 4 Butler (Kansas), No. 5 Foothill, No. 6 El Camino, No. 7 Fresno City College, No. 8 Saddleback, No. 9 Blinn (Texas) and No. 10 City College of San Francisco are ranked in the Top Ten.

Wanket, a sophomore from Torrey Pines High School, also has been named Pacific Coast Conference Men's Athlete of the Week for all sports.

It isn't necessary for an athlete to compete in a PCC sport to be honored by the conference.

ABOVE LEFT: Stephan Towns catches 7-yard pass from Hunter Wanket over Long Beach defender.  ABOVE RIGHT: Defensive end Caleb Evans -- who had five tackles, a sack, two tackles for losses and a quarterback hurry -- beats LBCC blockers and runs free. BELOW RIGHT: Tobias Shanks catches pass from Wanket. Play went for one of Shanks' three touchdowns. BELOW LEFT: Maurice Patterson hauls in Wanket pass. Play went for 41-yard touchdown with 9:57 left in the game. (Photos by Rick Rowell)

Wanket (24-for-27, 257 yds., 4 TDs)

and Comets top Long Beach 44-7


Quarterback Hunter Wanket (24-for-27 passing, 257 yards, four touchdowns, no interceptions) threw three TD passes to Tobias Shanks on Saturday as Palomar blitzed Long Beach City College 44-7 at Escondido's Wilson Stadium.

Behind Wanket's spectacular performance (his .889 completion percentage is believed to be a Palomar record), the Comets advanced to 6-1 on the season, 2-0 in the Mission Conference American Division.

Wanket was playing healthy for the first time since he sustained multiple injuries in an early-season victory over Mt. SAC.

Shanks had eight receptions for 84 yards for the afternoon.

The Comets, ranked No. 9 in the state and No. 4 in Southern California by the California Community College Football Coaches Association, also got big performances from Kyle Hill (121 total offense yards) and a defense that was led by outside linebacker Bubba Pugh (seven tackles, one quarterback hurry), end Caleb Evans (five tackles, one sack, three tackles for losses) and middle linebacker Mike Bethea (five tackles, two for losses).

Palomar outgained Long Beach 437 yards total offense to 173.

The Comets took a 14-0 halftime lead on the Vikings (1-6, 0-2) on Marquis Leauma’s 2-yard touchdown run  and Wanket’s 5-yard touchdown pass to Shanks. They tacked on 30 second-half points on TD passes of 14 and 26 yards from Wanket to Shanks, a 41-yard TD pass from Wanket to Maurice Patterson, Joe Carithers’ 41-yard field goal and Geraldo Powell’s 33-yard interception return.

Palomar will visit nationally No. 7-ranked El Camino, which also is 6-1, 2-0 in the American Division, next Saturday evening in Torrance.


Lorenzen drives UConn to winning

TD vs. Louisville with 1:32 to play


Palomar transfer quarterback Tyler Lorenzen drove Connecticut to the winning touchdown with 1:32 to play Friday night, keeping the Huskies alone atop the Big East with a 21-17 win over Louisville at East Hartford, CT.

Lorenzen had 186 of UConn's 305 yards in total offense in a nationally-televised game played in a driving rainstorm and 20 mph winds.

Trailing 17-7, the Huskies cut the Cardinals' lead to 17-14 with 10:02 left in the game as Lorenzen passed 36 yards to Andre Dixon for a first down at the 14, ran the ball 7 yards down  to the 7-yard line then threw a TD pass to Brad Karuch.

On the winning drive, Lorenzen completed three key passes and also ran for a first down.

Tim Asaivao (51), a sophomore tackle from Vistal High School, and the rest of Palomar's defense came up big in last week's victory over Orange Coast. (Photo by Rick Rowell) -- ORDER PHOTOS (password: cometball)

Comets host Vikings on Saturday,

shoot for 6-1 for '07, 2-0 in division


Coming off a physical 22-10 victory over Orange Coast, the Palomar football team will host Long Beach City College on Saturday (1 p.m. kickoff, Wilson Stadium in Escondido).

The Comets try to go 6-1on the season, 2-0 in the Mission Conference American Division.

Palomar comes into the game ranked No. 9 in the state and No. 4 in Southern California by the California Community College Football Coaches Association.

The Comets will be hosting a Long Beach team that is 1-5 on the season, 0-1 in the division and coming off a 37-14 loss to an El Camino squad that is ranked No.7 in the nation by the J.C. Grid-Wire, No. 5 in California and No. 2 in Southern California.

If the visiting Vikings are one thing, Palomar coach Joe Early said, they are dangerous.

"Long Beach has the speed, quickness and skill players to turn negative plays into big plays on offense and they fly around on defense. We will have to play well to win.

"We're coming off a good win over Orange Coast, and we want to keep our momentum going."

Running back Leilyon Myers, healthy for the first time in four games, rushed for 109 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries and the Comets' defense and special teams both came up big in the victory over Orange Coast.

TOP: Defensive tackle Braxton Brennan tackles Orange Coast quarterback Sean Hakes, who was trying to escape Palomar defenders on a broken play Saturday. No. 45 is Shane Melbo. BELOW LEFT: John "Goo" Roberson's momentum carries him out of bounds just short of the goal line on 27-yard pass play from Hunter Wanket. John Roberson's catch set up former Lynwood High teammate Leilyon Myers' 3-yard touchdown two plays later. BELOW RIGHT: Diondre Grisby breaks loose on 54-yard run that helped set up Palomar's final TD in the fourth quarter.. (Photos by Rick Rowell)

Myers rushes for 109 yards; Pugh's

safety jumpstarts Comets in victory


Leilyon Myers, healthy for the first time in four games, rushed for 109 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries and Palomar's defense and special teams dominated as the Comets punched out Orange Coast 22-10 on Saturday.

The Comets advanced to 5-1 on the season and opened defense of their Mission Conference American Division championship with the victory in a physical game on a muddy field at Wilson Stadium in Escondido.

The Comets fell behind the Pirates 3-0 after one quarter – then scored 22 unanswered points to lead 22-3 on a Bubba Pugh safety, Myers’ 3-yard touchdown run, two Joe Carithers field goals (for 37 and 39 yards), a 6-yard TD pass from Hunter Wanket to Tobias Shanks and two Carithers extra points.

Palomar had the ball at the Orange Coast 6-yard line when Wanket took a knee on back-to-back plays to run out the clock.

Linebacker Mike Bethea (eight tackles, one tackle for loss), safety Loa Madon (seven tackles, five solo), linebacker Willie Watters (five tackles, one tackle for loss) and linebacker Pugh (safety, two tackles for losses, 1 sacks) led a dominating defensive effort for the Comets. Corner David Batts intercepted a pass.

Kyle Hill had eight receptions for 49 yards, returned two punts 48 yards and tacked on an 8-yard run on a play on which he lined up at quarterback.

John Roberson's momentum took him out of bounds at the 3-yard line on 27-yard pass play from Wanket that preceded Palomar's first touchdown, which gave the Comets a 9-3 lead with 51 seconds remaining in the opening half.. Myers scored on his 3-yard run two plays later.

