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Football

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, 2011

    2011 Schedule    |    2011 Roster     |     2011 Stats       |     2010 Stats

     2012 Coaching Staff    |     Individual Records (As of beginning of 2011 Season)    |   

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


2011 Season

Grid-Wire ranks Comets No. 18 in the nation

KIRKLAND, Washington  (12-12-11) -- The J.C. Grid-Wire has ranked Palomar No. 18 in the nation at the conclusion of the 2011 football season.

City College of San Francisco, which defeate4 Mt. SAC 52-42 for the CCCAA California state title on Saturday in San Francisco, is the Grid-Wire's 2011 national champion.

East Mississippi, which defeated Arizona Western in the NJCAA championship game (non-California community colleges) was No. 2, followe3d by No. 3 Butler (Kansas) and No. 4 Mt. SAC.

JCGrid-Iron.com of Lake Forest, California, ranks East Mississippi and San Francisco 1-2, and ranks Palomar a final No. 22.


Fisher is Palomar MVP, to sign with Kent State

SAN MARCOS  (12-13-11) -- Sophomore quarterback David Fisher, an All-Southern Conference first-team selection who passed and ran for 34 touchdowns during the 2011 season, was named Palomar's Most Valuable Player on Tuesday.

After the team's football awards luncheon at Home Town Buffet, Fisher announced he will sign with Kent State on Dec. 21, the first junior college national signing date for players who are eligible to transfer at the semester break. The Vista High School product also was offered by Texas State, which will debut in the Western Athletic Conference next season.

Middle linebacker Adam Witzmann (La Costa Canyon High), who co-holds Palomar's single-season record for tackles, received three major awards -- Defensive Player of the Year, defensive captain and the Kevin Kelly Award. The Kelly Award is presented in the name of the one-time Palomar linebacker who died of cancer while playing for Eastern New Mexico. Witzmann already has been offered by Southern Utah.

At Kent State, Fisher will be united with former Palomar teammate C.J. Malauulu, who was the Golden Flashes' second-leading tackler as a junior in 2011 while starting at will linebacker. Malauulu was a second-team All-MAC selection.

Fisher passed for 2,539 yards and 27 touchdowns for the Comets during the recent season and rushed for 614 yards (403 net) and seven more TDs. He had a 27-to-7 TD passes-to-interceptions ratio.

Fisher also was the Comets' offensive captain while receiver Nigel Westbrooks (Mission Hills High), was the Offensive Player of the Year. Westbrooks, like fellow receiver Alex Wheat, has been offered by Colorado State, both before coach Steve Fairchild was fired on Dec. 3. Michigan State also has shown interest in Wheat, who will move onto the Division I level after just one season at Palomar.

Palomar 2011 Football Award Winners

Most Valuable Player: David Fisher (Vista High School). Offensive Player of the Year: Nigel Westbrooks (Mission Hills HS). Defensive Player of the Year: Adam Witzmann (La Costa Canyon HS). Kevin Kelly Award: Adam Witzmann (La Costa Canyon HS). Offensive Captain: David Fisher (Vista HS). Defensive Captain: Adam Witzmann (La Costa Canyon HS). Outstanding Offensive Lineman: Jose Zuniga (San Marcos HS). Special Teams Outstanding Players: Austin Dennis (Scripps Ranch HS), Anthony Bolton (Escondido HS), Cameron Mercado (Kahuku HS, Hawaii). Most Improved: Cory Soto (La Costa Canyon HS). Most Inspirational: Anthony Walker (Mira Mesa HS). Kodak Player of the Year (Scout Team): Anthony Walker (Mira Mesa HS. GPA Award: David Moodie (Calvary Murrieta HS)


Update: Witzmann, Sovacool are actually tied

SAN MARCOS  (11-21-11) -- It turns out Adam Witzmann (left), whom initial reports showed broke Sean Sovacool's 2002 Palomar single-season tackles record Saturday night, actually is tied with Sovacool for the record.

Research showed Monday that Sovacool (right) was never officially credited for his 10 tackles in a bowl game victory over Grossmont in 2002.

So his revised tackle total goes to 118 for that season, when the Comets went 10-1 in Joe Early's first year as head coach, Thus Sovacool, now head coach at La Costa Canyon High School, and Witzmann are actually tied for the record of 118 tackles.

Sovacool, in 2002, and Witzmann, during the recently-concluded 2011 season, each had 108 tackles in 10 regular-season games and 118 tackles in 11 games for the overall season.

Sovacool, who also played for the Comets' 2001 team that won the Southern California title and lost to City College of San Francisco in the state championship game before he moved on to star at Northern Arizona, also is a former Palomar assistant coach.


ABOVE: Speed burner Austin Dennis is off an running on a 63-yard touchdown play after catching a David Fisher pass in the backfield, putting the Comets on the scoreboard 17 seconds into the second half.-- Photo by Hugh Cox. BELOW LEFT: Adam Witzmann, who broke Sean Sovacool's single-season tackles record. BELOW RIGHT: D.J. Zapata, who came into the game in the closing minutes and passed for 102 yards and a touchdown.

Turnovers, lapses fatal; record for  Witzmann

ESCONDIDO  (11-19-11) -- Palomar had its positives Saturday night in its Southern California playoff semifinal match-up with Cerritos.

But the positives were overshadowed by too many missed tackles and four costly turnovers that aborted drives by the Comets.

Along with a potent Cerritos offense, the missed tackles and turnovers did in the Comets as they saw themselves eliminated from the postseason 45-28.

Everything came down on a night that middle linebacker Adam Witzmann broke Sean Sovacool's nine-year-old Palomar single-season tackle record.

Witzmann recorded 10 tackles during the evening, giving him 118 for the season to break Sovacool's 2002 record of 108. Witzmann had tied that mark with eight tackles during last week's 34-31 win at Grossmont.

