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National Champions 1991, 1993, 1998

CALIFORNIA STATE CHAMPIONS 1991, 1993, 1998 | CONFERENCE/DIVISION CHAMPIONS 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2006 | POST-SEASON APPEARANCES 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009

    2010 Schedule    |      2010 Roster     |     2010 Stats 

     Coaching Staff    |     Individual Records (As of beginning of 2011 Season)    |   

 Palomar Football History |  Comets Currently in NFL, 4-year College Football

Mike Dobbins (68) was a key offensive line performer for the Comets for two seasons. -- Photo by Hugh Cox

Dobbins now is  Central Washington-bound

ELLENSBURG, Washington (6-23-11) -- Palomar guard / center Mike Dobbins, a 6-foot-4, 270-pound sophomore product of Mission Hills High School, has de-committed from Western New Mexico and will play for NCAA Division II national power Central Washington University.

Central Washington was 9-3 last season, when it ventured to QWest Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks, and dropped a 35-32 shootout to eventual NCAA D-I Bowl Subdivision (I(-AA) national champion Eastern Washington on national TV last Sept. 11.

The Wildcats, the five-time defending Great Northwest Athletic Conference champions, will play on national TV again this upcoming season when they open conference play at Humboldt State on Sept. 8. The game will kick off at 5 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.

Central Washington will open the season against Texas A&M-Kingsville on Sept. 2 at home in Ellensburg, WA.

Player Pos. College / University
Zach Gholson DE University of Memphis
C.J. Malauulu MLB Kent State
Nate Ong QB Old Dominion
Tynan Murray QB/LS Western Illinois
Devin Willis CB Northern Arizona
Richie Mata'afa DE/LB Northern Alabama
Javon Reynolds WR Glenville State
Mike Dobbins G/C Central Washington
Reggie McGrue DT William Penn
Tanner Hix LB Cal Lutheran
Keith Alpichi LB North Park University

ABOVE: Richie Mata'afa (left) and Keith Alpichi bury Pasadena City College ball-carrier in Palomar's 17-10 victory last Oct. 30 in Pasadena. Mata'afa has received a full scholarship to the University of North Alabama. Alpichi will play at North Park University in Chicago. -- File photo by Hugh Cox. BELOW: Jevon Reynolds, who has signed with Glenville State in Glenville, West Virginia.

Mata'afa, Reynolds and Alpichi accept offers

SAN MARCOS (5-4-11) -- Defensive end / linebacker Richie Mata'afa has received a full scholarship to play for the University of North Alabama, receiver Javon Reynolds has signed with Glenville State and linebacker Keith Alpichi will continue his football career at North Park University.

Mata'afa, a 5-foot-11, 230-pound sophomore from Chaparral High School in Temecula, is transferring into a program that won NCAA Division II national championships in 1993, 1994 and 1995. North Alabama is located in Florence, Alabama and plays in the Gulf South Conference.

The Lions advanced to the second round of the Division II playoffs last Fall, where they were eliminated by Delta State.

North Alabama will play its third game this upcoming Fall at Cowboy Stadium in Arlington, Texas, against Abilene Christian University.

Mata'afa recorded 24 tackles (15 solo) for the Comets in 2010 in nine games. He had eight tackles for losses, 3.5 sacks, 1 pass break-up, 2 quarterback hurries and three fumble recoveries.

Reynolds, a 6-foot, 180-pound sophomore from Denver South High School in Denver, Colorado, was the Comets' leading receiver last Fall.with 46 catches in 10 games for 459 yards and six touchdowns.

Division II Glenville State is located in Gl8enville, West Virginia and plays in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

North Park, where Alpichi will play, is located in Chicago. Alpichi, a 5-foot-10, 225-pound sophomore linebacker from Great Oak High School in Temecula, had 42 tackles (20 solo) for the Comets during the 2010 season in eight games. He recorded 2.5 tackles for losses, 1 sack, 1 interception and 1 broken-up pass.

Cornerback Devin Willis (No. 36) makes a tackle against Grossmont in a 2009 game. Willis, who had 79 tackles (54 solo) and 23 pass break-ups in 17 games over the last two seasons, will sign with NAU. -- Photo by Hugh Cox

Willis latest Comet to commit, to sign with NAU

SAN MARCOS (1-30-11) -- Devin Willis, a sophomore cornerback who was a key defensive performer for Palomar the last two seasons, has become the latest Comet to commit to a four-year school.

Willis, Palomar's third-leading tackler in 2010 behind freshman safety Devin Tarverna and defensive end Zach Gholson, will sign with Northern Arizona University during the next NCAA signing period which begins this Wednesday, Feb. 2.

The Lumberjacks are members of the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) Big Sky Conference. NAU, located in Flagstaff, Arizona, are coming off a 6-5 season and will kick off its 2011 schedule on Sept. 23 against the University of Arizona in Tucson.

The 5-foot-10, 175-pound Willis had 79 tackles (54 solo) playing in 17 games for Palomar over the past two seasons. He had 23 pass break-ups in two years as a Comet.

As a 2010 sophomore, Willis had 58 tackles (38 solo) in 10 games, 2.5 tackles for losses, one interception, 15 pass break-ups and two blocked kicks.

The Miami Northwestern High School product is the sixth Comet to commit so far and the first from a non-North San Diego County high school.

Gholson (Memphis) is from La Costa Canyon High School. Middle linebacker C.J. Malauulu (Kent State) is from El Camino High. Quarterback Nate Ong (Old Dominion) is from San Pasqual High. Quarterback /non-snapper Tynan Murray (Western Illinois) is from Poway High. Defensive tackle Reggie McGrue, who signed with NAIA national power William Penn University, is also a Poway High product.

Kent State-bound middle linebacker C.J. Malauulu hauls down Silver Viafanua in 2010 game. -- Photo by Hugh Cox

PC Defensive captain Malauulu to Kent State

SAN MARCOS (1-24-11) -- Palomar middle inebacker Casey (C.J.) Malauulu has accepted a scholarship offer from Kent State University and will sign with the Golden Flashes during the signing period that begins Feb. 2.

Kent State will open its 2011 season on Sept. 3 at Alabama.

Malauulu, a 6-foot-1, 235-pounder who came to Palomar from El Camino High School, was Palomar's defensive captain.

Malauulu, a second-generation Comet, had 47 tackles (27 solo) during the 2010 season playing in nine games and missing the other game due to an injury.

He had two tackles for losses, one sack, one pass break-up and a blocked kick.

Malauulu capped off the season in the last game of the year by helping lead the Comets to a 43-35 victory over rival Grossmont with 10 tackles (eight solo).

Four Palomar players transferred to four-year  universities at the semester, defensive end Zach Gholson transferred to the University of Memphis. Quarterback Nate Ong transferred to Old Dominion University. Quarterback / long snapper Tynan Murray transferred to Western Illinois University. Defensive tackle Reggie McGrue, Murray's teammate at both Poway High School and Palomar, accepted a scholarship to NAIA power William Penn University.

Tynan Murray, running for a first down against Fullerton on Oct. 28, has become the second quarterback and fourth 2010 Palomar player to move on to a four-year school at mid-year.. -- Photo by Hugh Cox

Murray transfers to Western Illinois at mid-year

SAN MARCOS (1-16-11) -- Palomar quarterback / long snapper Tynan Murray has become the fourth 2010 Comet to earn a football scholarship to a four-year school and transfer at the semester.

Murray signed with Western Illinois University, a member of the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) Summit Conference and will begin classes in Macomb, Illinois on Tuesday.

Murray is the second 2010 sophomore Palomar quarterback to transfer out at mid-year. Nate Ong began classes at Old Dominion University last week.

Last week. defensive end Zach Gholson transferred to the University of Memphis. Defensive tackle Reggie McGrfue, Murray's teammate at both Poway High School and Palomr, accepted a scholarship to NAIA power William Penn Universilty.

Murray quarterbacked Poway to a CIF San Diego Section Division I championship and also high jumped 7-feet, 1-inch for the Titans in 2008.

He's considered a possible NFL prospect as a long snapper and spent the 2010 season backing up Ong at quarterback for the Comets and also long snapping.

The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Murray started at QB against Fullerton College on Oct. 28, when Ong was injured, rushing for 108 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries and passing for 146 yards and one TD.

Palomar defensive end and team MVP Zach Gholson, shown recovering a fumble in win over Pasadena City College, has excepted a full-ride scholarship to the University of Memphis and will start classes there on Thursday. -- Photo by Hugh Cox

Palomar MVP Gholson signs with Memphis

SAN MARCOS (1-11-11) -- Defensive end Zach Gholson signed with the University of Memphis on Monday night, will begin classes there on Thursday and is expected to be a huge factor for the Tigers' defense the next two seasons.

Gholson,  who transferred back to Palomar from Boise State where he played in 2009, played in nine of the Comets' 10 games in 2010. He missed one game due to an injury.

The La Costa Canyon High School product had  69 tackles (34 solo), 4 tackles for losses, 3 sacks, 6 quarterback hurries, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble. He also intercepted a two-point conversion pass, which doesn't show up in the statistical totals.

Gholson tripped to Memphis over the weekend and made a verbal commitment to the Tigers.

He briefly delayed signing the letter after returning from the trip on Sunday at the request of Nevada, which came on the scene at the last minute after watching Gholson's highlight video. But Nevada associate head coach / defensive ends coach Ken Wilson didn't place a scheduled phone call to him Monday morning, after the Wolf Pack's Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl victory over Boston College on Sunday evening, and Gholson signed the letter of intent with Memphis.

"The University of Memphis is a great school in a great City and they're the one school that recruited me very heavily and really wanted me," Gholson said. "They were honest and up front with me the whole way through the recruiting process and  they believe I can make a big impact in building what they're trying to build. There is something to be said for going where you are wanted."

Added the 6-foot-4, 250-pound Gholson:

"They brought in their head coach (Larry Porter, who will be in his second season at Memphis) off the LSU staff to turn the program around and my position coach (Mike DuBose, who also will be in his second season) was the head coach at Alabama and was an assistant in the NFL (with Tampa Bay). They're great coaches and are committed to doing something special at Memphis. And I have an opportunity to be a big part of that."

Previously, Gholson took visits to the University of South Dakota, New Mexico State and Middle Tennessee State.

Choo Choo Walker, a standout receiver on Palomar's 1991 J.C. Grid-Wire national championship team, starred at Memphis (then Memphis State) in the 1990s.


McGrue signs with NAIA 12th-ranked William Penn

SAN MARCOS (1-13-11) -- Defensive tackle Reggie McGrue has become the third Palomar football player in the last week to sign with a four-year college.

McGrue, a 6-foot-4, 265-pound sophomore who prepped at Poway High School, signed with William Penn University in Oskaloosa, Iowa.

The Statesmen went 10-1 during the 2010 season and were ranked No. 12 in the nation in the final NAIA poll.

Previously in the past week, defensive end Zach Gholson signed with the University of Memphis and quarterb ack Nate Ong signed with Old Dominion University.

Nevada (13-1), with its PC connection, wins bowl

SAN FRANCISCO / OTHER LOCATIONS  (1-10-11) -- Nevada's defense, under coordinator and 1991 Palomar J.C. Grid-Wire All-American Andy Buh, shut down Boston College's offense and allowed the Wolf Pack to finish the season 13-1 with a 20-13 win Sunday evening in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl at AT&T Park.

The WAC co-champion Wolf Pack, which ended Boise State's win streak in the next-to-last game of the regular season, included three former Comets (junior safety Chris Boudreaux, sophomore safety Dean Faddis (right) and senior receiver Maurice "Mo" Patterson).

Faddis made a big tackle on punt coverage in the fourth quarter to pin the Eagles deep in their own territory.

Player Team Bowl / Playoffs
Chris Boudreaux Nevada Fight Hunger Bowl
Dean Faddis Nevada Fight Hunger Bowl
Maurice Patterson Nevada Fight Hunger Bowl
Caleb Evans - x Arkansas Sugar Bowl
Jared Bamber Middle Tennessee Bowl
Martavious Lee - x Utah Las Vegas Bowl
Leilyon Meyers UTEP New Mexico Bowl
Orenzo Davis Montana State FCS (1-AA) Playoffs
Tyler Lorenzen - xx New Orleans Saints NFL Playoffs
x - Injured / xx - Practice Team

Palomar quarterback Nate Ong passes behind his offensive line vs. Cerritos. -- Photo by Hugh Cox

Quarterback Nate Ong signs with Old Dominion

SAN MARCOS (1-8-11) -- Old Dominion University has come in at the 11th hour and signed Palomar quarterback Nate Ong, who had seen expected offers from Iowa State and Akron de-materialize at the last minute.

Ong will transfer later this month to Old Dominion, a Division I Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) school in Norfolk, Virginia. He received a full scholarship and will participate in spring ball for the Monarchs, who are coming off an 8-3 season.