Diondre Grigsby broke off a 54-yard run to set up Wanke's TD pass to Shanks -- which culminated a 12-play, 90-yard drive that stretched the Comets' lead to 19 points with 3:10 left in the game.

Andrew Frasier returned a kickoff  74 yards to the OCC 16-yard line.

Damon De Luca blocked a punt that Pugh recovered to set up Carithers' second field goal. De Luca also ran 30 yards on a fake punt for a first down at the Coast 12-yard line.


Quarterback Hunter Wanket, who had been playing hurt for half the season, had a bye week to heal and will help lead the Comets against Orange Coast on Saturday. (Photo by Rick Rowell) ORDER PHOTOS (enter password: cometball)

Comets open defense of division

title vs. Orange Coast at home


Palomar will open defense of the Mission Conference American Division football championship it shared with Mt. SAC last season when the Comets host Orange Coast on Saturday.

The division opener will be played at Escondido High School's Wilson Stadium at 5 p.m. Coach Joe Early's Comets bring a 4-1 record into the game. The Pirqtes come in 2-3.

"They're another physical team and they'll hit you," Early said. "I keep thinking back to the Mt. SAC (victory) and how much intensity we played with. That is the way we have to play Saturday."

Players who either missed the Pasadena City College game two weeks ago, when the Comets suffered their first loss of 2007, and others who went down during the game with injuries, will be back in action Saturday.

That includes quarterback Hunter Wanket, running backs Donnell Fulford, Leilyon Myers and Diondre Grigsby, center Vic Aquilina, middle linebacker Mike Bethea, defensive end Simon Malo and corner Nick Walker.

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ABOVE: Comets' John "Goo" Roberson breaks tackle after one of his three receptions. BELOW RIGHT: Linebacker David Motu recovers a Pasadena fumble. BELOW LEFT: Defensive end Geraldo Powell hauls down PCC's pre-season All-American quarterback,  David Pittman. (Photos by Rick Rowell) -- ORDER PHOTOS (enter password: cometball)

Injuries to key starters and PCC

too much for Comets in 1st loss


Nationally 15th-ranked Pasadena City College won a battle of football unbeatens from nationally ninth-ranked Palomar 54-14 Saturday in Pasadena.

First-team pre-season All-American quarterback David Pittman passed for 481 yards and six touchdowns for the Lancers (5-0) on an afternoon the Comets lost starting quarterback Hunter Wanket, running backs Donnell Fulford and and Leilyon Myers and middle linebacker Mike Bethea with injuries.

Palomar (4-1) already was missing center Vic Aquilina  running back Diondre Grigsby, defensive tackle Simon Malo and corner Nick Walker with injuries suffered earlier in the season, Wanket and Myers have been playing with injuries sustained in the Mt. SAC game, and the cumulative effect of the whole process caught up  with the Comets in a big way Saturday.

"Not to take anything away from Pasadena, but we're a M*A*S*H* unit right now," coach Joe Early said. We need our bye week next week to get people back,  get people healthy and make a run at the Mission Conference American Division that begins in two weeks.

"We could see these guys again in the playoffs. This was just one game."

Palomar, trailing 7-0 in the first quarter, took an 8-7 lead on Donnell Fulford's 1-yard touchdown run and Kyle Hill's two-point conversion run off a fake PAT kick.

Back-up quarterback Joey Erickson, who replaced Wanket in the third quarter, drove the Comets to their second TD, which came on a 17-yard run Andrew Frasier with 5:43 left in the game. Joe Carither's PAT kick was blocked.

Wanket tweaked his shoulder injury from the Mt. SAC game in practice this week and was unable to throw the ball properly in the two-plus quarters he played.

Fulford rushed for 79 yards on 17 carries before leaving the game with an ankle injury. Hill (four kickoff returns for 108 yards) John Roberson (three catches for 50 yards), Tobias Shanks (three catches for 31 yards), David Batts (nine tackles, five solo), Bethea (six tackles prior to his injury), Geraldo Powell (five tackles including a sack and two tackles for losses) and David Motu (fumble recovery) turned in credible performances for the Comets on a long afternoon.

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Palomar quarterback Hunter Wanket is among the most versatile quarterbacks in community collegefootball. No. 74 is starting tackle Jack Dill. (Photo by Rick Rowell) -- ORDER PHOTOS (enter password: cometball)

Comets, explosive Pasadena

match 4-0 records on Saturday


Nationally ninth-ranked Palomar and Pasadena City College will match 4-0 overall football records and 2-0 Mission Conference marks Saturday at 1 p.m. at PCC's Jackie Robinson Stadium.

And the Comets' defense will have its work cut out for it as the Comets and Lancers get their final cross-division tests leading up to their division openers in two weeks.

PCC is third in the state and nation in total offense, averaging 537.8 yards per game.

And Lancers quarterback David Pittman is the state and national total offense leader, averaging 395.0 yards per game.

Pre-season J.C. Grid-Wire All-American first-team middle linebacker Mike Bethea, coming off a very active game in last week's 34-17 road victory over Riverside Community College, will key the Comets' defensive effort.

Pasadena also leads the Mission Conference in total defense, giving up 249.8 yards per game.

Palomar, which has played a decidedly tougher schedule, is eighth in the state and nation in total offense, averaging an even 500.0 yards per game, 1.25 yards per game ahead of National Junior College Athletic Association (non-California teams) leader Blinn (Texas).

Blinn the defending Grid-Wire national champion, is averaging 498.5 yards per game.

Pasadena's David Reed leads the state and nation with 9.5 receptions per game. Palomar's Tobias Shanks is third in the state and nation with an average of 21.2 yards per reception.

Shawn Dearing advances ball to the Riverside Community College 20-yard line after catching pass in second quarter last Saturday in Comets' 34-17 road victory. Donnell Fulford scored on a 4-yard run four plays later, giving Palomar a 14-10 lead they would never relinquish. (Photo by Rick Rowell) -- ORDER PHOTOS (enter password: cometball)

Palomar remains 9th in nation,

7th in state, 3rd in Southern Cal


Palomar's remained ninth in the nation in the J.C.Grid-Wire rankings this week. The Comets also seventh in the state in the California Community College Football Coaches Association ratings -- and third in Southern California in two polls.

The Comets will match 4-0 records with Pasadena City College (ranked 15th in the nation, 11th in the state and fifth in Southern California) Saturday at 1 p.m. at Jackie Robinson Stadium on the PCC campus.

Bakersfield College is ranked No. 1 in the nation by the Grid-Wire, followed in the Top 10 by No. 2 Gulf Coast (Mississippi), No. 3 Butler (Kansas), No. 4 Santa Rosa, No. 5 El Camino, No. 6 Saddleback, No. 7 Jones (Mississippi), No. 8 Fresno City College, the No. 9 Comets and No. 10 Snow (Utah).