Austin Dennis had a big night for Palomar, and twice got the Comets back in the game in the third quarter after they fell behind 17-0 at halftime.

Dennis, a freshman from Scripps Ranch High School, scored on a 63-yard pass play from quarterback David Fisher out of the backfield to make it 17-7 17 seconds into the second half. Dennis set up his own TD on a 31-yard kickoff return.

Then, just after Cerritos answered with a 72-yard pass play to go back in front by 17, Dennis answered with an 85-yard return of the ensuing kickoff to score again, lifting Palomar back to within 10.

Austin finished the night with five kickoff returns for 171 yardsand two receptions for 82 yards, giving him 253 all-purpose yards.

The Comets' other scoring came on a 13-yard pass from Fisher to Nigel Westbrooks, a 17-yard pass play from Zapata to Michael Hodges and two-point conversion pass to Alex Wheat with 59 seconds left in the game and two PAT kicks by Cameron Mercado, making Mercado 47-for-47 for the season.

Fisher passed for 217 yards on a 15-for-29 night and added  59 rushing yards. Westbrooks caught seven passes for 94 yards and added 22 yards on an intended pass that was ruled behind Fisher, making the play a run.

DeMarcus Henderson had a 30-yard kickoff return, and Chad Dobbins totaled 99 yards rushing and passing coming of an injury

Cory Salazar received Defensive Player of the Game honors for what was also the Southern California Football Association Bowl after making 13 tackles.

Witzmann also had a sack, 1.5 tackles for losses and two quarterback hurries to top off his night. Also on defense,

David Moodie blocked a field goal (along with six tackles).

Devin Taverna, like the previous two playing his final game as a Comet, contributed 10 tackles and made a spectacular play to recover a fumble when a Cerritos player nearly returned an on-side kick attempt in the final minute for a touchdown, when the ball came out of his hands near the goal-line.

Jeremiah Kose made eight tackles, Eugene Lott five.

Witzmann's new single-season tackles mark gives him two Palomar records. Earlier in the season, his 19 tackles in a single game against El Camino broke Robbie Robinson's record of 15 set against Orange Coast in 1998.

Sovacool, the old single-season record holder, went on to play for Northern Arizona University, was a Palomar assistant and is now the head coach at La Costa Canyon High School. Robbie Robinson went on to play for Colorado.

Cerritos advanced to 8-3 and will visit two-time defending national champion Mt. SAC (10-1), a 34-7 semifinal winner over El Camino, for the Southern California title next Saturday. The winner plays at either City College of San Francisco or Fresno City College for the state championship on Dec. 10.

Palomar's season ends at 7-4.

GAME STATS  |  SEASON


ABOVE: Palomar tight end (8) catches a first-down pass from David Fisher just in-bounds in the third quarter last Saturday as the Comets won in the rain at Grossmont last week. BELOW: Austin Dennis sets up a TD with this 45-yard run on his only carry from scrimmage. -- Photos by Hugh Cox

Comets vs. Cerritos for spot in SoCal title game

ESCONDIDO  (11-18-11) -- Palomar will attempt to advance to the Southern California Community College Playoffs championship game for the second time in three years on Saturday when the Comets host Cerritos on Saturday evening at Wilson Stadium.

Kickoff is slated for 5 p.m.

Palomar, ranked No. 15 in the nation by both the J.C. Grid-Wire and JCGridiron.com and second-seeded in the playoffs due to its power ranking -- will be trying to beat Cerritos for the second time this season. The Comets won the team's regular-season match-up 41-27 on Sept. 10 at Cerritos.

The Falcons come in ranked No. 10 in the nation by the Grid-Wire and No. 18 nationally by JCG

Palomar, which has Southern Conference Offensive Player of the Year David Fisher at quarterback, brings a four-game winning streak into Saturday's game.

The biggest win in the streak was a 44-41 victory over Saddleback two weeks ago on a 28-yard field goal by Cameron Mercado with 3 seconds remaining, a victory that knocked the Gauchos out of a playoff berth and into a bowl game against Riverside Community College on Saturday.

Starting running back Chad Dobbins will return for the Comets on Saturday after missing the second half against Grossmont with an injury.