Ong, who passed for 3,966 yards and 33 touchdowns for Palomar the past two seasons, said he was ready to sign with Division II Western New Mexico when Old Dominion offensive coordinator Brian Scott contacted him on Jan. 2.

"It's a great situation for Nate," said Palomar quarterbacks coach Cody Tefethen. "They run a spread offense very similar to what we run. And Nate is not a Division II quarterback."

The Monarchs passed for 258.7 yards per game during the recent season.

Ong, who split time with current New Mexico State starter Matt Christian in 2009, threw for 1,876 yards and 15 touchdown for Palomar as a red-shirt freshman as the Comets went 10-3, were ranked No. 8 in the nation by the J.C. Grid Wire and advanced to the Southern California championship game.

He overcame an injury to pass for 2,090 yards and 16 touchdowns in nine games for the 2010 Comets.

Ong quarterbacked Palomar to a near-upset against eventual state and national champion Mt. SAC. The Comets finally lost to the Mounties 20-17 on Oct. 16 in Walnut.

Ong finished the 2010 season by throwing for 338 yards and three touchdowns vs. Saddleback on the road and coming back the next week to pass for 314 yards and five touchdowns in a 43-35 win over rival Grossmont to close out the year at home.

Scott, Old Dominion's offensive coordinator who recruits Southern California for the Monarchs, contacted Ong on his Facebook page.

"I gave him my (cell) number and he called me within two minutes," Ong said. Literally within days, Ong went from having a partial scholarship to a D-II school to a full scholarship at Old Dominion.

"I'm super excited," Ong said.

An added bonus for Ong: His sister is a professor at the University of Virginia, which is located 2 hours, 53 minutes from Old Dominion, in Charlottesville.

Saints re-sign former Palomar QB Lorenzen

METAIRIE, Lousiana (12-20-10) -- The defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints have re-signed 2006 Palomar first-team J.C. Grid-Wire All-American quarterback Tyler Lorenzen to their practice squad.

The 6-foot-5, 234-pound Lorenzen, a former California Community College Offensive Player of the Year, switched to tight end when he originally signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars after his senior season at the University of Connecticut, where he was a two-year starter at QB. He spent last season on the Saints' practice squad before earning a Super Bowl ring. He had a strong 2010 pre-season with the Saints but was among the last group of players to get cut on Sept. 4 of this year..

ABOVE: Defensive left end Zach Gholson, pictured recovering a fumble against Pasadena City College and hauling down an El Camino College ball-carrier, was named Palomar's MVP on Wednesday. -- Photos by Hugh Cox. BELOW LEFT: Gholson, who also was honored at Defensive Player of the Year. BELOW RIGHT:: Defensive right end, Richie Ma'atafa, who received the Kevin Kelly Award.

Gholson is honored as Palomar's team MVP

SAN MARCOS (12-2-10) --  Zach Gholson, the 6-foot-4, 250-pound defensive end who was the heart and soul of Palomar's 2010 defense, was honored as the Comets' team MVP on Wednesday during the college's awards luncheon at Hometown Buffet.

Assistant coach Ron Rockett, a former Palomar Team MVP who went on to make All-Mountain West Conference at safety for the University of Wyoming and played in NFL Europe, presented the award to Gholson.

Gholson (La Costa Canyon High School / Boise State) also was honored as Defensive Player of the Year. The big-play Gholson finished with 69 tackles (34 solo), 4 tackles for losses, 3 sacks, 6 quarterback hurries, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble. He also intercepted a two-point conversion pass, which doesn't show up in the statistical totals.

Gholson played in nine of Palomar's 10 games, missing one game due to an injury.

Running back / kick returner Tyrese Jones (sophomore, Miami Northwestern High School ) was Co-MVP, while receiver Jevon Reynolds (sophomore, Denver South High) was named Offensive Player of the Year.

Steve Steiner (sophomore offensive tackle, Vista Murrieta High School in Murrieta) was Lineman of the Year.

Nate Ong (sophomore quarterback, San Pasqual High) was named offensive captain, while Casey Malauulu (sophomore linebacker, El Camino High) was defensive captain.

Richie Maata'afa (sophomore, Temecula Chaparral High), the Comets' 5-foot-11, 230-pound defensive end opposite Gholson, received the prestigious Kevin Kelly award. The award is named for the one-time undersized Palomar J.C. Grid-Wire All-American honorable mention linebacker who went on to become a Division II All-American and died of cancer during what would have been his senior season at Eastern New Mexico University.

Special teams awards went to Tynan Murray (sophomore, Poway High), James McNally (sophomore, Escondido High) and sophomore Clinton Parker Calvin Christian High).

Tala Meyers (sophomore linebacker, Oceanside High) won the team grade-point average award.

The Most Improved Player was Keith Alpichi (sophomore linebacker / defensive end, Temecula Great Oak High). Brad Castleberry (sophomore fullback, Vista High) was Most Inspirational.

Coaches' Awards were presented to Xavier McGinnis (sophomore running back, Oviedo High in Oviedo, FL), Myers, Pat Cashman (sophomore slot receiver / punt returner, Mountain View High in Bend, OR), Cory Bitting (sophomore safety, Fallbrook High) and Mike Dobbins (sophomore guard / center, Mission Hills High).

All-Southern California Football Association National Division Southern Conference first- and second-team awards were presented to Jones, Steiner, Dobbins and Dallas Butler (freshman tight end, Mission Hills High) on offense; and Gholson, Mata'afa, Adam Witzmann (freshman linebacker, La Costa Canyon High), Meyers, Devin Willis (sophomore corner, Miami Northwestern High) and Devin Taverna (freshman safety, Oceanside High) on defense.

Robert Luth (sophomore tight end and special teams player, Mission Hills High) received the "Above and Beyond" award for overcoming obstacles to make major contributions.

The Kodak Award for scout team players went to gray-shirt linebacker Junior Tufuga.

1960s era Palomar coach Pagakis dead at 85

ESCONDIDO (12-5-10) --  Chris Pagakis, Palomar's head football coach during the 1963 and 1964 seasons, died on Nov. 28 at Palomar Medical Center. He was 85.

Pagakis, a long-time Vista resident, was an assistant at Palomar under Stu Carter in 1962, when the Comets went 7-2, allowing only one opponent to score more than eight points. After he was elevated to head coach the following season upon Carter's departure, Pagakis' teams went 5-4 and 3-6 in two seasons.

Pagakis later was Palomar's head men's soccer coach in the 1970s and '80s. Current Comet soccer coach Carlos Hernandez played for Pagakis.

Prior to joining Carter's Palomar staff, Pagakis was an assistant under Pat Mongoven at Vista High School. In 1960, the first year of the CIF San Diego Section, the Panthers upset Escondido, coached by the legendary Chick Embrey, 18-0 in the season opener. Vista lost to Mount Miguel in the first-ever San Diego Section small schools (Class 1A) finals, while the Cougars went on to win the first-ever section large schools (Class 2A) title with their only loss coming to the Panthers..

Pagakis, a native of Chicago where he starred at Parker High School, played college football at the University of Illinois. He was a halfback on the 1950 Fighting Illini team that was ranked as high as No. 8 in the nation and upset No. 1-ranked Ohio State 14-7 on Nov. 18 at Champagne-Urbana, IL

Pagakis graduated from the University of Illinois in 1951.

Palomar ranked No. 26 in U.S. by

LAKE FOREST (11-30-10) -- ranks Palomar, despite its 5-5 record, No. 26 in the country in community college football.

Mt. SAC, the defending mythical national champion which plays in the powerful Southern Conference along with the Comets, is ranked No. 1. Mt. SAC held off Palomar 20-17 in October at Walnut.

The Mounties (12-0) defeated Cerritos 51-0 in the Southern California championship game on Saturday and will host City College of San Francisco in the CCCAA state championship game on Saturday afternoon.

Butler (Kansas) is ranked No. 2, San Francisco No. 3, Navarro (Texas) No. 4, Grand Rapids (Michigan) No. 5, Arizona Western No. 6, Gulf Coast (Mississippi) No. 7, Snow (Utah) No. 8,
Copiah-Lincoln (Mississippi) No. 9 and Foothill No. 10).

Last season the Comet were ranked No. 8 nationally by the J.C. Grid-Wire / of Seattle after going 10-3 and falling to Mt. SAC in the Southern California championship game.

Comet connection celebrates win over Boise

PHOTOS: Nevada safety Chris "Bubba" Boudreaux ( left), Nevada safety Dean Faddis (right), Arizona State starting offensive right tacdkle Brice Schwab (below)

RENO, Nevada (11-26-10) --  The University of Nevada, with its sizeable Palomar connection, pulled off the Upset of the Year in college football on Friday night.

The Wolf Pack shocked Boise State 34-31 in overtime and ruined the Broncos' chances of advancing to the BCS national championship game.

Ex-Comets Chris Boudreaux and Dean Faddis both saw action at safety and on special teams as Nationally No. 19-ranked Nevada, which is 11-1 on the season with its only loss coming against Hawaii in Honolulu, snapped No. 3 Boise State's 24-game winning streak.

The Wolf Pack will try to finish the regular-season 12-1 when they play at Louisiana Tech next Saturday. The Broncos, who hadn't lost since falling to TCU in the 2008 Holiday Bowl, fell to 10-1.

Palomar's Nevada connection is made up of:

-- Junior safety Chris Boudreaux, who started the Wolf Pack's season opener against Eastern Washington, had seven tackles and a sack but suffered a broken thumb in the game. Since returning to action, Boudreaux has played safety in various defensive packages and plays on most of Nevada's special teams. He has 16 tackles on the season, four coming last week in a 52-6 victory over New Mexico State.

-- Sophomore safety Dean Faddis sees extensive action at safety and on special teams and has 26 tackles, a broken-up pass and a forced fumble.

-- Senior receiver Maurice Patterson has caught eight passes for 72 yards for the Wolf Pack.

-- First-year defensive coordinator Andy Buh was a two-year starter at linebacker for Palomar in 1991, when he played on the Comets J.C. Grid-Wire national championship team, and 2002 when he was a Grid-Wire first-team All-American. His previous coaching stops have included stints at Nevada, Cal, San Diego State Fresno State and Stanford, where he was co-defensive coordinator before returning to Nevada.

Faddis and Boudreaux are both looking to start next season and thus follow in the footsteps of ex-Comet Mike Bethea, who played for Nevada in 2008 and 2009 and was the Wolf Pack's second-leading tackler last season at linebacker.

The defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints brought Bethea to mini-camp prior to the current season. When he did not stick with the team, Bethea returned to the University of Nevada where he's finishing work on his degree.


Junior 6-foot-7, 345-pound  Brice Schwab is the starting offensive right tackle for Arizona State, which ended UCLA's chances for a six-win season, which would make it bowl eligible, by destroying the Bruins 55-34 on Friday night in Tempe, Arizona.

Schwab was previously the Sun Devils' starting left tackle, was briefly demoted to second string after their loss to No. 1 Oregon, but since has resurfaced as their starter at right tackle.

Schwab was ranked as the best community college offensive line prospect in the country a year ago. He initially committed verbally to USC, then de-committed in December when coach Pete Carroll resigned .

Schwab cancelled a trip to Oklahoma and transferred to ASU during winter break., leaving a surprised UCLA coach Rick Neuhelsel, who didn't realize Schwab had already left for Arizona State, scurrying around Palomar in a rainstorm searching for him.


Caleb Evans, a 6-foot-4, 254-pound junior, is a defensive end at Arkansas, which is 10-2, ranked No. 12, defeat No. 6 LSU 31-26 on Saturday and is hoping for a BCS bid.


Note: Arkansas has moved to No. 8 and Nevada to No. 14 in the Associated Press poll. In the USA Today Coaches Poll, Arkansas had moved to No. 8 and Nevada to No. 13.

Player Pos. College
Brice Schwab OT Arizona State
Chris Boudreaux FS Nevada
Dean Faddis SS Nevada
Maurice Patterson WR Nevada
Caleb Evans DE Arkansas
Anthony Young FS Iowa State
Leilyon Meyers RB UTEP
Matt Christian QB New Mexico State
Sam Tupua C/G Idaho
Jared Bamber TE Middle Tennessee State
Martavious Lee WR Utah (medical red-shirt)
Paul Moore WR Florida Atlantic
Nate Paopao LB Eastern Michigan
Orenzo Davis RB Montana State
Arthur Williams TE Georgia State
Tyler Levea RB Murray State
Mao Lefiti DE South Dakota State
Matt Segi MLB Portland State
Alika Valesi DE Portland State
Shane Melbo LB Portland State
Justin Klingerman OT Old Dominion
John Middlemas OLB Eastern Kentucky (red-shirt)
Tyler Seau MLB Delta State
Jamar Fleming DT Morgan State
Jack Dill OT Concord
Mike Tuimavave C Northeastern State
Jordan Peiler DT Tennessee-Martin
Chris Calvert CB Tennessee-Martin
Salim Hakim WR Tarleton State
Corinthian Gray CB Norhwood
Abu Jalil OG New Mexico Highlands
Joey Erickson QB Tabor
Marquis Leama RB Tabor
David Motu MLB Nihon University (Japan)













ABOVE: Devin Taverna hurdles a Grossmont player on his 47-yard interception return on the game's final play. BELOW LEFT: Ong completes a pass to Jevon Reynolds (3).. BELOW RIGHT: Casey Malauulu pressures Grossmont quarterback Ryan Woods.  -- Photos by Hugh Cox

Ong (314 yards, 5 TDs), Comets beat Grossmont

ESCONDIDO (11-13-10) -- Sophomore quarterback Nate Ong , playing his final game for Palomar, went out in style on Saturday afternoon at Wilson Stadium against rival Grossmont.