Foothill is ranked 11th, followed by No. 12 City College of San Francisco, no. 13 Eastern Arizona, No. 14 College of San Mateo, No. 15 Pasadena, No. 16 Laney, No. 17 Kilgore (Texas), No. 18 Blinn (Texas), No. 19 Pearl River (Mississippi), No. 20 Northeastern Oklahoma, No. 21 Reedley, No. 22 Mesa (Arizona), No. 23 Fullerton, No. 24 Lackawanna (Pennsylvania), and College of the Desert, College of DuPage (Illinois) and Cisco (Texas) tied for 25th.

In the state coaches' poll, Bakersfield is No. 1, Saddleback No. 2, Santa Rosa No. 3, Foothill No. 4, Fresno No. 5, San Mateo No. 56, the Comets No. 7, El Camino No. 8, San Francisco No. 9 and Laney No. 10.

Palomar is third in Southern California in back of Bakersfield and Saddleback in the California Community College Football Coaches Association and California Community College Athletic Association polls.

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ABOVE:..Middle linebacker Mike Bethea, who had a dominant game, tackles Riverside running back Marcus Clarke. Comets held Clarke, the Mission Conference's leading rusher, to 81 yards. BELOW RIGHT: Leilyon Myers dives into the endzone on his third touchdown of the evening.. (Phoros by Rick Rowell) -- ORDER PHOTOS (enter password: cometball)

Palomar goes to 4-0 by beating

RCC 34-17; Bethea comes up huge


Leilyon Myers ran for three touchdowns against Riverside Community College at Wheelock Stadium in Riverside on Saturday evening.

Donnell Fulford rushed for 100 yards and a TD on 19 carries, Hunter Wanket passed for 210 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 49 yards -- and pre-season All-American middle linebacker Mike Bethea came up with a spectacular defensive effort.

Their performances helped propel Palomar's football squad, ranked ninth in  the nation and seventh in the state, to a 34-17 victory over the Tigers, who are ranked 17th in the state.

The Comets (4-0) took a 7-0 lead 3 minutes, 39 seconds into the game on Myers' 2-yard touchdown run and Joe Carithers' PAT kick, which were set up by Bubba Pugh's recovery of a fumbled punt at the RCC 14-yard line.

They fell behind the Tigers 10-7, then outscored them 24-7 over the final 32 minutes, 15 seconds.

Palomar also tallied touchdowns on Fulford's 3-yard run with 2:15 left  in the first half, Myers'  2-yard run 1:22 into the second half that was set up by Bethea's interception of a tipped pass, a 26-yard pass from Wanket (18-for-25, one TD, no interceptions) to Maurice Patterson with 2:24 remaining in the third quarter and Myers' 1-yard run with 12:16 left in the game.

Myers' third touchdown culminated a 71-yard Palomar drive. Four plays before the touchdown, Carithers split the uprights on a 44-yard field goal but RCC was flagged with an offside penalty. The Comets accepted the penalty, picking up a first down -- taking the three points off the scoreboard.

Kyle Hill had five receptions for the Comets for 43 yards, Tobias Shanks four catches for 56 yards, Richie Martin three receptions for 22 yards and Patterson two catches for 39 yards and a touchdown.

Bethea was all over the field in the game, finishing the evening with nine tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery. Michael Wright had seven tackles, a broken-up pass and a quarterback hurry. Tim Asaivao and Brett Wininger each had five tackles.

Palomar and Pasadena City College, a 30-0 winner over Golden West on Saturday, will match 4-0 records next Saturday, Sept. 29, at 1 p.m. at PCC's Jackie Robinson Stadium.

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ABOVE:..Defensive tackle Simon Malo (90) and defensive end Caleb Evans (94) are among key players for the Comets. BELOW LEFT: Head coach Joe Early. (Phoros by Rick Rowell) -- ORDER PHOTOS (enter password: cometball)

Comets face another tough one

as they square off with Riverside


The road doesn't get any easier for the Palomar football team as the nationally ninth-ranked Comets hit the I-15 north Saturday for a 5 p.m. meeting with Riverside Community College.

The Mission Conference cross-division game kicks off at 5 p.m. at Wheelock Stadium on the RCC campus.

The Comets, who are ranked No. 7 in the state and No. 3 in Southern California, will come into the game with a 3-0 overall record and a 1-0 conference mark. The Tigers are 2-1 on the season and ranked 17th in the state and eighth in Southern California.

"This is the third week in a row we'll play somebody who are ranked nationally or have been ranked nationally this season," Palomar coach Joe Early said.

"(Riverside) is always physical and they play well at home."

The Comets are coming off a 31-23 victory last week over Mt. SAC, which at the time was ranked No. 9 in the nation and is now rated 16th. The Tigers suffered their first loss 38-14 to the nation's fifth-ranked team, El Camino.

Saturday's game will match the top two rushers in the Mission Conference in Riverside's Jamaal Scott (118.0 yards per game, two touchdowns) and Palomar's Leilyon Myers (109.0 yards per game, three touchdowns).

It will be the second straight week the Comets will face a former-Palomar father and son combination. RCC running backs coach Binky Benton was Palomar's running backs coach in 2000 and 2001. His son, Tigers safety Britton Benton, is a former Palomar ball boy.

TOP: Comets' Bubba Pugh, Michael Allen (18) and Kevin Rojas (38) gang tackle Mt. SAC's Lancer Iosefa in Saturday's game. BELOW LEFT: Simon Malo delivers hit on Mt. SAC quarterback Kevin Craft, knocking the ball loose. Andrew Sugg recovered the fumble in the end zone for Palomar's second touchdown. (Photos by Hugh Cox)

Comets climb to ninth in USA,

seventh in state, third in SoCal


Palomar climbed into the Top Ten in the J.C. Grid-Wire national community college football rankings on Monday after Saturday's 31-23 victory over Mt. SAC.

The Comets moved into the No. 9 spot.


In the California Community College Football Coaches Association poll, Palomar advanced to No. 7 in the state rankings and No. 3 in Southern California.

Bakersfield still is ranked No.1 in the nation, followed in the Top Ten by No. 2 Butler (Kansas), No. 3 Santa Rosa, No. 4 Saddleback, No. 5 El Camino, No. 6 Fresno City College, No. 7 Gulf Coast (Mississippi), No. 8 Jones (Mississippi), the No. 9 Comets and No. 10 Snow (Utah)>

Foothill is ranked 11th, City College of San Francisco 12th, Fullerton 13th, Blinn (Texas) 14th, Eastern Arizona 15th, Mt. SAC 16th, College of San Mateo 17th, Pearl River (Mississippi) 18th, Citrus 19th and Pasadena City College 20th.

No. 21 Laney, No. 22 Northeastern Oklahoma, No. 23 Kilgore (Texas), no. 24 Mesa (Arizona) and No. 25 Itawamba (Mississippi) round out the top 25.

In the Coaches Association's state poll, Bakersfield is No. 1, followed by No. 2 Saddleback, No. 3 Santa Rosa, No. 4 Foothill, No. 5 Fresno, No. 6 San Mateo,  the No. 7 Comets, No. 8 El Camino, No. 9 San Francisco and No. 10 Fullerton. In the Southern California rankings, Bakersfield and Saddleback are 1-2, followed by the third-ranked Comets. El Camino is fourth, Fullerton fifth,  Pasadena City College sixth, Mt. SAC seventh, Riverside Community College eighth Citrus ninth and Moorpark 10th.