PALOMAR GAME DAY
The Match-Up: Cerritos (7-3, ranked No. 10 nationaly by the J.C.Grid-Wire and No. 18 nationally by JCGridiron.com) at  Palomar (7-3, ranked No. 15 nationally by both the Grid-Wire and  JCGridiron.com)
Day, Date, Time: Saturday, Nov.`19, 5 p.m.
Site: Wilson Stadium, Escondido High School
Radio: KKSM-1320 AM;  Cox Digital Cable Channel 958; http://www.palomar.edu/kksm/live.asp
This Year's Earlier Score: Palomar 41, Cerritos 27 on Sept. 10
Probable Palomar Starters
OFFENSE
PLAYER HT / WT YR HIGH SCHOOL / PREVIOUS COLLEGE
QUARTERBACK
David Fisher 6-1  215 So Vista / University of Nevada
Other Notable: D.J. Zapata -- Mission Hills / University of Montana
RUNNING BACK
Chad Dobbins 5-10 190  Fr Mission Hills
Other Notable Running Backs: Joel Yosevitch, Cherokee (Marlton, N.J.); Anthony Walker -- Mira Mesa; Demetrius McDondle, Columbine (Littleton, CO); Austin Dennis -- Scripps Ranch; Jermaine Carter, San Diego
FULLBACK
Joey McFadden 5-10  235 Fr Vista
Other Notable Fullback: Tyler Faupouli, El Camino
RECEIVER
Alex Wheat 6-5   210 Fr Alpharetta (Alpharetta, GA)
RECEIVER
Kyle Greenwood 6-1  190 So Scripps Ranch
or      
Michael Hodges 6-3  202 Fr Monte Vista
RECEIVER
Nigel Westbrooks 6-3   190 So Mission Hills
Other Notable Wide Receiver:; Cameron Remy, Fallbrook
SLOT RECEIVER
Dallas Butler 6-2  210 So Mission Hills
TIGHT END
Cory Soto 6-8  255 So La Costa Canyon
LEFT TACKLE
Nate Devan 6-6  290 Fr Temecula Chaparral
LEFT GUARD
A.J. Kaplan 6-5  280 Fr Faith Lutheran (Las Vegas, NV)
CENTER
Jose Zuniga 6-2  290 So San Marcos
Other Notable CeNter: David Villanueva, Escondido
RIGHT GUARD
Doug Saeks 6-6   282 Fr Westview (Beaverton, OR)
Other Notable Guards: Carlos Pacheco, El Camino
RIGHT TACKLE
Kolby Drew 6-5  255 Fr Rancho Buena Vista
Other Notable Tackle: Michael Hendrick, Escondido
DEFENSE
PLAYER HT / WT YR HIGH SCHOOL / PREVIOUS COLLEGE
END
Carson Paopao 6-4  243 So Notre Dame Catholic (Burlington, Ontario, Canada)
END
David Moodie 6-3  205 So Calvary Murrieta (Murrieta)
Other Notable Defensive Ends: Eugene Lott, Miami Northwestern (Miami, FL) / Coffeyville CC (KS); Anthony Bolton, Escondido
TACKLE
Brandon Taele-Durham 5-10  230 Fr Vista
TACKLE
Shiane Tupua 6-0  280 Fr Banning (Wilmington)
or
Junior Cortez 6-3  250 Fr Orange Glen
Other Notable Tackles: Eric Aunese, Mission Hills/Ft. Lewis State; Ofisa Kose, Vista
OUTSIDE LINEBACKER
Jeremiah Kose 6-2  225 Fr Vista
OUTSIDE LINEBACKER
Shanta Chaloux 6-0  205 Fr Valley Center
Other Notable Outside Linebacker: Patrick Loughlin -- Spanaway (Spanaway, WA)
MIDDLE LINEBACKER
Adam Witzmann 6-0  240 So La Costa Canyon
Other Notable Middle Linebacker: Tyler Faapouli, El Camino
CORNER
Brandon Green 6-1  160 So Rainer Beach (Seattle, WA) / Central Washington University
CORNER
Brandon Joseph 5-10  175 So Miami Northwestern (Miami, FL)
Other Notable Corners:; Jonathan  Simpson (Lincoln); ; Eric Dobbins, Oceanside; DaMarcus Henderson, Mar Vista
STRONG SAFETY
Cory Salazar 5-0  185 Fr Murrieta Valley
FREE SAFETY
Devin Taverna 6-1  185 So Oceanside
Other Notable Safeties: Chris Lazarz, Dr. Michael Krop (Miami, FL)
SPECIAL TEAMS
PLAYER HT/WT YR HIGH SCHOOL / PREVIOUS COLLEGE
FIELD GOAL, EXTRA POINTS, KICKOFFS
Cameron Mercado 6-0  170  Fr Kahuku (Kahuku, Oahu, HI)
HOLDER
Kyle Greenwood 6-1  190 So Scripps Ranch
LONG SNAPPER (PAT, FIELD GOALS, PUNTS)
Riley Wilson 5-10 185 Fr Escondido
KICKOFF RETURNERS
Austin Dennis 5-7  165 Fr Scripps Ranch
Michael Hodges 6-3  202 Fr Monte Vista
PUNT RETURNER
Austin Dennis 5-7  165 Fr Scripps Ranch
or      
Anthony Walker 5-9  185 So Mira Mesa / University of Charleston
Other Notable Punt Returner: Michael Hodges, Monte Vista
PUNTER
Rocco Hemphill 5-11 190 So Ramona

Palomar quarterback David Fisher, shown diving for a crucial first down in the second half of last Saturday's 34-31 victory over Grossmont, is the Southern Conference Offensive Co-Player of the Year. -- Photo by Hugh Cox

Fisher Co-Player of Year; 7 Comets first team

MISSION VIEJO  (11-12-11) -- Southern Conference coaches have voted Palomar quarterback David Fisher as conference Offensive C-Player of the Year along with Saddleback quarterback Ben Gomez.

Fisher, out of Vista High School and a transfer from the University of Nevada, will help lead the Comets into a Southern California semi-final playoff match-up with Cerritos on Saturday at 5 p.m. at Escondido's Memorial Field.

Seven Comets were selected to the all-conference first team. Joining Fisher, a sophomore, on offense were sophomore wide receiver Nigel Westbrooks (Mission Hills High School), freshman running back Chad Dobbins (Mission Hills), and freshman kicker Cameron Mercado (Kahuku, Oahu, Hawaii).

Palomar players making the defensive first team were inside linebacker Adam Witzmann (La Costa Canyon), outside linebacker Jeremiah Kose (Vista) and freshman safety Eric Paopao (El Camino).

Voted to the second-team on offense: center Jose Zuniga (San Marcos), guard A.J. Kaplan (Faith Lutheran, Las Vegas), guard Doug Saeks (Westview, Beaverton, Oregon), tackle Nate Devan (Chaparral, Temecula) and receiver Alex Wheat (Alpharetta, Alpharetta, Georgia).

Second-team defensive selections: end David Moodie (Calvary Muttieta) and return specialist Austin Dennis (Scripps Ranch).

Honorable mention selections on offensive: tackle Kolby Drew (Rancho Buena Vista), tight end Cory Soto (La Costa Canyon) and slot receiver Dallas Butler (Mission Hills).

Honorable mention defensive selections: Brandon Taele-Durham (Vista), end Eugene Lott (Miami Northwestern, Miami, Florida), corner Brandon Green (Rainer Beach, Seattle), corner Brandon Green (Miami Northwestern) and safety Devin Taverna (Oceanside).