So did the Comets' team, who faced constant adversity in the form of numerous injuries during the season but closed out a 5-5 year with a 43-35 Southern Conference victory over the Griffins at Wilson Stadium.

Ong connected on 23 of 32 pass attempts with one interception for 314 yards and five touchdowns.

In Palomar's final two games, last week vs. Saddleback and on Saturday, Ong threw for a combined 652 yards and eight TDs.

Three of his TDs against Grossmont went to Jevon Reynolds, for 8 yards in the first quarter, 27 yards in the third quarter and 28 yards with 3:26 left in the game which gave the Comets a 43-28 lead and clinched the victory.

Reynolds finished the day with four receptions for 100 yards in his final game at Palomar.

The Comets' other touchdowns came on a 31-yard pass from Ong to Andre Uptgrow, a 30-yard pass from Ong to Mikey Head and a 4-yard run by Armani Taylor. Roman Ferreria kicked a 33-yard field goal and four extra points.

Nick Ricciardulli returned to the Palomar lineup after an injury and rushed for a net 85 tough yards on 20 carries.

Casey Malauulu led Palomar defensively with 10 tackles, eight solo.

Devin Taverna had seven tackles, a pass break-up and an interception and 47-yard return on the last play of the game.

Devin Willis,  Keith Alpichi and Zach Gholson each contributed six tackles.

Palomar had a touchdown called back.

"With all the injuries during the season and resulting constant changes in personnel groups, I'm reallhy proud of these guys," coach Joe Early said.

Grossmont finished 6-4, including a forfeit win over El Camino after losing to the Warriors on the field.. The Comets were 2-3 in the Southern Conference, the Griffins 1-4.


ABOVE: Running back Thomas Worden, a two-time all-state selection from Mentor High School in Mentor, Ohio, goes up the middle through a hole created by his offensive line against Saddleback last week. -- Photo by Hugh Cox. BELOW LEFT: Offensive tackle Steve Steiner. BELOW RIGHT: Center Mike Dobbins. Both will be playing for the final time for the Comets. 

Comets will try to go out in style vs. Grossmont

ESCONDIDO (11-12-10) -- Palomar has had its share of great moments during the 2010 football season, but not in small measure to injury after injury after injury, the Comets have suffered through a much larger share of frustration.

The Comets will have an opportunity, though, to go out in style on Saturday at 1 p.m. when they host rival Grossmont at Wilson Stadium on the Escondido High School campus in their final game of the season.

Palomar and Grossmont are traditionally the top two teams in San Diego County and so is the case again this year. The Comets never lost to the Griffins from 1987 until the last two years, when the Griffins have won.

"It's another challenge," coach Joe Early said. "Their playing for a chance at a bowl bid. We're playing for pride and bragging rights. We have to be focused and we have to execute. We want to finish the way we started (with a victgory over Southwestern back when the Comets were reasonably healty). We've gone through a lot of adversity and we want to finish strong."

The Comets are healthier than they have been in weeks, and one of the key players coming off the injured list today will be running back Nick Ricciardulli, who was hurt in a 20-17 near-upset loss to defending national community college champion and nationally no. 1-ranked Mt. SAC on Oct. 26.

The Match-Up: Grossmont (6-3 including forfeit win over El Camino, 1-3 National Conference) at Palomar (4-5, 1-3 National Conference)
Day, Date, Time: Saturday, Nov. 13, 1 p.m.
Site: Wilson Stadium, Escondido High School
Radio: KKSM-1320 AM;  Cox Digital Cable Channel 958;
Last Year's Score: Grossmont 29, Nationally 8th-ranked Palomar 26
Probable Palomar Starters
Nate Ong 6-3  210 So San Pasqual
Other Notables: David Fisher -- Vista / Nevada; Tynan Murray -- Poway / Cal Poly / San Diego Mesa CC; (Game-time decision due to injury)
Tyrese Jones 5-8  195 So Miami Northwestern (Miami, FL)
Nick Ricciardulli 5-8  181 So Poway / Humboldt State
Thomas Worden 5-11  195 Fr Mentor (Mentor, OH)
Other Notable: Xavier McGinniss -- Oviedo (Oviedo, FL); Armani Taylor-- Oceanside
Bradley Castleberry 5-9  245 So Vista
Geoff Akpom 6-4  210 So Mt. Carmel / MT. SAC
Other Notable: Andre Uptgrow -- Carol City (Miami Gardens, FL)
Nigel Westbrooks 6-2  180 Fr Mission Hills
Other Notable: Kyle Greenwood (Scripps Ranch)
Jevon Reynolds 6-0  180 So Denver South (Denver, CO)
Pat Cashman 6-0  175 So Mountain View (Bend, OR)
Mikey Head 5-9  170 So Ramona
Steven Steiner 6-7  325 So Vista Murrieta (Murrieta)
Other Notable: Jeremy Garner -- San Pasqual
Aaron Wofford 6-4  315 Fr La Costa Canyon
Other Notable: Josh Bell -- East Bernard (East Bernard, TX)
Jose Zuniga 6-1  270 Fr San Marcos
Other Notable: Mike Dobbins -- Mission Hills
Mike Dobbins 6-4  270 So Mission Hills
Other Notable: Josh Kaliskas -- Ramona
Hayden Morehead 6-8  310 So Montezuma-Cortez (Cortez, CO)
Other Notable: Jeremy Garner --San Pasqual
Dallas Butler 6-0  200 Fr Mission Hills
Cory Soto 6-8  235 Fr La Costa Canyon
Other Notable: Robert Luth -- Mission Hills
Zach Gholson 6-4  250 So La Costa Canyon / Boise State
Other Notable: David Moodie -- Calvary Murrieta (Murrieta)
Richie Mata'afa 5-11  230 So Chaparral (Temecula)
Other Notable: Carson Paopao -- Notre Dame Cathlic (Burlington, Ontario, Canada)
J.J. Sio 6-3  300 Fr Fedral Way (Federal Way, WA)
Other Notable: David Watkins -- Chaparral (Temecula); Fanu Loau -- Los Angeles
Travis Washburn 6-4  270 Fr Rancho Buena Vista
Other Notables: Reggie McGrue -- Poway;  Anthony Occhipinti -- Great Oak (Temecula);
Tanner Hix 5-10  210 So Ramona
Other Notable: Talas Meyers -- Oceanside
Casey Malauulu 6-1  235 So El Camino
Other Notables: Adam Wittman -- La Costa Canyon
Keith Alpichi 5-10  220 So Great Oak (Temecula)
Other Notable: Ezra Latu -- Murrieta Valley (Murrieta)
Devin Willis 5-10 170 So Miami Northwestern (Miami, FL)
Other Notables: E.J. Ross -- Bakersfield; Branden Green -- Ranier (Seattle, WA) / Central Washington; Josh Jacko -- Cathedral Catholic
Brandon Green 6-1  180 So Rnier (Seattle, WA) / Central Washington University
Brandon Joseph 5-9  150 Fr Miami Northwestern (Miami, FL)
Other Notables: E.J. Ross -- Bakersfield; Josh Jacko -- Cathedral Catholic
Ronnie Kuan 5-10  185 Fr Chaparral (Temecula)
Other Notable: Cory Bitting -- Fallbrook
Devin Taverna 6-1  190 Fr Oceanside
Roman Ferreria 5-7  150 So Cathedral Catholic / Whittier College
Roman Ferreria 5-7  150 So Cathedral Catholic / Whittier College
Shaheen Pourfallah 5-11  210 Wo Scripps Ranch / San Jose State
Other Notable: Clinton Parker -- Calvin Christian
Shaheen Pourfallah 5-11  210 Wo Scripps Ranch / San Jose State
Other Notable: Pat Cashman -- Mountain View (Bend, OR)
James McNally 6-3  230 So Escondido
Tyrese Jones 5-8  195 So Miami Northwestern (Miami, FL)
Xavier McGinniss 5-9  175 So Oviedo (Oviedo, FL)
Other Notables: Nick Ricciardulli -- Poway; Nigel Westbrook (Mission Hills)
Pat Cashman 6-0  175 So Mountain View (Bend, OR)
Other Notable: Mikey Head -- Ramolna
Kenny York 6-1  240 Fr Escondido
Other Notable: Rocco Hemphill -- Ramona; Shaheen Pourfallah -- Scripps Ranch / San Jose State





ABOVE: Pat Cashman slips out of grasp of Saddleback's Temeni Brewster (2) as he returns a punt a punt 42 yards to the Gauchos' 16-yard line to set up a touchdown in the second quarter. -- Photos by Hugh Cox. BELOW LEFT: Quarterback Nate Ong, who passed for 338 yards and three touchdowns. BELOW RIGHT: Nigel Westbrooks, who caught six passes for 101 yards.

Ong: 338 yds., 3 TDs in 1,042-yd. shootout loss

MISSION VIEJO (11-6-10) -- On a night in which Palomar and nationally 18th-ranked Saddleback combined for 91 points, 1,042 offensive yards and 58 first downs on Saturday, Comet quarterback Nate Ong made his best argument for a big-time scholarship.

The Comets finally lost the 3-hour, 46-minute marathon 53-38, but not before Ong completed 23 of 40 passes with 0 interceptions for 338 yards and three touchdowns. He hooked up with Nigel Westbrooks on a 52-yard scoring play and with Geoff Akpom for TD plays of 35 and 41 yards.

Ong left the game with a minor injury in the fourth quarter. Tynan Murray came  in at quarterback and threw for 45 yards, going 4-for-7 before he was shaken up on a play and left in favor of the Comets' third quarterback, David Fisher.

The Gauchos' Sean Reilly was 31-for-50, also with 0 interceptions,  for 405 yards and three TDs in the wild offensive game.

Ong left the game with a minor injury in the fourth quarter. Tynan Moore came  in at quarterback and threw for 45 yards, going 4-for-7 before he was shaken up on a play and left in favor of the Comets' third quarterback, David Fisher.

When it was all over, Saddleback had advanced to 7-2, 3-1 in the Southern Conference. Palomar, meanwhile, will try to close out its season at 5-5 next Saturday afternoon at Escondido's Wilson Stadium with a victory over Grossmont.

The Comets took early leads of 7-0 on Tyrese Jones' 3-yard touchdown run to cap a 10-play, 65-yard drive with the opening kickoff as Ong efficiently moved them down the field, and 14-6 on Armani Taylor's 2-yard TD run in the second quarter.

Then the Gauchos scored 19 straight points, nine of them on three of Michael Frisina's four field goals, and the two teams answered back and forth the rest of the night. Twice, Saddleback scored on the first play from scrimmage following Palomar touchdowns.

Saddleback led 19-14 at halftime after scoring on a short pass with 34 seconds remaining in the second quarter to overcome a 14-13 Palomar lead. It was the Gauchos' firwst lead of the game.

The Comets had plenty of big performances besides Ong's, including:

  • Westbrooks' six receptions for 101 yards and 1 touchdown and Akpom's four catches for 99 yards and the 2 TDs.

  • Three catches each by Mikey Head (for 40 yards), Pat Cashman (for 37 yards) and Jevon Reynolds. Cashman, who had two punt returns for 52 yards, broke a tackle as he received a punt which he returned it 42 yards to the Saddleback 16 to set up the 2-yard second-quarter  touchdown run by Armani Taylor.

  • Jones' seven kickoff returns for 193 yards.

  • Devin Taverna's and Keith Alpichi's 10 tackles each (including 6 solo tackles each). Also on the defensive side of the ball, 8 tackles by Ronnie Kuan, 6 tackles and 1 pass break-up by Devin Willis and 5 tackles each by Adam Witzmann, Zach Gholson and Dutch Hapgood and 2 tackles for losses, 1 sack and 1 quarterback hurry by Richie Mata'afa.

Gholson also intercepted a pass on a 2-point conversion attempt, which doesn't show up in the regular game stats, and a QB hurry (which does).


ABOVE: Zach Gholson, shown recovering a fumbled snap from center last Saturday in Palomar's 17-10 victory at Pasadena City College, plays a key role at defensive end. No. 12 is PCC quarterback Caleb Fore. -- Photo by Hugh Cox. BELOW: Running back / kickoff returner Nick Ricciardulli, who returns from the injured list Saturday after being hurt in the Comets' 25-21 loss to nationally top-ranked Mt. SAC on Oct. 16.