Palomar (3-0) will go back on the road to play Riverside, which along being ranked No. 8 in Southern California is No. 17 in the state, on Saturday at 5 p.m. at Wheelock Stadium on the RCC campus.

Coach Joe Early's squad will  be seeking its seventh straight regular-season victory.

TOP: Andrew Sugg recovers fumble for first-quarter touchdown that gave Palomar a 14-9 lead. Simon Malo caused the fumble with a hit on Mt. SAC quarerback Kevin Craft. (Photo by Hugh Cox) MIDDLE: Kyle Hill is brought down by Mt. SAC's Michael Castaneda after 10-yard kickoff return in first quarter. Hill had two returns for 40 yards as Mounties kicked away from him most of the day. (Photo by Hugh Cox). BELOW LEFT: Breyan McQueen (13) hauls down Mt. SAC receiver. (Photo by Ernie Anderson) BELOW RIGHT: Patrick Young comes oh-so-close to intercepting Craft. (Photo by Ernie Anderson)

Defense steps up and Comets

stun Mt. SAC 31-23, move to 3-0


Palomar's offense came out firing on all cylinders, the defense stepped up huge and the Comets rocked nationally ninth-ranked Mt. SAC 31-23 Saturday at Escondido's Wilson Stadium to advance to 3-0 on the season.

The 11th-ranked Comets jumped out to a 28-9 lead in the second quarter and its defense kept Mt. SAC quarterback Kevin Craft on the run all afternoon before Craft left the game with heat stroke early in the second half.

Led by safety Loa Madon (eight tackles, five solo, two tackles for losses, one fumble recovery, one broken up pass), safety Michael Allen, end Gerardo Powell, middle linebacker Mike Bethea and tackle Mark Williamson, the defense controlled the game the rest of the way.

Allen had seven tackles and broke up three passes. Powell had six tackles, two sacks and two tackles for losses. Bethea had five tackles, half a sack and two tackles for losses. Williamson had four tackles, three for losses totaling 15 yards and forced a fumble.

Safety Breyan McQueen had an interception and broke up two passes. End Andrew Sugg recovered a fumble for a touchdown after Simon Malo knocked the ball loose from Craft.

Palomar's offense was plenty effective while the game was still on the line. Quarterback Hunter Wanket threw for 226 yards and three touchdowns before the Comets went to a running attack in the second half. Tobias Shanks caught five passes for 114 yards and a touchdown. Leilyon Myers rushed for 61 yards and caught a pass for 48 yards.

Craft, a former Palomar ball boy and son of Mt. SAC offensive coordinator and ex-Comet and San Diego State head coach Tom Craft, threw for 242 yards and two touchdowns before leaving the game but was sacked four times.

The younger Craft was taken to Palomar Medical Center where he was treated for heat stroke, dehydration and severe cramps and was expected to be released Saturday night or Sunday morning.

Palomar scored its touchdowns on a 48-yard Wanket-to-Myers pass play, a fumble recovery in the end zone by Sugg, a 57-yard pass from Wanket to Shanks and a 12-yard pass from Wanket to Kyle Hill. Joe Carithers added a 40-yard field goal.

Mt. SAC, trailing 31-16 late, scored the game's final points on a 3-yard blocked punt return with 1:58 to play to close to the final eight-point margin.



ABOVE: Quarterback Hunter Wanket (No. 8) runs the show in 56-42 rout of Grossmont. (Photo by Hugh Cox).  ... BELOW LEFT: Stephan Towns (four receptions, 71 yards) sets up a score on 41-yard reception. (Phoro by Rick Rowell)

Air Craft will land Saturday as

No. 11 Comets host No. 9 MSAC


Two of the country's most potent community college football offenses -- and two of the nation's best teams -- will square off Saturday when Palomar, ranked No. 11 in the nation by the J.C. Grid-Wire, hosts No. 9 Mt. SAC.

Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. at Escondido High School's Wilson Stadium.

Both teams enter the game 2-0.

The Mounties come to town averaging 522.0 yards per game in total offense and are coming off back-to-back routs of Victor Valley 62-17 and Mt. San Jacinto 70-9 last weekend.

The Comets are averaging 608 yards a game and have defeated San Bernardino Valley 34-14 and Grossmont 56-42.

Palomar rushed for a school record 471 yards against the Griffins, led by Leilyon Myers (227 yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries) and Donnell Fulford (120 yards and one touchdown on 20 carries), running behind an inexperienced but improving offensive line anchored by sophomore center Vic Aqulina.

"This could be another Arena League similar to last week," Palomar coach Joe Early said. "When you have two offenses that can move the ball and put points on the board like these two teams, it puts a lot of stress on the defenses."

The game marks the return of Mt. SAC offensive coordinator Tom Craft, who guided Palomar to three national championships and a 115-56-1 record in16 seasons an is the ex-head coach at San Diego State.

And it will feature a match-up of two of the premier quarterbacks in community college football, the Comets' Hunter Wanket  and the Mounties' Kevin Craft.

This match-up has been a lifetime in the making for Kevin Craft, the state's leading passer (804 yards and 10 touchdowns in two games), Tom Craft's son and a one-time Palomar ball boy.

The pressure will be on a Palomar defense that is led by pre-season first-team J.C. Grid-Wire All-American middle linebacker Mike Bethea.

Wanket is both a passing and running threat and is averaging 327.5 yards in total offense.

"(The return of the Craft family) is good for interest in the game," Early said. "There's a lot of history between us and Tom Craft. But the bottom line is that we're just trying to win a football game. So are they."

Early is among a majority of Comet coaches who either played for Craft at Palomar, were hired by Craft, or both.

"One constant is our great rivalry with Mt. SAC," Early said.

It's just that, for the first time, Tom Craft will be on the Mounties' sideline.

Freshman outside.linebacker Bubba Pugh puts a hurt on Grossmont ball-carrier during 56-42 victory on  Saturday. (Photos by Hugh Cox)

Palomar now 11th in nation;

No. 9 Mt. SAC and Crafts next


Palomar moved up four places from No. 15 to No. 11 in the J.C. Grid-Wire national community college football rankings on Monday after beating Grossmont 56-42 on the road Saturday.

Next up for the Comets: No. 9-ranked Mt. SAC -- featuring Tom and Kevin Craft -- on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Wilson Stadium Escondido. The Mounties pulverized Mt. San Jacinto 70-9 on Saturday, also on the road.

Both teams come into  the game 2-0.

Bakersfield, a 33-31 winner over former No. 1 El Camino College, moved up from second into the top spot in the Grid-Wire rankings. Saddleback took over the No. 2 ranking, followed by No. 3 City College of San Francisco, No. 4 Butler (Kansas), No. 5 Pearl River (Mississippi), No. 6 Santa Rosa, No. 7 El Camino, No. 8 Jones (Mississippi), the No. 9 Mounties and No.10 Snow (Utah).