ABOVE: Palomar receiver Nigel Westbrooks hurdles a Grossmont defender after catching a David Fisher pass.. -- Photo by Hugh Cox. MIDDLE RIGHT: Fisher breaks off a 24-yard run on a keeper as an unidentified Grossmont player (background) looks to see what happened to his helmet, which was knocked off his head. -- Photo by Hugh Cox.. BELOW LEFT: Joel Yosevitch, who rushed for 108 yards after replacing the injured Chad Dobbins, follows guard Doug Saeks (72)..-- Photo by Rick Rowell. BELOW RIGHT: Punter Rocco Hemphill handles a slippery high snap in the rain. He got the kick off.. -- Photo by Hugh Cox. LOWER LEFT: Tight end Cory Soto, who made three big catches along with another big game blocking.-- Photo by Rick Rowell

Comets down G-House, host Cerritos in semis

EL CAJON (11-12-11) -- Palomar rushed for 324 yards on Saturday, overcoming rival Grossmont and a relentless rain that lasted throughout the game, to win its regular season football finale 34-31.

The Comets (7-3, 4-1 in the Southern Conference), finished in second place in the conference behind two-time defending mythical national champion Mt. SAC and will host Cerritos (7-3) to begin the four-team Southern California playoffs on Saturday at 5 p.m. at Wilson Stadium in Escondido.

Palomar benefited from some huge performance behind dominant offensive line blocking as it rolled up 511 yards total on an afternoon during which neither offense seemed affected by the rain as the two teams combined for 1,009  yards.

Chad Dobbins ran for a pair of 1-yard touchdowns before leaving the game late in the first half with a lower leg injury.

Joel Yosevitch replaced Dobbins in the second half and rushed for 108 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown.

Austin Dennis broke off a 45-yard run on his only carry from scrimmage to set up a TD.

David Fisher scored on a 1-yard quarterback sneak and passed to Alex Wheat for a 9-yard touchdown. He finished with 242 yards total offense, 187 of it coming on 13 completions on25 attempts.

Fisher connected three times each to 6-foot-8, 255-pound tight end Cory Soto (68 yards receiving, including a 28-yarder to set up a touchdown) and Wheat.

Rocco Hemphill got the Comets out of trouble with punts into the wind under heavy pressure.

And Cameron Mercado, despite being clobbered along with holder Kyle Greenwood after a bad snap on a PAT attemptput the ball through the uprights in the wind and rain on all four extra points he was able to get off. The extra points make him 44-for-44 for the season.

On the defensive side of the ball, linebacker Jeremiah Kose had six tackles, recovered a fumble, broke up a pass and made the defensive play of the game in the first quarter.

Kose ran down and knocked Grossmont's Tucker Spruill out of bounds at the 3-yard line at the end of a 40-yard run to prevent a toucdown. Grossmont then fumbled into the end zone on firwt-and-goal and David Moodie recovered the ball for a touchback.

The Comets then drove 80 yards to take a 14-point lead on Dobbins' second touchdown.

Safety Devin Taverna and middle linebacker Adam Witzmann each  had eight tackles, including a tackle for a loss. Taverna also broke up two passes.

Jonathan Simpson intercepted a pass late in the fourth quarter, after Grossmont was out of timeouts, and Fisher took three straight knees to end the game as the clock ran out.

Cory Salazar, subbing for the injured Eric Paopao at safety, made five tackles (four solo), including a tackle for a loss.

Palomar defeated Cerritos, the Northern Conference champion, 41-27 at Cerritos the second week fo the season.

The Southern Cal semifinal game also serves as this year's SCFA Bowl, formerly known as the Southern California Bowl. El Camino plays at Mt. SAC at 1 p.m. in the other semifinal game, which also serves as this year's National Bowl.

The Southern California champion will play for the CCCAA State Championship on Dec. 3 against either City College of San Francisco (10-0) or Fresno City College (10-0) at the Northern California champion's stadium.

GAME STATS  |  SEASON


Westbrooks, Mercado are Players of the Week

LONG BEACH (11-08-11) -- The Southern Conference has selected Palomar receiver Nigel Westbrooks (left) and kicker Cameron Mercado (right) as Offensive Player of the Week and Special Teams Player of the Week, respectively, for their performances in Saturday's 44-41 victory over Saddleback.

Westbrooks (left), a sophomore from Mission  Hills High School tied  a Palomar record with four touchdown catches of  3, 11, 24 and 23 yards. Westbrooks had 10 catches in the game for 130 yards.

Mercado, a freshman from Kahuku High in Kahuku, Hawaiii, knocked down a 28-yard field goal out of Kyle Greenwood's hold afer Riley Wilson's snap with 3 seconds left to win the game. Mercado was 3-for-3 for the night on field goals and 5-for-5 on PATs, the latter making him 40-for-40 for 2011.

Mercado (No. 40) is pictured kicking a 25-yard FG for Palomar's first points of the game. (Photo by Hugh Cox)


ABOVE: Chad Dobbins, who ran for a season-high 153 yards on 33 carries for the Comets, picks up yardage behind tackle Nate Devan (73). Both Dobbins and Devan are freshmen.--  Photo by Hugh Cox. BELOW LEFT: Cameron Mercado, another freshman, whose third field goal of the night won the game. BELOW RIGHT: Nigel Westbrooks, who tied a Palomar single-game record with four touchdown receptions.

Mercado's 3rd FG with :03 left beats Saddleback

ESCONDIDO (11-05-11) -- Cameron Mercado kicked a 28-yard field goal with 3 seconds remaining Saturday night, lifting Palomar to a 44-41 victory over nationally No. 9-ranked Saddleback at Wilson Stadium.

Mercado kicked 3-of-3 field goals, Dqvid Fisher passed for 360 yards and four touchdowns, Chad Dobbins rushed for 153 yards on 33 carries, and Nigel Westbrooks caught 10 passes for 130 yards and four touchdowns.