Nationally 8th-ranked Saddleback is up next

MISSION VIEJO (11-5-10) -- Palomar pretty much ruined Saddleback's season a year ago when the Comets went on the road the next-to-last game of the regular season and beat the Gauchos 27-21.

That knocked Saddleback out of the playoffs and put Palomar into the playoffs, where the Comets eliminated both Cerritos and Fullerton before finally losing in the Southern California championship game to eventual state and national champion Mt. SAC.

In the next-to-last game of 2010, the Comets will be back at Saddleback College Field Saturday at 6 p.m. to try to play havoc with the Gauchos' season again. Saddleback comes in 6-2, 2-1 in the Southern Conference, rated the nation's toughest, and is ranked No. 8 in the nation by the J.C. Grid-Wire after losing to No. 1 Mt. SAC 33-31 last week.

Palomar fell to Mt. SAC 20-17 on Oct. 16 in Walnut.

There will be no playoff appearance for Palomar this yearn, but the Comets can assure themselves of a bowl bid by beating Saddleback on Saturday evening and Grossmont to close out the regular season a week from Saturday afternoon at home at Wilson Stadium in Escondido.

Ferreria is Southern Conference Player of Week

LONG BEACH (11-3-10) --  Palomar sophomore kicker Roman Ferreria has been selected as Special Teams Player of the Week for the Southern California Football; Association's Southern Conference.

Ferreria, a Cathedral Catholic High School product, kicked a 36-yard field goal on his only attempt of lthe night, was 2-for-2 on PATs and kicked off four times for a 66.5-yard average in Saturday's 17-10 victory at Pasadena City College.


ABOVE: Palomar's Mikey Head makes a spectacular reception on a Nate Ong pass that went for a 38 yards and a first down at the 50 to set up Roman Ferreria's field goal.. The ball bounced off Pasadena's Jerry Dixon's (No. 19) shoulder pads. ABOVE LEFT: Pasadena's Charles Tua'au grabs Tyrese Jones' facemask  ABOVE RIGHT: Robert Luth recovers a fumbled punt to set up the winning touchdown. -- Photos by Hugh Cox. BOTTOM LEFT: Zach Gholson, who led the Comets' big defensive effort. BOTTOM RIGHT: Dallas Butler, who caught the winning TD pass from Ong with 5:54 left in the game.

Huge game by Gholson, pass to Butler win it

PASADENA (10-30-10) -- A monster game by defensive end Zach Gholson, a key recovery of a fumbled punt by Robert Luth and a 10-yard touchdown pass from Nate Ong to wide-open tight end Dallas Butler propelled Palomar to a 17-10 road football victory over Pasadena City College on Saturday night.  

Gholson, the Boise State transfer who has become more dominant with each passing week, short-circuited the Lancers' speed-driven offense all evening long with 11 tackles (eight solo), 2.5 tackles for losses, a fumble recovery and 1.5 sacks.

With the game tied at 10-10, Luth recovered DaMonte Bell's fumble of Rocco Hemphill's 38-yard punt at the Pasadena 40. The Comets drove 40 yards in eight plays and scored the winning touchdown from the 10 with 5:54 to play when Ong threw to Butler coming across the middle of the end zone, his second TD pass of the game..

"They double-teamed a wide receiver and the other tight end," said Butler of the winning TD, which came out of a two tight-end set. "I was wide open. There was no one near me. I was all by myself."

After Roman Ferreria's kickoff down to the PCC 3-yard line and Danny Robinson's 19-yard return out to the 22, the Comets held forced the Lancers to punt. Adam Witzmann sacked Pasadena quarterback Caleb Fore for a 5-yard loss on third down.

Punt returner Pat Cashman's alert sprint out to the 50-yard line to fair catch an 18-yard kick by Brian Gonzalez saved Palomar valuable field position and that's where the Comets took over with 3:01 top play.

But Tyrese Jones fumbled on Palomar's first play from scrimmage, and Pasadena's Kealil Latuselu recovered at the Comets' 34.

Palomar's defense rose up again, as it had all night long. The Comets took over on downs at their own 30 after back-to-back tackles by David Watkins and Witzmann for inconsequential yardage on second-and-third downs and Tala Meyers' break-up of an attempted Fore-to-Robinson pass on fourth down.

On the first play from scrimmage, Jones (135 yards rushing on 24 carries) took a hand-off from Ong out of a tight, double-tight end set and raced 66 yards to the Pasadena 4-yard line, where he was hauled down by Palomar transfer Tevin McCaskill.

The Comets ran out the clock on a dive play into the line and a take-a-knee play by Ong on the final play.

Pasadena (4-4, 0-3 in the Southern Conference) had driven 78 yards with the game's opening kickoff to go on top 7-0. Palomar tied it up on a 4-yard touchdown pass from Ong to Jevon Reynolds Ferreira's PAT kick with 5:00 left in the first quarter.

Ong set up the TD with three straight completions to Geoff Akpom, Reynolds and Cashman which covered a cumulative 52 yards down to the PCC 7.

The Lancers' Gonzalez and Ferreira traded field goals of 33 and 36 yards in the second and third quarters, respectfully. That made it 10-10 and set the stage for the winning touchdown drive.

Mikey Head, who made a spectacular grab at the 50 of a 31-yard pass from Ong that bounced off a PCC defender's shoulder pads. The catch came on the drive that resulted in Ferreria's field goal, Akpom and Cashman had three receptions each for a combined 97 yards for the Comets.

Meyers (6 tackles, 5 solo, 2 tackles for losses, 1 pass break-up and 1 sack), Witzmann (8 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 sack), Richie Mata'afa (7 tackles, 3.5 tackles for losses, 1 sack), Dutch Hapgood (6 solo tackles, 2 tackles for losses), Devin Willis (6 solo tackles) and Reggie McGrue (6 tackles, 0.5 sacks) joined Gholson with big defensive games. Gholson had a big fumble recovery with just under 5 minutes left.

Palomar will take records of 4-4 on the season, 1-2 in conference to Saddleback next Saturday evening. The Gauchos lost 32-31 to nationally top-ranked Mt. SAC on Saturday night when they failed on a two-point conversion on the last play of the game.


ABOVE: Quarterback Tynan Murray runs for a first down against Fullerton College last week. -- Photo by Hugh Cox. BELOW LEFT: Nate Ong, who will start at QB coming off an injury. Both he and Murray will play.

Comets visit talented Pasadena on Saturday

PASADENA (10-29-10) -- Two teams who are better than their records will be looking to right their seasons heading into the home stretch will square off on Saturday when Palomar travels to Pasadena City College for a 6 p.m. National Conference match-up.

The Comets enter the game with records of 3-4 on the year and 0-2 in the National Division after tough back-to-back losses to nationally No. 1-ranked and defending national champion Mt. SAC (by three points two weeks ago) and No. 26 Fullerton (by five points last week).

The Lancers, who won their first four games, come in 4-3 and 0-2.

"Pasadena is very athletic and has outstanding speed," Palomar coach Joe Early said. "They're ready to get back on track. We'd better be ready to get back on track too. We've got to come out and play well."

Nate Ong, who was injured in the Mt. SAC game and missed last week's game, will return to Palomar's starting lineup against PCC. Tynan Murray, who was responsible for all three Comet touchdowns vs. Fullerton (two by passing, one by running) also will see heavy action at QB.

ABOVE: E.J. Johnson (21) recovers a muffed punt against Fullerton on Saturday night. BELOW LEFT: Brandon Green breaks up a Fullerton pass in the end zone. -- Photos by Hugh Cox. BELOW RIGHT: Quarterback Tynan Murray, who rushed for two of Palomar's three touchdowns and passed the other in his first start.

Palomar wastes big starting debut by Murray

ESCONDIDO (10-23-10) -- Tynan Murray, making his first start of the season at quarterback in place of the injured Nate Ong, played an unforgettable game for Palomar against Fullerton on Saturday evening.

The outcome for the Comets, however? It couldn't have been more forgettable.

The Hornets, trailing 14-3 midway through the second quarter and 21-20 midway through the fourth quarter, came back to win the Southern Conference match-up 26-21 at Wilson Stadium, scoring the winning touchdown with 7:02 to play on a 16-yard pass from Darius Banks to Lavon Davis.

Murray, out of Poway High School and a transfer from San Diego Mesa, ran for two touchdowns and passed for another but the Comets found themselves with their backs to the wall trying to get into a bowl game entering the last three weeks of the season.

Murray finished the night with 108 NET yards rushing on 12 carries and 146 yards passing on 15 completions in 27 attempts.

He gave Palomar (3-4, 0-2 in the Southern Conference) a 7-0 lead with a five yard touchdown run with 10:13 left in the first quarter. He gave the Comets a 14-3 lead with 7:09 left in the half on an 11-yard touchdown pass to Jevon Reynolds.

And Murray broke off a 54-yard TD run with 2:08 left in the third quarter that, along with Roman Ferreira's third conversion of the night, brought the Comets back from a 6-point deficit and put them back on top 21-20.

"But I'd trade it all for a win. Believe me," Murray answered coach Joe Early when he congratulated him on what Early described as a "great" game."

Said Early about Murray in a post-game interview in the North County Times: "That guy's amazing. He put the team on his back with some of the things he did. After he scored, he was snapping on puns and PATs. I have the utmost respect for what he was able to do."

But they were unable to hold on as Fullerton moved to 5-2, 2-0.

Tyrese Jones rushed for 76 yards on 18 carries for the Comets and returned four kickoffs for 107 yards. Nigel Westbrooks (3 catches for 65 yards), Jevon Reynolds (3 receptions for 35 yards and a touchdown), Dallas Butler (two catches for 17 yards, Geoff Adams (two catches for 17 yards) and Pat Cashman (two receptions for 9 yards) all had multiple receptions.

Defensive end Zach Gholson led Palomar defensively with nine tackles, eight of them solo, 0.5 tackles for losses and 0.5 sacks. Other defensive leaders for the Comets were Tala Meyers (7 tackles, 6 solo, 2 tackles for losses), Devin Taverna (7 tackles, 6 solo), Devin Willis (6 tackles, 5 solo, 2 pass break-ups) and Adam Witzmann 6 tackles, 1 tackle for loss , 1 quarterback hurry).

Keith Alpichi intercepted a pass.

The game was a rematch of last season's Southern California semi-finals, won by the Comets 38-36 in three overtimes at Cal State Fullerton's Titan Stadium.


COMETS COME UP A YARD SHORT TWICE AND LOSE  -- North County Times, 10/24/10

ABOVE: Linebacker Clinton Parker, who plays a big role on special teams, returns a short kickoff for 10 yards against Cerritos. Other Comets on the kickoff return team in the picture: James McNally (10), Jason Klingerman (36), Dallas Butler (82) and Xavier McGinniss (22). -- Photo by Hugh Cox. BELOW LEFT: Pat Cashman, who plays slot receiver, returns punts and holds on kicks, is a key for the Comets on offense and special teams. BELOW RIGHT: Tynan Murray, a 7-foot-1 high jumper who will make his first start at quarterback for the injured Nate Ong.

Comets will host familiar foe Saturday night

ESCONDIDO (10-21-10) -- Palomar, facing a "must win" situation in an effort to keep its hopes alive in the Southern Conference, will renew one of its most intense rivalries when the Comets host Fullerton on Saturday evening at Escondido High School's Wilson Stadium.

Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m.

"If this is anything like our last two games against them, it will be really entertaining," said Comets coach Joe Carly.

The Comets and Hornets played twice last season. Fullerton held off Palomar 20-17 in a regular-season game in Escondido on Halloween night. The Comets returned the favor 38-36 in three overtimes in the Southern California semifinals in November at Cal State Fullerton.

Palomar is coming off back-to-back games which the Comets beat El Camino, ranked No. 8 in the nation at the time, 25-21 and dropped a 20-17 near-upset decision  to Mt. SAC, which is the defending national champion and is ranked No. 1 in the nation, both on the road. Palomar had the ball and all the momentum late in the fourth quarter against the Mounties after coming back from a 20-3 deficit -- but was unable to quite get over the hump.

"We've got to go in there with the same conviction we played with against Mt. SAC," Early said. "When you play Fullerton," he added, referring to the Hornets' penchant for trick plays in just about every kind of situation, especially on punts and kick returns, "you've got to expect the unexpected."

Fullerton rocked Pasadena City College 56-28 last Saturday.

The Comets will have two new starters in the offensive backfield. Tynan Murray gets his first start of the season at quarterback with Nate Ong listed as "doubtful" due to an injury. Tyrese Jones will be at tailback in place of Nick Riccardulli, who was hurt in the fourth quarter vs. Mt. SAC last week.