Following the 11th-ranked Comets in the Top Twenty are No. 12 Blinn (Texas), No. 13 Fullerton, No. 14 Butte, No. 15 Eastern Arizona, No.  16 Cisco (Texas), No. 17 Foothill, No.18 College of San Mateo, No. 19 Gulf Coast (Mississippi) and No. 20 Fresno City College. Citrus in No. 21, Iowa Central No. 22, Diablo Valley No. 23, Laney No. 24 and Pasadena City College, Mesa (Arizona) and Itawamba (Pennsylvania) are tied for 25th.

Saturday's game will feature the return of Mt. SAC offensive coordinator Tom Craft, Palomar's head coach for most of the last quarter-century and the ex-head coach at San Diego State.

And it will feature a match-up of two of the premier quarterbacks in community college football, the Comets' Hunter Wanket (pictured above left breaking off a run against Grossmont) and the Mounties' Kevin Craft.

Kevin Craft, Tom Craft's son and a transfer from San Diego State, where he was a part-time starter at quarterback last season, spent most of his early year's on Palomar's sideline as the Comets' ball boy. He gray-shirted at Palomar in 2004 before moving on to San Diego State.

Kevin Craft has passed for 10 touchdowns in the Mounties' first two games.

LEFT: Gerardo Powell (58), Bubba Pugh (41) and Lawrence Hunt (44) put a collective hurt on Grossmont ball-carrier. RIGHT: David Motu takes Griffins' Garen Demery on a ride backwards through the air. (Photos by Rick Rowell)

Comets (707 yds., 56 pts.) roll up

Grossmont, keep 2 streaks alive


Palomar rolled up 707 yards in total offense Saturday as the Comets rocked host Grossmont 56-42 to run their football win streak vs. San Diego County opponents to 27 games.

Freshman running back Leilyon Myers, who originally signed with the University of Washington, rushed for 227 yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries.

The Comets (2-0) defeated the Griffins for the ninth straight time.

Myers'  rushing performance was the third-best in Palomar history. Only Joe Hall, who later starred for Kansas State and has been in five NFL training camps, has rushed for more yards in a single game for the Comets. Hall totaled 261 yards against Saddleback and 246 yards vs. Pasadena City College, both in 1998.

Myers scored on runs of 9, 24 and 38 yards and Donnell Fulford (left, scoring game's first touchdown) added 120 yards and two TDs on 20 carries as Palomar set a school record with 471 yards on the ground. The Comets averaged 10.0 yards per carry against the Griffins.

Quarterback Hunter Wanket also came up big again in the rout as he again did his patented imitation of 2006 first-team All-American and current University of Connecticut quarterback Tyler Lorenzen with 316 yards in total offense and three touchdowns of his own.

Wanket connected on 13-of-19 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns and also rushed for 80 yards and a 26-yard TD on six carries.

Palomar's defense came through when it had to -- getting a huge interception from freshman safety Loa Madon and producing a goal-line stand at the 1-yard line when Grossmont was trying to mount a late comeback.

Freshman outside linebacker Bubba Pugh (eight tackles, six solo and two tackles for losses), middle linebacker Mike Bethea (six tackles) and freshman corner Nick Walker (five tackles, all solo, two tackles for losses and two broken-up passes) led the defensive surge.

The score could have been worse. Kyle Hill's 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown was nullified by off-setting penalties and the Comets had the ball at the Grossmont 5-yard line late in the fourth quarter but stayed in the huddle as the clock wound down to end the game.

Fulford's TD runs went for 1 and 22 yards. Wanket's touchdown passes went to Richie Martin for 23 yards and Tobias Shanks (pictured at right on TD catch) for 10 yards.

Palomar  has not lost to a San Diego County opponent since 1988.

The Comets now will host Mt. SAC (2-0), a 70-9 winner over Mt. San Jacinto on Saturday, next Saturday (Sept. 15) at 1 p.m. at Escondido High School's Wilson Stadium.


Coach Joe Early (above) and his team will face an old rival Saturday when the Comets travel to Grossmont College. (Photos by Rick Rowell)

Comets put 26-game win streak

vs. SD County teams on the line


Palomar College and Grossmont College, two traditional national community college football powers who have rarely faced each other in recent seasons, will resume their rivalry when they play a non-conference game Saturday, Sept. 8, at 3 p.m. at Grossmont.

"I can guarantee you they'll be one pumped up football team," Palomar coach Joe Early said about the Griffins, who were ranked No. 6 nationally in the pre-season but were 56-13 on the road to nationally No. 1-ranked and defending state champion El Camino College last Saturday.

Early's Palomar squad kicked off the season with a 34-14 victory over San Bernardino Valley as quarterback Hunter Wanket (left) passed for 326 yards and three touchdowns, Tobias Shanks caught seven passes for 200 yards and the defense pitched a shutout over the game's final 31 minutes, 14 seconds.

"Beating us Saturday would be a great way to get back on track for (Grossmont)," Early said. "We're expecting a very physical,  very intense game."

It will be the first time the Comets (1-0), who are ranked No. 15 in the nation by the J.C. Grid-Wire, and Griffins (0-1) have met since 2002 and only the second time since 1994.

Palomar will be seeking its 27th consecutive victory over San Diego County teams. The Comets lost last to a county opponent on  Nov. 29, 1988, when they fell to Southwestern 32-25, in the final game of the season..

Palomar has won its last eight meetings with Grossmont dating back to a 21-16 loss in 1987. The Comets defeated the Griffins 58-6 in 1988, 28-21 in 1989, 63-44 in 1990, 49-6 on the way to national championship in 1991, 51-41 in 1992, 50-13 en route to another national title in 1993, 48-28 in 1994 and 20-19 in 2002.

But the host Griffins, who won the Grid-Wire national championship in 2005, have held a rankings edge over the three-time national champion Comets and county bragging rights every season since 2002.

The Comets capped a 10-win, 1-loss season in long-time assistant Early's first year as head coach that season, capped by the 20-19 win over the Griffins in the South County Bowl to achieve a final No. 4 national ranking. The Comets trailed late but scored the winning touchdown on an 80-yard pass play with 1:32 to play.

Since then, the Griffins have pretty much owned the show national-rankings wise among San Diego County teams -- but these two teams have not met during that span.

The rivalry that is renewed Saturday will continue yearly beginning next season when  Palomar and Grossmont are slated to play in the same division in the new Southern California Community College Football Alliance.

The game will  be broadcast live on the internet on Grossmont College radio, http://www.live365.com/stations/grossmontathletics?site=pro

Football National Rankings












Defensive end Caleb Evans (94) closes in to tackle San Bernardino Valley running back DeShawn Smith in Comets' 34-14 season-oping win. Andrew Sugg (95) is at left. (Photos by Rick Rowell)

Palomar jumps a spot to No. 15

in Grid-Wire's national rankings


Palomar moved up a notch to No. 15 in the J.C. Grid-Wire national football rankings after the Comets' 34-14 season-opening victory over San Bernardino Valley on Saturday at Wilson Stadium.