Westbrook's four TD catches tied the Palomar single-game touchdown reception record set by Lafo Malauulu against San Diego Mesa in 1984 and previously tied by Nakoa McElrath vs.Orange Coast in 1999.

Malauulu, now Palomar's receivers coach, tallied five total touchdowns in that 1984 game, which was played on Thanksgiving Day, adding a punt return for his other TD.. Malauulu went on to play for San Jose State and the CFL's British Columbia Lions. McElrath went on to Washington State and the Seattle Seahawks.

Alex Wheat tacked on nine receptioons for  171 yards and, on the defensive side of the ball, Eric Paopao had 10 tackles (8 solo), broke up 2 passes and added a half-tackle for loss before coming out of the game with an injury.

Adam Witzmann also had 10 tackles (5 solo) and 1.5 tackles for losses. Cory Salazar intercepted a pass and Jeremiah Kose recovered a fumble.

Fisher, who connected on 22-of-43 pass attempts without an interception, also rushed for 52 net yards on 15 attempts and scored a TD on a 1-yard run.

Most important, the 22nd-ranked Comets took over undisputed second place in the Southern Conference with one game to play and elevated themselves to within one win of a berth in the four-team Southern California playoffs.

The Fisher-to-Westbrooks touchdown passes went for 3, 11, 24 and 23 yards. Fisher has passed for 24 touchdowns (compared with only five interceptions) in nine games.

By going 3-for-3 on field goals (25, 30 and 28 yards) and 5-for-5 on extra points -- with all of his kicks with Riley Wilson snapping to holder Kyle Greenwood --, Mercado leads Palomar's scorers on the season with 73 points (Westbrooks and Wheat have each scored 60 points). On the season, Mercado is 7-for-11 on field goals and 40-for-40 on PATs.

His three field goals tied him for No. 2 on the all-time Palomar list. Ryan Lux, who went on to kick for Temple, connected on four field goals in 2003. David Napier, who kicked at Colorado State, had three field goals against Cerritos in 1992. Lux made three field goals vs. Long Beach City College in 2002.

Palomar closes the regular season next Saturday at Grossmont at 1 p.m.

GAME STATS  |  SEASON


ABOVE: Freshman linebacker Jeremiah Kose (45) hauls down a Pasadena ball-carrier in Comets' 40-6 victory last week.No. 58 is middle linebacker Adam Mitzmann, the leading tacklerin the Southern Conference. N. 41 is Shana Chaloux. -- Photo by Hugh Cox. BELOW: Freshman Nate Devan (6-foot-6, 290 pounds), Paloomar's starting left tackle on offense

Huge game for No. 9, No. 22 teams in nation

ESCONDIDO (11-4-11) -- Palomar, which resurfaced in the J.C. Grid-Wire national rankings at No. 22 this week, will play No. 9 Saddleback on Saturdsay at 6 p.m. at Wilson Stadium.

The Comets' homecoming game carries huge implocations for the four-team Southern California community college playoffs.

The winner will keep its playoff hopes burning brightly. The loser will only be bowl eligible.

Saddleback, which was ranked No. 6 in the nation a week ago, lost to two-time defending national champion Mt. SAC as the Gauchos saw their unbeaten season and 7-0 record slip away.

With a 40-6 victory over Pasadena City College, Palomar (5-3) jumped back into the post-season playoff pitcture.

The Comets and Gauchos are now tied for second-place in the conference behind Mt. SAC, with the Mounties at 3-0. Palomar, ranked No.  5 in Southern Calikfornia, and Saddleback, which fell to No. 3, are  tied for second place at 2-1. The winner will be 3-1 and alone in second with one regular-season game remaining.

The game will match quarterbacks Ben Gomez of Saddleback and Palomar's David Fisher, the Southern Conference Offensive Player of the Week.

Gomez has who has thrown for 27 touchdowns while being interception seven times whle passing for 327.2 yards per game. Fisher has 20 TD passes and five interceptions and has thrown for 224.8 yards per game. Fisher is considered the more dangerous runner, although Gomez also can run.

Palomar middle linebacker Adam Witzmann leads the Southern Conference with 90 tackles. That puts him fourth in Southern California, but tops the two top-tier conferences (Northern and Southern).

There are also two middle-tier conferences and two lower-tier conferences in Southern California, but all four playoff teams are expected to come from the upper-tier conferences.

"It's a playoff game, basically," Palomar coach Joe Early said. "They're big, physical, play fast and are well-coached. We have to match their speed, intensity and execution for all four quarters."


Palomar quarterback David Fisher, the Southern Conference Offensive Player of the Week, runs for aifrst down in a keeper in 40-6 victory over Pasadena City College last Saturday. -- Photo by Hugh Cox

Comets' Fisher honored after 40-6 win over PCC

LONG BEACH (11-2-11) -- Palomar quarterback David Fisher (Vista High School, University of Nevada) has been selected as the Southern California Football Association's Southern Conference Offensive Player of the Week.

Fisher passed for four touchdowns as the Comets routed visiting Pasadena City College 40-6 last Saturday to keep their hopes for a playoff berth alive. He threw for 217 yards against the Lancers.

The Comets are ranked No. 5 among Southern California community colleges football teams.


ABOVE: Adam Witzmann (58) and Brandon  Joseph (2) team up to make a second-quarter tackle in Saturdy's 40-6 rout of Pasadena City College. BELOW: Alex Whea makes a one-handed, 5-yard grab of one of his two touchdown passes from David Fisher with 11 seconds remaioning in the firwst half.. -- Photos by Hugh Cox

4 Fisher TD passes, 15 Witzmann tackles lift PC

ESCONDIDO (10-29-11) -- Palomar stayed alive in its bid to qualify for the Southern California community college football playoffs on Saturday evening by laying a 40-6 Southern Conference beat-down on Pasadena City College at Wilson Stadium.