ABOVE: Palomar's Nick Riciardulli cuts off a block by tackle Steve Steiner (75) vs. nationally No. 1-ranked and defending national champion Mt. SAC. -- Photo by Deb Hellman  BELOW LEFT: James McNally, who blocked a punt. BELOW RIGHT: Bradley Castleberry, whose blocking after he was inserted into the game at fullback spark the Comets' late success running the ball as they battled back in the game.

Comets' comeback vs. No 1 Mt. SAC just short

WALNUT (10-16-10) (REVISED 10-17-10) -- Palomar, bidding for a second straight late comeback football win against one of the nation's top community college teams on Saturday afternoon, fell just short against defending state and national champion Mt. SAC.

The Mounties, ranked No. 1 in the nation by both the J.C. Grid-Wire and, held off the Comets 20-17 on an interception in the game's final minute.

It was the Southern Conference opener for both teams.

Palomar, which had scored 19 unanswered points in the game's final 9 minutes, 48 seconds to hand then No. 8-ranked El Camino its first loss 25-21 on the road two weeks ago, spotted Mt. SAC a 20-3 lead late in the third quarter on Saturday.

Forcing three straight three-and-out possessions by the Mounties (6-0), the Comets closed to within three points on a 4-yard touchdown run by Nick Riciardulli with 1:34 left in the third and, after Riciardulli departed with a leg injury, a 26-yard TD run by Tyrese Jones as the clock began winding down in the fourth quarter.

Getting the ball back at the Palomar 14 with 2:14 remaining after forcing Mt. SAC's 10th punt of the afternoon, the Comets started to drive again but saw  an interception by the Mounties' Tevita Palu with 53 seconds to go.

With Palomar without any timeouts left, Mt. SAC quarterback Nick Lamaison, a transfer from the University of Tennessee, took two straight knees as the clock ran out.

"I was real, real proud of the way we grinded and hung in there and came back," Palomar coach Joe Early said.

"Mt. SAC is very good defensively -- there's a reason they're ranked No. 1 in the country -- but we came back on them."

Defense kept the Comets in the game all afternoon long, led by Tala Meyers (10 tackles), Devin Taverna (8 tackles, a late pass break-up and 1/2 tackle for loss, Keith Alpichi (8 tackles 1 tackles for loss), Zach Gholson (8 tackles), Devin Willis (7 tackles, 1 pass break-up and a blocked PAT attempt) and James McNally, who blocked a punt in the first quarter.

Palomar was unable to take advantage of the  blocked punt, which gave them a first-and-10 at the Mt. SAC 15 in the first quarter. That possession resulted in a missed field goal.

Roman Ferreira later kicked a 36-yard field goal for the Comets with 3:09 to play in the first half.

The Comets' comeback, after they had minus rushing yardage at halftime, coincided with Riciardulli's inside runs and the blocking of fullback Bradley Castleberry, a 5-foot-9, 245-pounder who was inserted in the game.

Quarterback Nate Ong, who had eight straight completions at one point in the fourth quarter, was 24-for-34 passing for 202 yards. Nigel Westbrooks (5 catches for 47 yards), Geoff Akpom (4 for 58 yards) and Pat Cashman (4 for 45 in traffic) came of big among Palomar's receivers..

Cashman had three receptions for 39 yards from Ong on Palomar's last touchdown drive. He also returned four punts, one for 49 yards and held on kicks when the regular holder was a no-show on game day.

"We've got got to put this one behind us because we have Fullerton next (Saturday night, Oct. 23, in Escondido)," Early said. "I don't see anyone going unbeaten in our conference."

Mt. SAC ran its two-year win streak to 16 games, a school record. But not without its biggest scare of the streak The Mounties are 6-0, while the Comets are 3-3.


COMETS' COMEBACK FALLS SHORT AT MT. SAC  -- North County Times, 10/17/10

ABOVE: Uriah McBryde (28) and Casey Malauulu (43) bring down El Camino College's Peter Walton during Palomar's 25-21 victory over the then-No. 8 nationally-ranked Warriors two weeks ago. No. 16 is Tala Meyers. BELOW: Nick Ricciardulli rambles for a first down against the Warriors. Palomar is ranked No. 30 in the nation.-- Photos by Hugh Cox

Defending national champ, No. 1 Mt. SAC next

WALNUT (10-15-10) -- Last week's bye may have come at the perfect time for Palomar, which has a chance to accomplish something great on Saturday afternoon.

The Comets, coming off a big win at then-nationally eighth-ranked El Camino two weeks ago, go on the road to play defending national champion and current No. 1-ranked Mt. SAC. The Comets are ranked No. 30 nationally by

Kickoff for the rematch of last year's Southern California community college championship game between the Comets (3-2) and Mounties (5-0) will be at 1 p.m. at Hilmer Lodge Stadium on the Mt. SAC campus. It will be the Southern California Football Association Southern Conference opener for both teams.

While the Comets were ranked eighth nationally by the J.C. Grid-Wire of Kirkland, WA,  before losses to current No. 11 Cerritos and No. 20 Santa Ana, the Mounties have been top-ranked all season long by both the Grid-Wire and Lake Forest, CA-based

"It will be a great challenge," Palomar coach Joe Early said. "They're the No. 1 team i the country. We grinded all night long against El Camino. It's the same thing we have to do Saturday."

Said Early about the value of the bye week coming when it did: "I've never seen a team with so many injuries, especially so many season-ending injuries. But the bye helped get some of the guys whose injuries weren't season-ending healthy." 

Palomar quarterback Nate Ong was the Southern Conference Offensive Player of the Week two weeks ago after throwing for three touchdowns in the last 10 minutes to bring the Comets from behind against El Camino. 

Mt. SAC quarterback Nick Lamaison, a 6-foot-1, 210-pound sophomore transfer from the University of Tennessee, was 22-for-38 passing for 398 yards and a touchdown in the Mounties' 34-30 victory on the road over current No. 8 Bakersfield two weeks ago. Mt. SAC, like most Southern California teams, also had a bye last week.

The Mounties also have beaten Riverside Community College, College of the Desert, College of the Canyons and Victor Valley, which means Palomar has played the decidedly tougher schedule leading up to the conference opener.

Over the years, Palomar has beaten Mt. SAC three times when the Mounties came in ranked No. 1 in the nation.

Palomar sophomore quarterback Nate Ong, running for a first down here in the second half of Saturday's 25-21 victory over El Camino, is the SCFA Southern Conference Offensive Player of the Week. -- Photo by Hugh Cox

Ong is conference Offensive Player of the Week

LONG BEACH (10-5-10) -- The Southern California Football Association has honored Palomar's Nate Onga 6-foot-3, 210-pound sophomore quarterback from San Pasqual High School, as Southern Conference Offensive Player of the Week.

Ong guided the Comets to three unanswered touchdowns in the final 9 minutes, 48 seconds Saturday evening and a 25-21 upset victory over J.C. Grid-Wire nationally No. 8-ranked El Camino at the Warriors' Murdoch Stadium in Torrance.

Ong threw for three touchdowns in the final 1 1/2 quarters -- for 20 yards to sophomore wide receiver Geoff Akpom in the third quarter  and for 5 yards to freshman tight end Dallas Butler and 20 yards to sophomore slot receiver Mikey Head in the fourth quarter.

The TD strike to Head gave the Comets the lead for the first time in the game, and the upset, with 40 seconds to play.

ABOVE: Palomar defensive end and Boise State transfer Zach Gholson hauls down El Camino College quarterback Omar Herrera on Saturday night in Torrance. Gholson's nine tackles, forced fumble, fumble recovery and three quarterback hurries were instrumental in the Comets' 25-21 upset win. -- Photo by Hugh Cox. BELOW LEFT: Mikey Head, who caught the winning touchdown pass from Nate Ong with 40 seconds to play. BELOW RIGHT: Nick Ricciardulli, who rushed for 103 yards and had 152 all-purpose yards...

11 yrs. later, Comets return debt, upset No. 8 EC

TORRANCE (10-2-10) (Revised 10-3-10) -- Eleven years after El Camino College upset Palomar's nationally No. 1-ranked and defending J.C. Grid-Wire national championship team in the fifth week of the 1999 season, the Comets returned the favor in equally-stunning fashion on Saturday night.

The injury-decimated Comets, left for road kill after a painful loss to Santa Ana at home one week earlier, stunned the No. 8-ranked Warriors, handing them their first loss of the season 25-21 at Murdoch Stadium. Nate Ong threw a 20-yard touchdown strike to slot receiver Mikey Head with 20 seconds left to win a game in which Palomar had trailed all the way.

“I’d have to say that was my biggest catch ever,” Head, a sophomore from Ramona High School, told the San Diego Union-Tribune (see link below). “It was a corner route and Nate threw the ball right over my shoulder into my hands.”

Added Ong to the Union-Tribune: “We were in an empty set (no running backs) and they were blitzing from the left,. They were in a zero coverage and tried to cover Mikey with a linebacker. Mikey is too fast for that, and I was able to hit him in the left corner of the end zone.”

Palomar appeared even deader than road kill Saturday, putting up what appeared to be a futile fight attempting to trade blows toe-to-toe with an El Camino team that had taken over the Comets' original No. 8 Grid-Wire national ranking.

The Warriors led 21-6 with less than 10 minutes remaining in the non-conference game.

But the Comets' appearance proved to be a deception. Running back Nick Ricciardulli, accelerating through holes opened by his offensive line or skirting around end, ignited a late effort that brought Palomar back to life -- and to victory -- as he rushed for the majority of his 16-carry, 103-yard effort in the final 9 minutes, 48 seconds.

Palomar's defensive unit, led by end Zach Gholson (9 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 3 pass break-ups), left El Camino black and blue -- and stunned -- with booming hits, violent tackles for losses and sacks and three big turnovers.

And Ong, after a fruitless first half in which Palomar fell behind 14-0 as the Comets were virtually unable to generate any passing offense, returned to life along with the rest of the team and supplied the bullet that put the Warriors away.

Ong, who had come up with much of what offense the Comets could muster in the first half by running the ball himself, threw for almost all his 161 passing yards and two of his three touchdown tosses as Palomar outscored El Camino 19-0 in that final 9:48.

The late TDs in the closing barrage came on a 5-yard pass from Ong to tight end Dallas Butler, a 1-yard sneak by back-up QB Tynan Murray when Ong left the game briefly with what appeared to be a broken finger on his left hand and the game-winning 20-yard toss to Head.

Palomar's only previous points had come midway through the third quarter on a 20-yard pass from Ong to Geoff Akpom.

Ong finished 17-for-29 passing. Jevon Reynolds (six receptions), Akpom, Andre Uptgrow and Butler all caught multiple passes and the Comets also got 120 yards in kickoff returns from Xavier McGinniss, Ricciardulli and Thomas Worden, 37 tough punt return yards from Pat Cashman and a 15-yard burst from Armani Taylor which gave them most of the first-half offense that Ong's runs didn't.

Devin Taverna supplied nine tackles, Uriah McBryde had eight tackles, and Tala Meyers came up big with six tackles, two tackles for losses, a forced fumble, a pass break-up and two sacks. Cory Bitting sent an El Camino helmet flying off a ball-carrier's head. Ritchie Mata'afa recovered a fumble. Devin Willis blocked a field goal attempt. Stuart Hielscher intercepted a pass.

Ricciardulli (152 all-purpose yards) set up a touchdown with a run to the El Camino 3-yard line, Butler set up another with a 22-yard catch-and-run to the 10. And Shaheen Pourfallah deposited a punt at the 1-yard line.

Palomar advanced to 3-2. El Camino suffered its first loss in four games.

The Comets get a bye next week to hopefully get a little healthier before a 1 p.m. road game on Oct. 16 at defending national champion and nationally No. 1-ranked Mt. SAC, the team that beat them in last year's Southern California championship game.


COMETS RALLY TO UPSET NO. 8 EL CAMINO  -- North County Times, 10/3/10


ABOVE: Former Cathedral Catholic High School All-CIF San Diego Section selection Roman Ferreira kicks out of Shaheen Pourfallah's hold last week against Santa Ana. No. 41 is Robert Luth, who is a key player on most of Palomar's special teams and also plays tight end. Ferreira kicked a 46-yard field goal against the Dons. -- Photo by Hugh Cox. BELOW: Defensive end Zach Gholson (La Costa Canyon High), who played in nine games last season for Boise State as a freshman.

Comets play at USA No. 8-ranked El Camino

TORRANCE (10-1-10) -- Palomar has played some of best football ever over the years against El Camino at Murdoch Stadium on the El Camino campus, and the Comets need one of those efforts in Saturday's 6 p.m. game.

The injury-besieged Comets, who were ranked No. 8 nationally by the J.C. Grid-Wire before being upset by Cerritos three weeks ago, were still No. 12 when Santa Ana upset them last week and exited the rankings this week, will have to dig down deep against the Warriors -- who are this week's new No. 8.