No.1 El Camino College, No. 2 Bakersfield, No. 3 City College of San Francisco, No. 4 Pearl River (Mississippi), No. 5 Butler (Kansas), No. 6 Blinn (Texas), No. 7 Santa Rosa, No. 8 Saddleback, No. 9 Mt. SAC and No. 10 Northwest Mississippi hold down the top 10 spots.

El Camino and Mt. SAC are both future Palomar opponents.

College of the Sequoias is ranked No. 11, Moorpark No.12, Snow (Utah) No. 13, Cisco (Texas) No. 14, Fullerton No. 16, Citrus No. 17, Fresno City College No. 18, Jones (Mississippi) No. 19, College of the Canyons No. 20, Mesa (Arizona) No. 21, College of San Mateo No. 22, Foothill No. 23, Butte No. 24 and Iowa Central No. 25.

Palomar out-gained San Bernardino Valley 509 yards to 199 yards on Saturday as quarterback Hunter Wanket passed for 326 yards and three touchdowns and Tobias Shanks had seven receptions for 200 yards and a 61-yard touchdown.

Andrew Frasier returned a kickoff 41 yards to set up a touchdown.

The Comets shut out the Wolverines over the final 31 minutes, 14 seconds. Michael Wright (No. 7, above left) and Michael Allen intercepted passes.

ORDER PHOTOS (enter password: cometball)

Leilyon Myers breaks a tackle on his way to a 15-yard gain to the San Bernardino Valley 21-yard line in the first quarter. The drive culminated with a 22-yard field goal by Joe Carithers. (Photos by Hugh Cox)

Wanket (326 yds. passing), Shanks

(7 catches, 200 yds.) lift Comets


Nationally 16th-ranked Palomar kicked off the 2007 football season with a 34-14 non-conference victory over San Bernardino Valley on Saturday evening in Escondido.

Quarterback Hunter Wanket (19-for-32, 326 yards, three touchdowns), receiver Tobias Shanks (seven catches, 200 yards, one touchdown) and an opportunistic defense led the way as the Comets out-gained the Wolverines 509 yards to 199.

Wanket's TD passes went to Shanks for 44 yards (left), 9 yards to Stephan Towns (right) and 18 yards to Kyle Hill. He also had an 80-yard TD pass play to Shanks nullified by a penalty.

The Comets also scored a TD on a 1-yard run by Donnell Fulford. Joe Carithers kicked field goals of 22 and 24 yards and tacked on four PATs.

Wanket threw for 224 of his yards in the first half.

Cornerback David Batts (nine tackles, one for a loss) and middle linebacker Mike Bethea (No. 36 left, seven tackles, two for losses) led the way as Palomar's defense held San Bernardino to 57 yards rushing and 142 passing. Michael Wright and Michael Allen intercepted passes. Bubba Pugh recovered a fumble.

The Comets shut out the Wolverines in the second half.


Tyler Lorenzen is off and running Saturday. So were the UConn Huskies.

Lorenzen leads UConn to 45-14 win;

Ex-Comet throws, runs for 354 yds.


Palomar transfer Tyler Lorenzen made his debut as the University of Connecticut's quarterback one to remember Saturday as he led the Huskies to a 45-14 rout of Duke in a non-conference game at Durham, NC.

Lorenzen, the J.C. Grid-Wire's first-team All-American quarterback a year ago and the 2006 national community college total offense champion, connected on 22-of-30 pass attempts for 298 yards and two touchdowns.

He also rushed for 56 yards.

 Palomar opens with San Berdoo;

Bethea is 1st-team All-American


Palomar will face a mystery opponent to kick off the 2007 football season Saturday, Sept. 1.

That mystery opponent, whom the nationally 16th-ranked Comets will play in a non-conference game at Escondido High's Wilson Stadium, is San Bernardino Valley.

Kickoff will be at 5 p.m. and t he game will be broadcast live on KKSM-1320 AM, on Cox Cable digital channel 958 and on the world-wide web at http://www.palomar.edu/kksm/live.asp.

"We don't know much about them," coach Joe Early said. "They have a new offensive coordinator, they didn't scrimmage anyone and we didn't exchange video.

"We do expect them  to be big and physical."

Palomar features top Division I sophomore prospects middle linebacker Mike Bethea (left), a J.C. Grid-Wire first-team pre-season All-American, slot-kick return specialist Kyle Hill, receiver Tobias Shanks, quarterback Hunter Wanket, corner Michael Wright, running back Donnell Fulford, center Vic Aquilina and one of its best freshman classes ever.

The Comets are coming off a season when they went 6-5, tied for the Mission Conference American Division championship, missed an unbeaten season by 22 points and lost 30-28 to then nationally No. 1-ranked Saddleback on the road in the first round of the state community college playoffs.

Wanket throws for four TDs as

Palomar dominates scrimmage


Palomar's football team dominated Chaffey in a scrimmage on Saturday at Wilson Stadium in Escondido as sophomore quarterback Hunter Wanket (left) did his best imitation of 2006 All-American Tyler Lorenzen.

The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Wanket, splitting time with two other quarterbacks, completed 7-of-11 passes for 150 yards and four touchdowns.

Wanket also rushed for 60 positive yards on five carries.

The TD passes went to  Donnell Fulford for 13 yards, Adam Madden for 15 yards, Shawn Dearing for 35 yards and John Melton for 45 yards. Wanket, Steven Carroll and Joey Erickson threw for a combined 275 yards  The Palomar QBs were a combined 17-for-31, were not intercepted, and Wanket and Carroll each had a drop that eliminated what would have been big gains.

The Comets' other touchdowns came on runs of 9 yards by Leilyon Myers, 9  yards by Carroll and 6 and 10 yards by Diondre Grigsby.

Myers rushed for 71 yards on 10 carries, Fulford for 64 yards on eight carries.

Nine different Comets carried the ball and 11 caught passes. All-American wide receiver candidate Tobias Shanks was held out due to a minor injury.

The Comets threw only one pass to Kyle Hill, their most dangerous all-around player. The teams played a live quarter to begin the scrimmage, and Hill was one defender away from returning the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown. He returned the ball 37 yards.

Loren Rojas and John Price intercepted passes as Palomar's defensive unit limited Chaffey to two touchdowns on the afternoon Defensive end Caleb Evans recorded two sacks, while defensive end Kevin Austin broke up two passes.

Coach Joe Early singled out linebackers Shane Melbo, David Motu and Bubba Pugh and defensive backs Loa Madon and Michael Wright for their play on defense.

"The defense looked quick and sharp," Early said. .

Center Vic Aquilina led the way as Palomar's young offensive line was much improved from an intrasquad scrimmage the previous week.

"Offensively, our quarterbacks did as good job and our defensive line, young as it is, did a real good job and has something to build on," Early said. "(Joe) Carithers is going to do a good job kicking.

"Overall, this was a good starting point for us leading into practice for San Bernardino this week."

The Comets kick off the season this upcoming Saturday, Sept. 1, against San Bernardino Valley at Wilson Stadium at 5 p.m.