Quarterback David Fisher passed for four touchdowns, two of them to Alex Wheat for 5 and 30 yards and middle linebacker Adam Witzmann recorded 15 more tackles and recovered a fumble as the Comets advanced to 5-3 on the season, 2-1 in what is considered the nation's toughest community college conference.

The Comets had six take-aways, five on fumble recoveries and the other on an interception. And Brandon Green blocked a Pasadena PAT attempt.

With Mt. SAC's 38-34 victory over previously unbeaten Saddleback,Palomar  can move to within one game of potentially clinching a playoff berth by defeating the Gauchos in the Colmets'  homecoming game next Saturday night.

Fisher (17-for-31, 217 yards) also threw TD passes for 3 yards to Nigel Westbrooks and 5 yards to tight end Cory Soto.

Palomar's other scoring came on 6-yard run by Demetrius McDondle, a safety when PCC's punter stepped back out of the end zone for an intentional safety on a fourth-down play from the 3-yard line, and a 24-yard field goal and five PAT kicks by Cameron Mercado.

The Comets led the Lancers 16-0 after one quarter, 23-6 at halftime and 30-6 after three quarters.

Wheat had six receptions for 64 yards and Kyle Greenwood, Soto and Dallas Butler also had multiple catches for Palomar. In all, 10 Comets caught passes from Fisher and D.J. Zapata, who completed a pass on his first play after entering the game in the fourth quarter.

Chad Dobbins (74 yards on 19 carries, Anthony Walker (49 yards on 10 carries), Joel Yosevitch (36 yards on eight attempts) and McDondle (34 yards on three carries) led the way as Palomar rushed for 179 yards.

Brandon Joseph added 8 tackles, a fumble recovery and a broken-up pass for the Palomar defense. Eric Paopao contributed seven tackles and a half-tackle for a loss. Devin Taverna had six tackles, an interception and a tackle for loss.

Carson Paopao had six tackles, three tackles for losses, a forced fumble and a sack. David Moodie totaled six tackles, 2.5 tackles for losses, a fumble recovery and a sack. Junior Cortez had five tackles, a half-tackle for loss and a half-sack. And Jeremiah Kose added five tackles and a pass break-up -- and had an interception nullified by a penalty.

Cory Salazar and Danny Martinez also recovered fumbles.

GAME STATS  |  SEASON


FROM LEFT: David Fisher, Nigel Westbrooks and Jeremiah Kose.

PC buries Hornets; Kose returns fumble 84 yards

FULLERTON (10-22-11) -- David Fisher passed for 210 yards and three touchdowns, Nigel Westbrooks hauled in six receptions for 108 yards and two TDs and Jeremiah Kose stripped the ball from Fullerton's quarterback and raced 84 yards for a touchdown on Saturday as Palomar buried the Hornets 41-18.

The beat-down got the Comets back over .500 at 4-3 and back on track in the Southern Conference after a loss to two-time defending national champion Mt. SAC to open the conference season one week ago.

Host Fullerton was ranked 21st in the nation by the Kirkland, Washington-based J.C. Grid-Wire coming into the game and was unable to rebound from an upset loss to Pasadena City College last week after the Hornets had opened the season 5-0.

Fisher got Palomar off on the righ tfoot after the Comets received the opening kickoff by hitting on his first three pass attempts, including a 44-yard scoring strike to Westbrooks that put the Comets on top just 1 minute, 37 seconds into the game. Cameron Mercado's first of five extra points, which makes him 30-for-30 for the season, made it 7-0. The Comets never looked back.

Later in the first quarter, Fullerton's Willie Clark fumbled the ball at the end of a 42-yard Rocco Hemphill punt, Patrick Loughlin recovered for the Comets at the Hornets; 5-yard line. On  the first play from scrimmage Fisher hit former Vista High teammate Joey McFadden coming out of the backfield with a 5-yard touchdown pass that made it 14-0 with 10:01 left in the quarter.

And the rout at Fullerton Union High School District Stadium across the street from the Fullerton College campus was on.

The Comets added more touchdowns on a 22-yard Fisher-to-Westbrooks pass, Joel Yosevitch's 3-yard run and Kose's 84-yard score, which went into the books officially as sack, a forced fumble, recovery and TD return and added insult to injury with 7:27 left in the game as it stretched a 34-10 Palomar lead to 41-10.

Mercado also kicked field goals of 22 and 42 yards on  his only attempts of the night and deposited a kickoff from the Comets' 30 through the Fullerton end zone for a touchback.

Kose, who made the evening especially tough for Hornets quarterbacfk Conor Bednarski, finished with a game-high 12 tackles, the sack, forced fumble, a quarterback hurry and two fumble recoveries.

Adam Witzmann added 10 tackles (6 solo) and a broken-up pass. Eric Paopao (8 tackle), Devin Taverna (7 tackles), Carson Paopao (7 tackles), Brandon Green (5 tackles) and Brandon Taele-Durham (5 tackles) joined Kose with big nights defensively.

Westbrook finished the night with six catches for 108 yards and two touchdowns. Alex Wheat had three castaches for 58 yards. And Dennis Austin completed the evening with 94 all-purpose yards that included 58 yards on kickoff returns and 32 yards oon punt returns.

Mercado averaged 61.9 yards for eight kickoffs. And Hemphill desposited four punts inside the Fullerton 20.

Palomar returns home to Wilson Stadium in Escondido next Saturday to host Pasadena City College in another Southern Conference game at 6 p.m.

GAME STATS  |  SEASON


Comets' Kose receives double honors for week

LONG BEACH / SAN DIEGO (10-25-11) -- Palomar football player Jeremiah Kose (left), who had a huge night in Saturday evening's 41-18 rout of Fullerton, has been named Defensive Player of the Week by the Southern Conference and Men's Athlete of the Week for all  sports by the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference.