"We're playing a team that's 4-0, and we've struggled," coach Joe Early said. "It's going to be a challenge. We've got to have guys step up. We're thin right now with the injuries. We've got to play hard and we've got to play tough."

Palomar (2-2) gets right guard Mike Dobbins back after missing last week's game with a sinus and face infection, and get pre-season second-team All-American left tackle Steve Steiner back after he had to leave last week's game with what was first thought to be a concussion but turned out to be severe dehydration.

Also, defensive end Zach Gholson, who played in nine games for Boise State last season as a freshman, is back healthy again. He was back on the field against Santa Ana but was still slowed by a leg injury sustained against current nationally No. 6-ranked Cerritos.

Early hopes those three players can help the Comets overcome all the other injuries..

ABOVE: For the second week in a row, Pat Cashman had a long punt return called back (see flag)This one would have been a 49-yarder..BELOW LEFT: Jevon Reynolds, hauls in a first-down pass from Nate Ong.. BELOW RIGHT: Tight end Dallas Butler on his way to a first down on a reception from Ong. No. 16 is Tala Meyers. -- Photos by Hugh Cox.

Dons, mistakes, more injuries do in Comets

ESCONDIDO (9-25-10) -- A quicker, physical Santa Ana team, crucial Palomar mistakes and more injuries combined to do in the Comets on Saturday evening at Wilson Stadium.

The Dons (3-1) rolled up 560 yards in total offense to take a 49-27 victory as the Comets fell to 2-2 going into their final non-conference game next Saturday night at El Camino College.

Akeelie Mustafa, a freshman running back from Cypress High School, had a career day for the unranked Dons against the nationally No. 12-ranked Comets.

With Santa Ana's offensive line blowing open holes against Palomar's injury-decimated defensive line, Mustafa racked up 304 all-purpose yards.

Mustafa scored five touchdowns, one short of the Santa Ana record set by Al Clayes, who tallied six TDs vs. Imperial Valley (then known as El Centro Junior College) in an 80-7 Dons victory 86 years ago, in 1924.

Mustafa rushed for 214 yards and touchdowns of 3, 49, 6 and 59 yards on 16 carries, had a 69-yard touchdown on one reception from quarterback Andrew McDonald and also returned two kickoffs for 21 yards.

Santa Ana scored 35 points in the second quarter to take a 42-6 halftime lead. Roman Ferreira kicked two first-half field goals for Palomar, for 32 yards in the first quarter and 46 yards in the second quarter.

Palomar came to life in the second half, scoring the last 18 points of the game on a 13-yard pass from Nate Ong to Matt Laws, a 3-yard run by Ong, a 5-yard pass from Ong to Pat Cashman and three Ferreira extra points.

But, by the time it was over, Palomar had 12 players leave the field with injuries and it appears two of them are lost for the season. That's on top of all the injuries the Comets already had.

"We're decimated by the injuries," coach Joe Early said.

"As far as the first half is concerned," Early added, "the biggest thing is how you respond to something like that, and I liked the way we responded in the second half."

The Comets managed 375 offensive yards of their own, 172 yards on the ground and 203 yards through the air.

Ong, who left the game twice and returned twice, was 22-for-37 passing for 190 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 59 net yards and a touchdown. Tynan Murray, who came on in Ong's place at quarterback and sparked one of the Comets' touchdown drives, added 50 net yards rushing on six carries, including a 26-yard gain.

Jevon Reynolds (5 catches for 37 yards), Nigel Westbrooks (4 for 44 yards), Dallas Butler (3 for 29 yards) and Mikey Head (3 for 20 yards) led the receivers.

Nick Ricciardulli returned five kickoffs for 120 yards, including a 46-yarder. Xavier McGinniss added 82 yards on three kickoff returns.

Cashman had a long punt return called back because of a penalty for the second week in a row, this one a 49-yarder to the Santa Ana 27-yard line. He had a 60-yard touchdown return nullified against San Diego Mesa last week..

Kenny York punted three times for a 41.3-yard average, including a 55-yarder.

Safety Devin Taverna led Palomar with nine tackles, including a half tackle for loss. Zach Gholson had seven tackles., also including a half tackle for loss. Deevin Willis and Dutch Hopgood each contributed five tackles. David Moodie recovered a fumble.


ABOVE: Nick Ricciardulli, diving into the end zone for a touchdown in last week's 40-3 blowout of San Diego Mesa, has been trading off with Tyrese Jones at tailback but is expected to carry most of the load at the position Saturday evening against Santa Ana. Whether Jones, who has been injured this week, will play will be a game-time decision, with Ricciardulli starting in any case. -- Photo by Hugh Cox. BELOW: Strong safety Cory Bitting, whose hits have helped key the Comets' defense.

No. 12 Comets host smash-mouth rival Dons

ESCONDIDO (9-24-10) -- Two things are certain about Santa Ana College, the team Palomar will match 2-1 records against in a non-conference game on Saturday at 6 p.m. at Escondido High School's new-ly renovated Wilson Stadium.

No. 1, the Comets will be facing a team that bears absolutely no resemblance to the San Diego Mesa squad they pounded 40-3 last Saturday evening in San Diego.

No. 2, the Dons, who always put a smash-mouth team on the field, will be prepared.

"They're well-coached (under head coach Geoff Jones). They're a quality program. They're a quality team," Palomar coach Joe Early says of the Dons, who beat Santa Monica 56-17 last week after leading 56-3 through three quarters.

"We've got to be concerned with penalties and missed opportunities," Early added. "It's difficult to beat a team of this quality when you're out there beating yourselves."

The Comets have been hurt by both penalties and missed opportunities -- at least until the second half last week when they blew the game open against the Olympians.

Palomar will get injured players back this week, particularly on defense, but tailback Tyrese Jones, who scored three touchdowns vs. Mesa, offensive guard/center Mike Dobbins tight end Cory Soto are listed as doubtful for the game. Jones and Dobbins both have been slowed by injuries this week, Dobbins by a sinus infection.

Nick Ricciardulli, who has been switching off with Jones, will have the starting job all to himself against the Dons.

The Comets, who were ranked as high as eighth before losing to current sixth-ranked Cerritos two weeks ago, inched up a spot spot back to No. 12 in the nation in the Seattle-based J.C. Grid-Wire / rankings this week.

Mt. SAC is No. 1 this week, followed by No. 2 College of San Mateo, No. 3 City College of San Francisco, No. 4 Mississippi Gulf Coast, No. 5 Butler (Kansas), No. 6 Cerritos, No. 7 Bakersfield, No. 8 El Camino, No. 9 Navarro (Texas), No. 10 Coffeyville (Kansas), No. 11 Blinn (Texas) and the No. 12 Comets.  

ABOVE: Palomar's Pat Cashman returns a punt 60 yards for an apparent touchdown in 40-3 win over San Diego Mesa on Saturday night. No. 20 is Cory Bitting, and No. 81 is Saltavious Jackson. The touchdown was called because of a penalty.BELOW: Tyrese Jones scores on a 19-yard run for his third touchdown. -- Photosby Hugh Cox.

Comets roll 40-3 as Jones tallies three TDs

SAN DIEGO (9-18-10) -- After an out-of-sync first half which saw penalties stall Palomar time after the time, the Comets exploded to bury host San Diego Mesa 40-3 in a non-conference football game on Saturday evening.

Running back Tyrone Jones scored Palomar's first three touchdowns of the night on runs of 1 yard in the first quarter, 5-yards in the second quarter and 39 yards in the third quarter. Jones rushed for 82 yards on 13 carries, and also had a 6-yard reception.

The Comets broke the game wide open in the fourth quarter on a 3-yard touchdown pass from Nate Ong to fullback Bradley Castleberry, a 1-yard run by Nick Roicciardulli (86 yards on 14  carries) and a late 77-yard keeper by University of Nevada transfer David Fisher, their third quarterback of the night.

Fisher faked a handoff into the line and took off on his TD sprint, racing untouched to the North end zone at Merrill Douglas Stadium.

Dallas Butler set up two of Palomar's touchdowns. His 25-yard punt return down to the 12-yard line set up a Jones touchdown. And his  26-yard catch of an Ong pass set up Castleberry's TD.

Castleberry, meanwhile, was the lead blocker on Jones' 5-yard TD, taking out two Mesa defenders on the play.

Ong and Tynan Murray, who was Mesa's starting quarterback a year ago before transferring to Palomar, combined for 24 pass completions on 42 attempts for 233 yards.

Jevon Reynolds (seven catches for 54 yards), Nigel Westbrooks (five for 54), Matt Laws (three for 26) and Pat Cashman (two for 22) led Palomar's receivers.

Palomar had a 60-yard punt return for a touchdown by Cashman called back in the second quarter and an apparent 30-yard fumble return by nose guard Stuart Helscher nullified. The official ruled he saw the Mesa ball carrier down on the play but didn't blow the play dead because he couldn't find his whistle.

Strong safety Cory Bitting, outside linebacker Dutch Hapgood and defensive end David Moodie all were in on sacks of Mesa quarterback Kyle Christian, whom the Comets dropped for 20 yards in losses.

Moodie, Bitting and Hapgood led Palomar with six teackles each. Tala Meyers recovered a fumble, and Devin Willis intercepted a pass.

The Comets' defensive unit held the Olympians to eight first downs, three of those coming by penalty.

Palomar, ranked 13th in the nation by the J.C. Grid-Wire of Kirkland, Washington, hasn't lost to Mesa since 1967.

Palomar will take a 2-1 record into a home game with Santa Ana, a 56-17 winner over Santa Monica, next Saturday at 6 p.m. at Wilson Stadium in Escondido.

The Olympians dropped to 0-3.


Comets try to get rolling at Mesa on Saturday

SAN DIEGO (9-17-10) -- After playing at less than its best for two straight weeks, in a victory over Southwestern and a tough loss to Cerritos, Palomar will attempt to get its act back together Saturday evening in its first road game of the season.

The non-conference opponent this week: San Diego Mesa, a team that hasn't beaten the Comets since Lyndon Baines Johnson was President of the United States,. A fumble in the final minute led to the winning touchdown as the Olympians beat the Comets 14-7 on Oct. 21, 1967 at Mesa.

But what has happened in the last 43 years has little bearing in 2010, and Mesa has played Palomar tough a year ago -- the Comets holding off the Olympians 27-17.

"They've actually played us tough the last two seasons," Palomar coach Joe Early said. "We don't expect anything different on Saturday. They'll be after us. They have something to prove."

So do the Comets, who dropped from No. 8 to No. 13 in the J.C. Grid-Wire's national rankings this week after last week's loss to Cerritos.

"We need to come out and play four solid quarters," Early said. "Last week, we played 3 1/2 quarters and it cost us the game.. We need to eliminate the penalties we've been committing and do something with the opportunities we get."

With injuries on the defensive line, Palomar will start four new faces at end and tackle.

Carson Paopao, a member of Oceanside's legendary football family, will become the first graduate of a Canadian high school to start for the Comets since Corey Mace six years ago. The 6-foot-3, 235-pound freshman converted tight end is a product of Notre Dame Catholic High School in Burlington, Ontario.

Mace, a defensive end who went on to star at Wyoming and play in the NFL for the Buffalo Bills, played high school football in Port Moody, British Columbia.

ABOVE: Linebacker Casey Malauulou hauls down Cerritos' Silver Viafanua after a 3-yard reception.. BELOW LEFT: Linebacker Tanner Hix sacks quarterback Kane Wilson.. -- Photos by Hugh Cox. BELOW RIGHT: Palomar quarterback Nate Ong, who passed for 313 yards.

11th-ranked Cerritos knocks off No. 8 Palomar

ESCONDIDO (9-11-10) -- After frustrating post-season losses to Palomar the last two seasons, nationally 11th-ranked Cerritos got some measure of revenge by upsetting the eighth-ranked Comets 34-17 Saturday evening at Wilson Stadium.

This, on a night that quarterback Nate Ong was 24-for-38 passing for Palomar 313 yards and a 67-yard touchdown to Jevon Reynolds on the game's first play from scrimmage ... and  on a night that Devin Taverna contributed 12 tackles (8 solo) and an interception.

Linebacker Casey Malauulu (9 tackles, 2 for losses, blocked field goal, sack), Devin Willis (8 tackles, pass break-up), Brandon Green (8 tackles, 1 tackle for loss) and David Moodie (7 tackles, 1.5 tackles for losses, 1.5 sacks) also had big nights defensively.

It appeared the Comets (1-1), who had led early 10-3 but trailed 20-17, were about to regain the lead late in the third quarter. Ong had driven them from their own 13-yard line to the Cerritos 27 after  Taverna's interception when he was in turn intercepted by the Falcons' Keith McGill at the 5-yard line

Cerritos (2-0) kept the ball out of Ong's hands the rest of the way, allowing Palomar only 11 plays, and tacking on 14 more points.