Palomar transfer Lorenzen named

UConn's 2007 quarterback starter


Palomar transfer Tyler Lorenzen, the J.C. Grid-Wire's first-team All-American quarterback last Fall, has been named the University of Connecticut's 2007 starting quarterback.

UConn head coach Randy Edsell named the 6-foot-5, 225-pound junior, the 2006 national community college total offense leader, the Huskies starter on Tuesday.

"We feel that it was a good competition between Tyler and Dennis but that Tyler has clearly solidified himself as the number one quarterback," UConn coach Edsall said.

Lorenzen (above right, photo by Dirk Dewachter) completed 229 of 332 attemps for 2,960 yards and 26 touchdowns last Fall and rushed for an additional 836 yards and eight TDs in leading the Comets to a share of the Mission Conference American Division championship.

He'd been battling with red-shirt sophomore Dennis Brown for the UConn starting job.

The Huskies of the Big East Conference open the 2007 season on Sept.1 against Duke.

Palomar opens season ranked

No. 16 in the nation by Grid-Wire


The J.C. Grid-Wire rates Palomar No. 16 in the nation among 145 football-playing community colleges in the pre-season.

Coach Joe Early (left, photo by Dirk Derkwachter) and the Comets will play five of their 10 regular-season games against other schools that are ranked in the Top 30 in the nation -- including a Nov. 3 game at pre-season nationally No. 1-ranked and defending California Community College champion El Camino College.

That game will be played at Murdock Stadium at El Camino College in Torrance at 6 p.m.

Games against other Top 30 teams:

  • at No. 6 Grossmont on Sept. 8, 3 p.m.

  • No. 12 Mt. SAC on Sept. 15, Wilson Stadium, Escondido High School, 1 p.m.

  • at No. 27 Riverside Community College, Sept. 22, 5 p.m.

  • No. 29 Pasadena City College, Sept. 29, Wilson Stadium, Escondido High School, 1 p.m.

  • at No. 1 El Camino, Nov. 3, 6 p.m.

The nation's pre-season Top 30 teams, as ranked by the J.C. Grid-Wire, are No. 1 El Camino, No.  2 City College of San Francisco, No. 3 Butler (Kansas), No. 4 Pearl River (Mississippi), No. 5 Bakersfield, No. 6 Grossmont, No. 7 Santa Rosa, No. 8 Blinn (Texas), No. 9 Fresno City College, No. 10 Saddleback.

Also, No.11 Snow (Utah), No. 12 Mt.SAC, No. 13 Georgia Military, No. 14 College of the Sequoias, No. 15 Coffeyville (Kansas), No. 16 Palomar, No. 17 Moorpark, No. 18 Cisco (Texas), No.19 Jones County (Mississippi), No. 20 College of San Mateo.

Also, No. 21 Copiah-Lincoln (Mississippi), No. 22 Foothill, No. 23 Sierra, No. 24 Mississippi Gulf Coast, No. 25 Garden City (Kansas), No. 26 Joliet (Illinois), No. 27 Riverside Community College, No .28 Arizona Western, No. 29 Pasadena City College and No. 30 Lackawanna (Pennsylvania).


To subscribe to the J.C. Grid-Wire for the 2007 season, go to http: www.JCFootball.com and signup for Total Access, or e-mail kevin@jcfootball.com. The Grid-Wire, published by Hank Ives, and JCFootball.com are now partners.

125 prospective Comets open Fall practices


Coach Joe Early greeted 125 candidates as Palomar opened drills for the 2007 football season Thursday at the Comets' practice field.

"For the first day, I liked where we're at," Early said. "We're a long way from where we'll be in a couple of weeks, but I like where we're at.

"We had a good summer, and it appears to be carrying into August camp. We've got talent and speed, but after we've been in pads a couple weeks and practiced in high stress situations,  we'll know a lot better about where we're at."

The Comets -- who tied for the Mission Conference American Division title a year ago and defeated the other co-champion, Mt. SAC, 42-7 -- will kick off the 2007 campaign against San Bernardino Valley at Escondido's Wilson Stadium three weeks from Saturday, on Sept. 1 at 5 p.m.

Palomar returns three first-team all-conference selections in wide receiver Tobias Shanks, running back Donnell Fulford and cornerback Michael Wright. Other returning starters are slot receiver Kyle Hill, center Victor Aquilina, middle linebacker Mike Bethea (left) and outside linebacker Lawrence Hunt.

The Comets have two outstanding quarterbacks in sophomore Hunter Wanket, who was named to the All-Southern California Community College Combine Team over the summer, and freshman Steven Carroll from Oceanside High School

Defensive end Grant Wallenda (91), shown in Comets' 24-20 loss to eventual state community college champion El Camino College last Sept. 30, has died after a motorcycle accident. Wallenda was an organ donor. (Photo by Hugh Gerhardt)

Comets mourn Wallenda's mortorcycle death


Palomar's football team is mourning the death of Grant Wallenda, who was a projected starter as a sophomore for the Comets for the 2007 season.

Wallenda, a 6-foot-4, 250-pound defensive end who saw considerable playing time at 215 pounds for the Comets during the 2006 season, died Friday at Loma Linda Medical Center from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident in June.

Coach Joe Early said the Comets will wear Wallenda's initials, "G.W.", on their helmets during the 2007 season.

"We were expecting some special things out of Grant this Fall," said J.G. Aegerter, Palomar co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach. "He had a terrific spring and had so much upside.

"We haven't had a defensive end that size since Corey Mace (who started at the University of Wyoming, currently with the Buffalo Bills) and Soli Lefiti (who started for the University of Utah). Grant played a lot for us as a freshman and was a projected starter for us this Fall. Grant would have been a big-time Division I scholarship player. He was such a great kid and had such a bright future."

Early said Palomar's coaches will present Wallenda's No. 91 jersey to his family and girlfriend.

Grant Wallenda was an All-CIF-Southern Section Division V first-team selection as a defensive lineman as a senior during the 2005 season at West Valley High School in Hemet.

Wallenda was 14th in the state in sacks with 16 for 111 yards in losses during his senior season for the Mustangs. He also helped lead West Valley to an unbeaten boys volleyball regular season and Citrus Belt League championship as a senior during the 2006 season, and was a championship-level mountain biker.

Wallenda was an organ donor.

Services are private. Aegerter said a celebration of Wallenda's life is pending.

Hamideh to I-AA Texas Southern; List is at 17


Defensive tackle Zach Hamideh (left) has accepted a scholarship to NCAA Division I-AA Texas Southern, a member of the Southwestern Athletic Conference located in Houston TX

Palomar's list of players from the 2006 football team moving onto four-year college programs is now at 17, including 10 to Division I-A or I-AA schools.

Hamideh, a 6-foot-3, 265-pound San Marcos High School product, was Palomar's third-leading tackler last Fall as a starter for a team  that tied for the Mission Conference American Division championship and advanced to the state community college playoffs.

Hamideh finished the season with 49 tackles (15 unassisted) in 11 games, seven tackles for losses, three sacks, three quarterback hurries and a fumble recovery.