The Comets play football in the Southern Conference, while the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference is Palomar's home for both most other sports and for the athletic department as a whole.

Kose, a freshman linebacker from Vista High School, stripped the ball away from Fullerton's quarterback, returned it 84 yards for a touchdown and finished the game with a game-high 12 tackles, a sack, a tackle for a loss, a forced fumble, two fumble recoveries and a quarterback hurry.


ABOVE: Austin Dennis' punt return (above) set up a touchdown in Palomar's victory over San Diego Mesa. He also sees action at running back. --  Photo by Hugh Cox.  BELOW: Middle linebacker Adam Witzmann, the Comets' leading tackler.

Comets, No. 21 Hornets (5-1) to play Saturday

FULLERTON (10-21-11) -- Two years ago, Palomar ended Fullerton's season by beating the Hornets in two overtimes in the Southern California community college playoff semifinals.

Last season, the Hornets returned the favor, knocking off the Comets 20-17, a loss that eventually cost Palomar a trip to the post-season.

Saturday night, it will be the Comets' turn to exact revenge when they play the Hornets, 5-1 and ranked No. 21 in the nation by the J.C. Grid-Wire of Kirkland, Washington, at Fullerton Union High School District Stadium, across the street from the Fullerton College camp;us.

Kickoff will be at 6 p.m.

Both teams are in dire need of a victory in what will be the second Southern Conference game for both. The conference is considered the toughest community college league in the nation, and both dropped their conference openers last week.

Fullerton, which came in undefeated, was upset by Pasadena. Palomar lost at home to two-time defending Grid-Wire national champion Mt. SAC after being tied with the Mounties 7-7 at halftime.

"They're solid," coach Joe Early said of the Hornets. "They give issues on offense, defense and special teams. They've given us problems in the past with big plays, especially on special teams..They want to trick you, again especially on special teams, but they have the ability to control the ball control the ball with the run on  offense and, defensively, they're solid out of a basic 4-3 defense. They're front seven is good at stopping the run."


ABOVE: Eugene Lott (left) and Junior Cortez (right) close in on Mt. SAC's Edwin Tillman to drop him for a 1-yard loss on Saturday... --  Photo by Hugh Gerhardt.  BELOW: Kyle Greenwood, who caught six passes for Palomar.

National champs draw away late in the game

ESCONDIDO (10-15-11) -- Palomar gave nationally No. 7-ranked Mt. SAC everything it could handle until late in Saturday afternoon's Southern Conference opener.

But the Comets couldn't put the Mounties away and, after being tied 7-7 both after the first quarter and at halftime,dropped a 27-14 decision to the Mounties at Wilson Stadium.

Mt. SAC (5-1 overall and ranked seventh in the nation by the J.C. Grid-Wire of Kirkland, Washington, wore the Comets (3-3 overall) down and slowly drew away as the second half wore on.

The Comets' first touchdown came on Alex Wheat's fumble recovery in the end zone after the ball squirted loose from Kyle Greenwood at the 1-yard line at the end of a 19-yard reception from David Fisher.

That's the way it remained until Mt. SAC took a 14-7 lead three minutes into the second half. And it remained a seven-point game until the Mounties began to draw away later in the period.

The Comets scored agailn on a 59-yard pass play from D.J. Zapata, who had come into  the game at quarterback, to Wheat with 4:14 to play in the game.

Cameron Mercado added two PAT kicks for Palomar.

Wheat had six receptions for 137 yards, Greenwood six catches for 66 yards. Fisher threw for most of his 194 yards in the first half.

Defensively, the Comets held Mt. SAC in tow for the first 2 1/2 quarters and were led lby middle linebacker Adam Witzmann (13 tackles, 8 solo),  linebacker Jeremiah Kose (9 tackles, 2 sacks) and safety Devin Taverna (8 tackles and two pass break-ups  returning from an injury) and linebacker Shanta Chaloux (8 tackles). Eric Paopao, David Moodie, Brandon Joseph and Shaine Tupua had either seven or eight tackles apiece.

But it was Mt. SAC's running offense and defense that got the last word, and the Mounties also intercepted two passes.

The Molunties held the Comets to minus-9 yards rushing, including 73 negative yards.

GAME STATS  |  SEASON

 

ABOVE: QuarterbackDavid Fisher evades potential Southwestern tacklers in Palomar's season-opening 45-13 victory over the Jaguars. He threw a touchdown  pass to Nigel Westbrooks on the play. Fisher will help lead the Comets against Mt. SAC, which has won two straight national championships, Saturday afternoon in Escondido... --  Photo by Hugh Cox.  BELOW: Safety Devin Taverna, who will return to Palomar's lineup after missing two straight games with an injury.

Comets host 2009, 2010 national champ Mt. SAC

ESCONDIDO (10-14-11) -- Palomar and two-time defending state and national champion Mt. SAC will renew one of the most competitive rivalries in c0mmunity college football on Saturday afternoon.

Kickoff for the Southern Conference opener matcing the 4-1 Mounties, ranked No. 7 in the nation by the J.C. Grid-Wire of Kirkland, Washington, and the 3-2 Comets will be at 1 p.m. at Escondido High School's Wilson Stadium.

The Comets will be trying to beat Mt. SAC for the third time in the teams' last five meetings.

Two years ago, the Mounties defeated Palomar in the Southern California championship game on their way to state and national titles. Last season, Mt. SAC held on to beat the Comets 20-17.

This came after the Comets beat the Mounties 42-7 in2006 and 31-23 in 2007. The teams did not play each other in 2008.

Palomar, which won its first three games, then dropped back-to-back heartbreakers to Santa Ana in two overtimes and El Camino 28-23 two weeks ago, benefited from a bye last week to get slightly healthier in what has been a devasting season of injuries.