After the Ong-to-Reynolds touchdown pass in the game's first 17 seconds, the Comets' points the rest of the night came on a 30-yard Roman Ferreira field goal that put the Comets up 10-3 with 6:40 left in the first quarter, Tyrese Jones' 2-yard run with 2;09 left in the second quarter and two Ferreria PAT kicks.

Ferreria also missed a field goal.

Nigel Westbrooks (seven catches for 43 yards), Reynolds (five for 91 yards), Mikey Head (four for 91 yards), Andre Uptgrow (four for 39 yards) and Geoff Akpom (two for 33 yards) had multiple receptions for Palomar.

Tyrese Jones returned four kickoffs for 119 yards.

Palomar will try to advance to 2-1 for the early season when they travel to San Diego Mesa (0-2) next Saturday night.


ABOVE:  Palomar's defense stops Southwestern at the goal-line in last week's 23-13 victory. No. 48 is linebacker Tanner Hix. No. 58 is linebacker Adam Witzmann. -- Photo by Hugh Cox. BELOW LEFT: Steven Steiner, the Comets' starting left tackle and a second-team pre-season All-American. BELOW RIGHT: Tight end Robert Luth, who had a 35-yard reception last week.

No. 8 Comets host big, physical No. 11 Cerritos

ESCONDIDO (9-10-10) -- Palomar will be in historically familiar territory when the Comets (1-0), still ranked No. 8 nationally by the J.C. Grid-Wire the second week of the season, hosts Cerritos (1-0), still ranked No. 11, on Saturday.

Palomar will be locked up in a known-down battle with one of the most physical, deep, talented  teams in community college football. Same as a year ago, when the Comets broke open a close late late to win 31-17 in the first round of the Southern California playoffs.

Same as two years ago, when Palomar held on to beat the Falcons 38-33 in the Golden Empire Bowl at Bakersfield.

Same as all the way back in 1991, when Cerritos handled the Comets their only loss, in the opening game, during a season when Palomar went on to tie Northeastern Oklahoma for its first-ever mythical national championship.

Season-after-season, the Palomar-Cerritos rivalry has been a war.

"They'll probably bring down three busloads of guys," Palomar coach Joe Early said. "They always have a whole lot of depth, and a lotof size, and this is the same as every other yea.

"We have to be able to run the ball this wee. We have to play well on defense again, and we have to play especially well on special teams, to give ourselves an opportunity to be successfrul."

While the Comets beat Southwestern 23-13 in their season opener last week, the Falcons opened with a 29-13 victory over Los Angeles Harbor..

ABOVE: Mikey Head scores Palomar's first touchdown of the season, catching a 19-yard scoring strike from Nate Ong in the first quarter.. -- Photo by Hugh Cox. BELOW LEFT: Defensive end Zach Gholson, who played in nine games for Boise State last season as a true freshman. He teamed with Travis Washburn on a sack in the final 56 seconds that helped finish off the Jaguars.. BELOW RIGHT: Safety Cory Bitting, who led the Comets with eight solo tackles.

PC finds way to win, beats Jags 12th time in row

ESCONDIDO (9-4-10) -- Palomar didn't earn many style points for

its season football opener against Southwestern at Escondido High's Wilson Stadium on Saturday evening.

But the J.C. Grid-Wire nationally No. 8-ranked Comets got the win, defeating the Jaguars 23-13 in a non-conference game  It was Palomar's 12th straight victory over Southwestern.

Coach Joe Early, whose teams are 9-0 in season openers since he took over the program in 2002, will take wins over style points any time.

"We lost a lot of starters (from last year's 10-3 Southern California runner-up team), and a lot of times it looked like we lost a lot of starters. Not all wins are pretty," Early said.

"We had to overcome a lot of adversity, and we did. We finished, and we found a way to win. Our special teams play was huge."

Trailing 3-0, the Comets took a 7-3 lead with 4:19 left in the first quarter on a 19-yard pass play from Nate Ong (27-for-45, 282 yards with a number of drops) to Mikey Head.

Palomar held the lead the remainder of the night, also scoring on three second-quarter field goals by Roman Ferreiraa of 22, 26 and 26 yards, a 46-yard interception return by Devin Taverna with 45 seconds left in the game and two Ferreira PATs.

The Comets' defensive unit followed up Taverna's interception return by putting an exclamation point on the victory as the clock ticked down when Boise State transfer Zach Gholson and Travis Washburn sacked Southwestern quarterback Ryan Van Norstrand for a 15-yard loss back to the 10-yard line.

Gholson (who had seven solo tackles) and Tanner Hix led Palomar with nine tackles apiece. Cory Bitting contributed eight tackles, all solo, broke up a pass and deflected a field goal. Taverna had a pass break-up and quarterback hurry to go along with his interception. Taverna, Ezra Latu, Brandon Green and Casey Malauulu contributed six tackles each.

Tala Meyers forced two fumbles. Devin Willis had four pass break-ups.

Southwestern's highly-hyped running back Aaron Harris did not play, apparently due to a shoulder injury.


TAVERNA'S PICK LIFTS COMETS  -- North County Times, 9/5/10


Taverna is honored by both SCFA and PCAC

SAN DIEGO (9-7-10) -- Palomar football safety Devin Taverna has been selected as Southern California Football Association Defensive Player of the Week and also as Men's Athlete of the Week for all sports by the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference for his performance against Southwestern on Saturday evening.

Taverna, a 6-foot-1, 195-pound freshman who helped lead Oceanside High School to the state Division I championship a year ago, intercepted a pass and returned it 46 yards for a touchdown with 45 seconds remaining, cementing the Comets' 23-13 victory.

Taverna, who also returned interceptions for touchdowns in last year's CIF0San Diego Section championship game and in this past summer's Alex Spanos North-South All-Star Classic, added a pass break-up and a quarterback hurry against the Jaguars.

The Pacific Coast Athletic Conference is Palomar's home conference, but the Comets play football in the Southern California Football Association's National Division Southern Conference.

Nate Ong, shown keeping the football in a win over San Diego Mesa last season, starts at quarterback for the Comets. -- Photo by Hugh Cox

Harris, Jaguars arrive for opener Saturday

ESCONDIDO (9-3-10) -- Southwestern College, featuring running back Aaron Harris, a first-team J.C. Grid-Wire pre-season All-American who is ranked as the nation's second-best community college prospect at any position by, will be in town to kick off Palomar's 2010 football season on Saturday.

Kickoff will be at 6 p.m. at Escondido High School's newly-remodeled Wilson Stadium, with the game airing live on KKSM-1320 radio.

Harris' goal, he told the San Diego Union-Tribune, is to break a slew of school records this season (see article below), while the Comets' goal is simply to beat the Jaguars for the 12th straight time.

Palomar defeated Southwestern in last year's opener 55-0 at Southwestern's DeVore Stadium.

"Evidently they have a good running back," Palomar coach Joe Early said. "He played sparingly vs. us last year, so we don't have a lot of video on him."

Harris carried the ball five times for 10 yards against the Comets last season.

"In any case, we've got to concern ourselves with us," Early added. "We have to take care of the ball, tackle, avoid penalties and play well on special teams. If we can do those things, it will give us a real good opportunity."

Palomar, ranked No. 8 in the nation by the Grid-Wire in the pre-season, went 10-3 in 2009 and advanced to the Southern California championship game. Last year's Comets finished the season in the same spot they begin 2010 -- ranked eighth nationally.

Southwestern was 4-6 a year ago.

2nd-team All-American, PC to face 1st-teamer

KIRKLAND, Washington (8-31-10) -- The J.C. Grid-Wire named Palomar offensive tackle Steven Steiner (left) to its pre-season All-American team Tuesday.

The Grid-Wire selected Steiner, a 6-foot-7, 325-pound sophomore from Murrieta Valley High School, to the second team.

The nationally eighth-ranked Comets will face Aaron Harris (right) from unranked Southwestern, one of the Grid-Wire's two first-team pre-season All-American running backs, in their season opener on Saturday at 6 p.m. at Wilson Stadium in Escondido.

Harris, a 5-10, 200-pound sophomore from Granite Hills High School who has a listed 40 time of 4.38, rushed for 1,169 yards and 14 touchdowns for the Jaguars (4-6) in 10 games last season. ranks Harris as the second-best community college prospect in the nation at all positions.

“This is no lightweight guy,” Southwestern coach Ed Carberry told the San Diego Union-Tribune.  “He’s strong enough to run inside and has the ability to make people miss on the outside.”

“I think I’ve got a shot at a lot more (school) records this year because our O-linemen are so much bigger,” Harris told the U-T. “And they’re not just big. They can move and they carry out their blocks well. Because of that it gives me a lot more ways to use my skills. Whether I run inside or outside, I think of myself as a tackle breaker.”

According to the Union-Tribune, Cincinnati, Hawaii and San Diego State have already given him scholarship offers  Harris told the U-T that Rutgers, Pitt, Wyoming, Utah and USC are other schools that are recruiting him.

The Grid-Wire selected Allan Hancock wide receiver Scotty Cathcart, the son of Palomar Athletic Director Scott Cathcart, to the second team.

FAST FACT:  In last year's season opener between the two teams, Harris was limited to 10 yards rushing on five carries as Palomar defeated Southwestern 55-0 at the Jaguars' DeVore Stadium.


Grid-Wire ranks PC 8th in nation in the pre-season

KIRKLAND, Washington / LAKE FOREST (8-28-10) -- The J.C. Grid-Wire of Kirkland, WA, ranks Palomar No. 8 in the nation, the same spot the Comets finished in 2009, the begin the 2010 football season. Mt. SAC and Fullerton, both members of the Southern Conference along with Palomar, are ranked 1-2.,

Those two teams are followed by No. 3 Arizona Western, No. 4 City College of San Francisco, No. 5 Blinn (Texas), No. 6 College of San Mateo, No. 7 Navarro (Texas), the No. 8 Comets, No. 9 Mississippi Gulf Coast and No. 10 Fort Scott (Kansas).

Along with the No. 1 Mounties and No. 2 Hornets, the Comets will play No. 11 Cerritos, No. 14 El Camino, No. 16 Saddleback and two "Teams to Watch" (Grossmont and Saddleback).

Lake Forest, CA-based moved Palomar from No. 14 to No. 13 in its national rankings after last week's NJCAA (non-California teams) opening weekend. ranks Arizona Western at No. 1, followed by No. 2 Blinn (Texas), No. 3 Mt. SAC, No. 4 East Mississippi, No. 5 City College of San Francisco and No. 6 Fullerton.

The J.C. Grid-Wire is associated with is associated with


ABOVE: Joel Yosevitch takes a handoff from quarterback David Fisher at the front end of a 19-yard run in Saturday's scrimmage. Defensive end Zach Gohlston (91), a transfer from Boise State where he played in nine games as a true freshman, tries to fight off a block. -- Photo by Hugh Cox. BELOW LEFT: Coach Joe Early talks to the Comets after the scrimmage. -- Photo by Hugh Cox. BELOW RIGHT: Cory Soto, the Comets' 6-foot-8, 255-pound freshman tight end who caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from Tynan Murray.

Comets spread reps around; 'O' goes it again

SAN MARCOS (8-28-10) -- The offense came out sharp again on Saturday as Palomar conducted its second and final full-on intrasquad scrimmage leading up to next Saturday's season opener.

The coaches spread out the reps in the shortened scrimmage, which like the previous week was conducted with a regular full officiating crew..

Four quarterbacks, including a red-shirt, connected on 18 of 24 pass attempts for 203 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.

The 18 receptions were spread among 12 players, and rushing attempts were divided among eight backs.

The offense scored on an 8-yard run by Nick Ricciardulli, a 24-yard field goal by Roman Ferreira, a 25-yard pass play from Tynan Murray to 6-foot-8, 255-pound tight end Cory Soto, a 2-yard run by Chad Dobbins, and an 18-yard pass from Nate Ong to Andre Uptgrow.

University of Nevada transfer David Fisher was a perfect 9-for-9 passing for 80 yards. Jevon Reynolds was the leading receiver with four receptions and Soto (two catches for 32 yards), 2009 CIF-San Diego Section Offensive Player of the Year Dallas Butler and Uptgrow also had multiple receptions.

With no one carrying the ball more than four times, Dobbins (three carries for 21 yards) was the leading rusher.

Defensively, Uriah McBride broke up a pass.

"We were a little crisper than we were in last week's scrimmage," coach Joe Early said. "We want to keep getting a little better each day, and we're headed in that direction. We want to cut down on penalties, and we accomplished that. The offense looked good."

The Comets and Southwestern will kick off in the opener at 6 p.m. this Saturday at Escondido's Wilson Stadium in a non-conference matchup.

Lorenzen: two catches for Saints vs. Chargers

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (8-27-10) -- Ex-Palomar quarterback Tyler Lorenzen, trying to make the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints as a tight end, did himself two big favors against the San Diego Chargers on Friday night.