Palomar’s list of outgoing football recruits:

         Quarterback Tyler Lorenzen (University of Connecticut)

         Safety Derrick McMahon (University of Wyoming)

         Defensive end Tyler Breckenridge (University of Wyoming)

         Offensive tackle Una Smiley (Oregon State)

         Safety Trent Barker (University of Utah)

         Punter / kickoff specialist Jake Harry (University of Missouri)

         Tight end Kevin Small (University of Idaho)

         Corner Chris Williams (University of Idaho)

         Center Nick Macias (Sacramento State)

         Defensive tackle Zach Hamideh (Texas Southern)

         Slot receiver Tyler Fenton (Truman State)

         Linebacker Tyler Hiatt (Adams State)

         Quarterback Carter Hallock (Arkansas Tech)

         Offensive tackle Tony Faasoa (Northern State)

         Offensive guard Steven Kolone (Northern State)

         Safety Nick Graves (Redlands)

         Defensive tackle Joe Sloan (Azusa Pacific)

Offensive guard Steven Kolone (76, nearest camera), has accepted a scholarship to NCAA Division II Northern State. (Photo by Hugh Gerhardt)

OG Steven Kolone will play at D-II Northern St.


Palomar's list of football players from last season's team moving on to play at four-year college teams has reached 16 after starting offensive left guard Steven Kolone (left) accepted a scholarship to Northern State.

The NCAA Division II school is located in Aberdeen, SD.

Kolone, a 6-foot-3, 280-pound sophomore from Rancho Bernardo High, will join  Palomar teammate Tony Faasua, a starting offensive tackle last Fall who previously signed with the Wolves.

WR Fenton accepts scholarship to Truman St.


Slot receiver Tyler Fenton (right), who led Palomar's 2006 football team with 43 catches for 533 yards and six touchdowns, has accepted a scholarship to NCAA Division II Truman State University in Kirksville, MO.

Fenton had 12 receptions for 133 yards and a touchdown in the Comets' 30-28 opening-round state playoff loss to Saddleback, at the time the No. 1-ranked team in the nation by the J.C. Grid-Wire.

Also, quarterback Carter Hallock, who backed up sophomore starter and Grid-Wire first-team All-American Tyler Lorenzen (now at Connecticut) and freshman Hunter Wanket (who is returning) in 2006, has de-committed to West Texas A&M and has accepted a scholarship to NCAA Division II Arkansas Tech.

Palomar will kick off the season on Sept. 1


Palomar's again will play five home games and five away games this upcoming Fall, beginning with a non-conference match-up with San Bernardino Valley College on Saturday, Sept. 1, at 5 p.m.

The Comets, under coach Joe Early, again will play their home games at Wilson Stadium on the campus of Escondido High School.

Palomar's other home games will be against Mt. SAC, Orange Coast, Long Beach City College and Golden West.

The Comets -- who are defending Mission Conference American Division co-champions and have won three National Community College Championships -- will play 2005 National Champion Grossmont Grossmont on Sept.8 at Grossmont. It will be the teams' first meeting since the Comets' 2002 team, which was ranked No. 4 in the Nation by the J.C. Grid-Wire, beat the Griffins 20-19 in the South County Bowl.

Palomar has gone 26-0 against San Diego County community colleges since losing its final game to Southwestern in 1987.


  • SEPT 1 -- San Bernardino Valley, Wilson Stadium, 5 p.m.

  • SEPT 8 -- at Grossmont, 3 p.m.

  • SEPT 15 -- Mt. SAC at Wilson Stadium, 1 p.m.

  • SEPT 22 -- at Riverside Community College, 5 p.m.

  • SEPT 29 -- at Pasadena City College, 1 p.m.

  • OCT 13 -- Orange Coast, Wilson Stadium, 5 p.m.

  • OCT 20 -- Long Beach City College, Wilson Stadium, 1 p.m.

  • OCT 27 -- at El Camino, 6 p.m.

  • NOV 3 -- at Fullerton, site TBA, 1 p.m.

  • NOV 10 -- Golden West, Wilson Stadium, 1 p.m.

ABOVE LEFT: Slot receiver / kick return specialist Kyle Hill (above) is a pre-season honors candidate for the Comets. -- Photo by Hugh Gerhardt

Ex-Palomar receiver Spencer signs with 'Skins


Former Palomar slot receiver Caleb Spencer has signed a free agent contract with the Washington Redskins.

Spencer (left and below right) started 35 games the past three seasons for the University of Nevada, finishing his Wolfpack career with 189 receptions for 2,214 yards. He made the All-WAC first team as a junior in 2005 and was second team as a senior in 2006.

The 6-foot-0, 180-pounder from Kamehameha High School in Honolulu, HI, played his freshman season for the Comets in 2003, catching 42 passes for 772 yards and five TDs for a team that went 8-3 and was ranked No. 15 nationally by the J.C. Grid-Wire at the end of the regular season.

Both the Comets' regular-season losses came in overtime to teams that finished the regular season with 10-0 records, Mt. SAC and College of the Canyons.

Spencer led Nevada in receiving last Fall with 55 receptions for 564 yards. He had four catches for 34 yards in the Wolfpack's 21-20 loss to Miami on Dec. 31 in the MPC Computers Bowl at Boise, ID. At Nevada, Spencer had high single games of 10 receptions as a sophomore in 2004 (vs. San Diego State), 12 as a junior in 2005 (vs. UNLV) and eight as a senior in 2006 (vs. Arizona State and again against Northwestern).

Previously, offensive tackle Chris Pino (who played on the four-year college level at San Diego State) signed with the Baltimore Ravens and defensive end Corey Mace (who played at Wyoming) signed with the Buffalo Bills.

Mace signs out of Wyoming with Buffalo Bills


Former Palomar defensive lineman Corey Mace (left) has signed an NFL free agent contract with the Buffalo Bills. The 6-foot-3,  287-pound defensive end / tackle  starred for the University of Wyoming the last two season.

Mace (left) will report to mini-camp with the Bills next week.

He becomes the second former Palomar and Wyoming player currently in pro football.

Safety Ron Rockett plays with the Frankfurt Galaxy in NFL Europe.

Yahoo.com: Pino 2nd on Ravens depth chart


Yahoo.com lists former Palomar standout Chris Pino (right) as No. 2 on the Baltimore Ravens' depth chart at offensive left tackle -- behind All-Pro veteran Jonathan Ogden, who may retire.

Pino (6-foot-5, 315 pounds) played on the Division I level at San Diego State and made it to the final cut last season with the Washington Redskins.

He saw extensive action in the Redskins' final preseason game -- against the Ravens, who signed him to their practice squad when he was released.

Pino was promoted to the regular roster in January.

Schmidt and Rockett both sign with NFL Europe


Former Palomar football players Taylor Schmidt (who played center, San Diego State) and Ron Rockett  (safety, University of Wyoming, pictured at left making a tackle against Florida) both have signed contracts with NFL Europe.

Both were selected in late February in the 16th round of the league's draft -- Taylor with the Rhein Fire and Rockett with the Frankfurt Galaxy.

Both are reporting to training camp in Florida. Taylor made it through most of the 2006 NFL pre-season with the Seattle Seahawks before being released.


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