That's as in two receptions for 33 yards, including a 24-yard catch on the first play of a scoring drive that resulted in a Saints field goal, while playing the fourth quarter in the game.

The Saints won 36-20 in front of a live crowd of 70,037 and a national TV audience at the New Orleans Superdome. The game gave CBS the highest-rated TV broadcast in its time period, beating Fox, NBC and ABC.

Lorenzen spent the 2009 season on the practice roster for the Saints and received a Super Bowl ring.

New Orleans and the Minnesota Vikings will play the opening game of the NFL regular season on Thursday night, Sept. 9, also at the Superdome.

ABOVE: Nate Ong throws a pass in the flat to running back Thomas Worden during Friday's scrimmage. -- Photo by Deb Hellman. BELOW LEFT: Defensive tackle Travis Washburn, who recorded a sack. BELOW RIGHT: Receiver Andre Uptgrow, who had four receptions for 137 yards and a touchdown.

'O' passes for 387 yards on way to 524 total

SAN MARCOS (8-20-10) (Updated 8-22-10) -- Quarterback Nate Ong connected on 16-of-23 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns Friday afternoon as the offense moved the ball in Palomar's first major intrasquad football scrimmage.

Andre Uptgrow caught four passes for 137 yards and a touchdown. Uptgrow, who had 10 receptions for 97 yards last year as a freshman, has returned with a new resolve this season.

Last season, he dealt with the fatal illness and death of his 16-year-old brother Deandre Uptgrow, who died of brain cancer on Oct. 9.

QBs Ong, Tynan Murray and David Fisher were 25-for-39 passing for 387 yards, three TD's and no interceptions in the scrimmage. The Comets also rushed for 137 yards as they accumulated 524 yards in total offense.

This, after the first two touchdowns, a  22-yard run by Tyrese Jones and a 29-yard pass play from Ong to Jevon Reynolds, were nullified by penalties. Murray also had a 29-yard TD run called back.

The scrimmage was conducted with a full officiating crew.

"We've been in pads less than a week," coach Joe Early said. "This was good because it exposed us to what we need to work on. Defensively, that would be our tackling."

Offensively, penalties hurt the Comets.

The offense scored, in order, on a 20-yard pass from Ong to Nigel Westbrooks, a 2-yard pass from Ong to Thomas Worden, a 69-yard pass from Murray to Uptgrow, a 45-yard field goal by Roman Ferreira and an 11-yard run by Nick Ricciardulli.

The Comets added four TD runs in short-yardage situations, with Chad Dobbins scoring from the 2-yard line, Joel Yosevitch from the 2, Xavier McGinnis from the 1 and Worden from the 2.

Murray was 5-for-7 passing for 141 yards. Reynolds caught five passes for 72 yards, Mikey Head caught five passes for 38 yards, Westbrooks three passes for 61 yards and Pat Cashman three for 18 yards. Cashman also barely missed holding onto the ball on what would have been a spectacular catch when he was clobbered on a pass interference play.

Fisher added quarterback keepers that counted for 31 yards. Jones rushed for 20 yards on three carries and Armani Taylor added 20 yards on six carries.

Defensive tackle Travis Washburn recorded an 8-yard sack and the defense also had a fumble recovery and stopped the offense inside the 5-yard line.

Riccardulli added two kickoff returns for 42 yards. His TD run came on the final play of the scrimmage. Josh Bergman, a 6-foot-3, 295-pound freshman from Valley Center High School who was battling for a starting job at right guard, suffered a dislocated ankle, a fractured tibia and torn ligaments on the play, putting a pall over the afternoon for his fellow players and his coaches.

Rocco Hemphill boomed a 43-yard punt.

"We had a good effort," Early said. "We were able to run off 84 plays. We got a good evaluation film."

The Comets also will scrimmage next Saturday before kicking off the season the following Saturday, on Sept. 4, at 6 p.m. against Southwestern at Wilson Stadium in Escondido.

Coach Joe Early talks to the team at the conclusion of practice -- Photo by Deb Hellman

Comets start 2010 No. 5 in state, No. 3 in SoCal

SAN MATEO (8-17-10) -- Palomar is ranked No. 5 among the state's 72 football-playing community colleges and No. 3 among the 38 Southern California teams heading into the 2010 season.

The Top Ten teams in the California Community College Football Coaches Association pre-season poll.are No. 1 Mt. SAC, No. 2 City College of San Francisco, No. 3 College of San Mateo, No. 4 Fullerton, the No. 5 Comets, No. 6 Bakersfield, No. l7 Butte, No. 8 Cerritos, No. 9 Saddleback and No. 10 Foothill.

In the CCCFBA's Southern California rankings, Mt. SAC is No. 1, followed by No. 2 Fullerton, the No. 3 Comets, No. 4 Bakersfield, No. 5 Cerritos, No. 6 Saddleback, No. 7 El Camino, No. 8 Allan Hancock, No. 9 Grossmont and No. 10 Los Angeles Harbor.

Mt. SAC defeated Palomar in the 2009 Southern California championship game, then beat San Mateo in the state title game the following week. The Mounties are the defending J.C. Grid-Wire / J.C. -- and J.C. national champions.

The Comets will host Cerritos on Sept. 11, will visit El Camino on Oct. 2, will visit Mt. SAC on Oct. 16, will host Fullerton on Oct. 23, will visit Saddleback on Nov. 6 and will host Grossmont on Nov. 13.

ABOVE: Returning quarterback starter Nate Ong sets up to pass in a drill at Saturday's first practice in full gear. Quarterbacks coach Cody Trefethen looks on. BELOW LEFT: Freshman receiver Nigel Westbrooks from Mission Hills High School catches a pass in front of corner Winston Pinto. -- Photos by Deb Hellman. BELOW RIGHT: Corner Devin Willis, who intercepted a pass in the end zone on the final play of 11-on-11 to end the practice.

Ong is 10-for-15 to end first practice in full gear

SAN MARCOS (8-14-10) -- Palomar went through its first day of Fall football drills in full gear on Saturday and, not unexpectedly, returning quarterback starter Nate Ong stepped it up.

Ong was 10-for-15 passing with one interception as coach Joe Early sent the Comets through two live 11-on-11 sessions late in the practice.

The interception -- by sophomore corner Devin Willis in the end zone on a fourth-and-goal situation -- kept the offense from scoring after Ong engineered a 66-yard drive down to the 5-yard line.

Outside linebacker Ezra Latu broke up a pass in the end zone on the previous play.

Safety Devin Taverna,  the freshman out of state champion Oceanside High School who was the star of the Alex Spanos All-Star Classic last month -- had an interception in the first 11-on-11 live session as the Comets looked at all three of their quarterbacks.

"It looked like the first day for a lot of the practice. We're young, but it's a good group," Early said. "We open our season in 21 days (Saturday, Sept. 4, vs. Southwestern at Wilson Stadium in Escondido at 6 p.m.) and we're a lot of work ahead of us.

"(The newly-reconstructed Southern Conference) is as tough as is gets -- everyone in the conference has won at least one national championship and most of us have won multiple ones. But we're used to that.. We've always played in a tough conference."

Palomar will get Sunday off and will return to full-contact drills on Monday morning.

Middlemas 21st Comet to transfer to 4-year level

RICHMOND, Kentucky (8-15-10) -- Outside linebacker John Middlemas has become the 21st 2009 Palomar football player to move on to the four-year college level, to Eastern Kentucky University.

Middlemas is in camp with the Colonels as they prepare to open the season with back-to-back road games at Missouri State (on Sept. 2) and Louisville (on September 11).

A 6-foot-4, 215-pound outside linebacker from Elsinore High School, Middlemas was the Comets' fifth-leading tackler last season for a team that was ranked eighth nationally by the J.C. Grid-Wire of Kirkland, Washington.

For the season, he had 54 tackles (27 solo), eight tackles for losses, three sacks, two pass break-ups, two quarterback hurries and a fumble recovery.

Middlemas was selected as Southern Conference Defensive Player of the Week after he sacked Victor Valley quarterback Robert Love in the Comets' 24-7 victory over the Rams on Sept. 12.

PHOTO: Outside linebacker John Middlemas, about ready to recover a fumble during last Fall's 41-6 victory over Orange Coast. Middlemas has  transferred to Eastern Kentucky University. -- Photo by Hugh Cox


JCGridiron ranks PC 14th in U.S. in pre-season

LAKE FOREST (7/8-10) -- of Lake Forest, CA has Palomar in the No. 14 spot in the nation in its 2010 community college pre-season football rankings. ranks Arizona Western No.1, followed by No. 2 Blinn (Texas), No. 3 El Camino, No. 4 East Mississippi, No. 5 City College of San Francisco, No. 6 Ft. Scott  (Kansas), No. 7 Mt. SAC, No. 8 Navarro (Texas), No. 9 Fullerton and No. 10 Gulf Coast (Mississippi)

The Comets are coming off a season when they went 10-3, reached the Southern California championship game and were ranked No. 8 nationally by the J.C. Grid-Wire of Seattle. ranked Palomar No. 12 in the nation in its final 2009 rankings.

Four new assistant coaches join Early's staff

SAN MARCOS (7-3-10) -- Head coach Joe Early has completed Palomar's 12-man football coaching staff with the addition of four new assistants who have joined the Comets to begin the 2010 season.

The new additions are former Palomar players Lafo Malauulu (receivers coach) and Ron Rockett (safeties coach), Scott White (linebackers) and Vernon Smith (cornerbacks):

LAFO MALAUULU, Receivers -- A 1984 J.C. Grid-Wire first-team All-American Malauulu is the Palomar record-holder for career receptions.

Malauulu set the Palomar career receptions record, which still stands, with 152 catches during the 1983 and 1984 seasons. He shares Palomar single-game records for touchdowns (5) and points (30), marks recorded when he led the Comets to a 55-19 victory over San Diego Mesa on Thanksgiving Day, 1984.

Malauulu went on to star for San Jose State and played in the Canadian Football League for the British Columbia Lions.

One of the best prep receivers in San Diego County history under the legendary Herb Meyer at El Camino High, Malauulu was selected by the North County Times prior to the 2007 season as the 37th best player of the first 109 years of North County high school football. The newspaper's readers chose Malauulu as the 34th best North County player of the first 109 years.

The Times also named Malauulu to a second-team receiver spot on its all-time North County high school team.

Malauulu previously was receivers coach for the 1989 Palomar team that went 7-4 and defeated Ventura 21-20 in the Hall of Fame Bowl at San Diego's Balboa Stadium.

RON ROCKETT, Safeties -- Rockett, a starting safety for both the Comets and the University of Wyoming, played for Joe Early at Palomar. He helped lead the Comets to an 18-4 record during the 2002 (10-1) and 2003 (8-3) seasons -- and a final No. 4 national ranking by the J.C. Grid-Wire as a freshman.

Rockett, a product of Mission Bay High School prior to two seasons as a starter for the Comets, was a first-team All-Mountain West Conference selection for Wyoming as a senior in 2005, when he led the Cowboys in tackles.

As a junior, Rockett helped Wyoming beat UCLA 24-21 in the 2004 Las Vegas Bowl.

At Mission Bay, he was a first-team All-CIF San Diego Section selection and helped the Buccaneers to back-to-back San Diego Section Division III championships during the 2000 and 2001 under coach Dennis Pugh. He was a Mission Bay teammate of two other first-year Palomar assistants, White and Smith.

Rockett played in NFL Europe for the Frankfurt Galaxy. He was named the league's Defensive Player of the Week after he recorded eight solo tackles, an interception and two pass break-ups in the Galaxy's 30-14 victory over the Amsterdam Admirals on April 24, 2007.

SCOTT WHITE, Linebackers -- White, a multiple-season starter at outside linebacker for the University of Washington, comes to Palomar from Central Washington University where he has been an assistant coach.

White was named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week after recording 10 tackles (3 for losses) and 2 sacks in Washington's 21-10 over Arizona on Oct. 4, 2006, when the Huskies held the Wildcats to minus-7 yards rushing.

White was the CIF-San Diego Section Defensive Player of the Year in 2001 at Mission Bay High School. He was a prep teammate of Ron Rockett and Vernon Smith, also first-year Palomar assistant coaches, for the Buccaneers under coach Dennis Pugh.

He helped lead Mission Bay to back-to-back CIF-San Diego Section Division II championships in 2000 and 2001. 

VERNON SMITH, Cornerbacks -- Former University of Montana All-Big Sky corner White also comes to the Comets from Central Washington University.

He's been an assistant coach at Central Washington along with White.

At Montana, Smith helped the Grizzlies to a 14-0 record and the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) national championship as a sophomore in 2001.

In 2002, Smith intercepted six passes, returning one for a touchdown, as a junior for the Grizzlies.

Smith played at Mission Bay High School, where he was a teammate of Rockett and White under coach Dennis Pugh.

Smith will coach Palomar's secondary along with Rockett, coaching the corners while Rockett handles the safeties.


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