The Comets get two defensive starters back Saturday. Devin Taverna, who along with middle linebacker Adam Witzmann is the heart and soul of their team, returns at free safety. Brandon Taele-Durham returns at defensive tackle.


Schwab, ASU are 18th after downing Lee, Utah

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah / ATLANTA, Georgia  (10-8-11) -- Arizona State right guard Brice Schwab and Arizona State moved up to No. 18 in the nation in the Associated Press poll Sunday.

This came after the Sundevils pinned a 35-14 loss on Utah on Saturday on the road to advance to 5-1 on the season..

The Pac-12 game at the Utes' Rice-Ecclas Stadium provided a match-up of former Palomar teammates Schwab, a 6-foot-7, 305-pound senior, and Martavious "Mo" Lee (above right), who missed Utah's 2010 season with a hamstring injury and is making his Division I debut as a junior this season at cornerback.

Lee had four tackles for Utah on Saturday, second best among the Utes' corners and safeties. He  made the switch from wide receiver, the position he played for the Comets, to corner in spring practice.

ASU's victory set up a trip to Eugene, Oregon, to face the ninth-ranked Oregon Ducks this upcoming Saturday.

Meanwhile, there was another ex-Comet vs. ex-Comet matchup on Saturday at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, where running back Tyler Lavea helped lead Murray State to a 48-24 victory over host Georgia State and tight end Arthur williams.

Lavea led the Racers in the game with 85 yards rushing on 12 carries and is averaging 7.3 yards per carry for Murray State after missing the season opener vs. Louisville on the road, when the Racers dropped a 21-9 decision. Lavea has rushed for 153 yards on 21 carries for 3-3 Murray State.

Williams, utilized mainly as a blocking tight end, failed to catch a pass on Saturday, but has three receptions for 47 yards and a touchdown on the season for Georgia State.


ABOVE: Nigel Westbrooks runs for yardage after catch of a David Fisher pass to gain backmost of the yardage lost on the previous play on a sack.. BELOW LEFT: Running back Chad Dobbons turns a pass from Fisher (background, No. 1) into a 12-yard gainer from deep in Palomar territory. -- Photos by Hugh Cox. BELOW RIGHT: Safety Eric Paopao, who had eight tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery for the Comets.

Comets can't hold leads, fall to No. 11 El Camino

(Updated on 10-3-2011 at 11 a.m.) ...

ESCONDIDO (10-1-11) -- Palomar was unable to hold leads of 10-7 in the second quarter and 17-14 after three quarters against El Camino College on Saturday night at Wilson Stadium.

The Comets also couldn't stop El Camino twice after pinning it inside its own 10-yard line and eventually dropped a 28-23 non-conference decision to the nationally No. 11-ranked Warriors.

Relentlessly chased around the field all night by one of the country's toughest and most aggressive community college defenses, David Fisher somehow broke loose to throw for 327 yards, often off-balance on the dead run.

Fisher completed  21-of-44 attempts including touchdowns of 4 yards to tight end Cory Soto in the first quarter and 26 yards to Alex Wheat on the final play of the game. Fisher also ran for a touchdown.

Nigel Westbrooks hauled in six catches for 108 yards, including a 47-yarder to set up the touchdown to Soto, while Wheat and Kyle Greenwood each had three receptions.

Chad Dobbins rushed for 59 tough yards onj 16 carries and, defensively Brandon Green ((9 tackles, 6 solo, 4 pass break-ups), Adam Witzmann (9 tackles, 7 solo, tackle for loss for 9 yards), Eric Paopao (8 tackles, interception, fumble recovery)and Jeremiah Kose (8 tackles) led the Comets.

Palomar's Rocco Hemphill put El Camino inside its own 1-yard line on his first kick of the game. It was the first time a Palomar punter has pinned an opponent inside the 1-yard line.since Matt Kovacevich, who went on to start two seasons at the University of Utah, pulled off the same accomplishment twice during the 2002 season.

Kovacevich went on to help lead Utah to a 35-7 Fiesta Bowl victory over Pitt in the first appearance ever by a non-BCS team in a BCS bow, on Jan. 1,  2005 as a senior. Kovacevich and the Utes finished the 2004 season rankedk No. 4 in the nation.

El Camino moved to 5-0 at the midway point of the regular season. Palomar, which has been decimated by injuries, saw its record slip to 3-2 after winning three straight games to begin the season.

The Comets, who lost yet another player to an apparent season-ending injury and a second by ejection in the game, will have a  bye next week  before hosting defending state and national champion Mt. SAC on Saturday, Oct. 15, at 1 p.m.

GAME STATS  |  SEASON

-----

'Comets squander chances in loss to El Camino' -- North County Times, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2011


ABOVE: Quarterback David Fisher, running for a first down in 42-14 victory over San Diego Mesa, is a dual threat for the Comets both rushing and passing. BELOW: Middle linebacker Adam Witzmann, who had 19 tackles vs. Santa Ana last week.

No. 23 Comets home to USA No. 11 El Camino

ESCONDIDO (9-30-11) -- Palomar will face a huge test on Saturday evening when the Comets return home to continue their 2011 football season.

The Comets, 3-1 and ranked No. 23 in the nation by the JCGrid-Wire of Kirkland, Washngton, will face No. 11-ranked El Camino, which comes in 4-0.

Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m. at Wilson Stadium on the campus of Escondido High School.

Palomar came back from a 14-0 halftime deficit to upset El Camino 25-21 a year ago in Torrance, when the Warriors also came in with a 4-0 record.

"We have to be in a continual state of urgency," said Palomar coach Joe Early,whose team lost in two overtimes last week at Santa Ana 52-45.. El Camino is always very athletic, and can cause you a lot of prolems because of their athletticism."

Quarterback David Fisher passed for three touchdowns, two to Alex Wheat, and ran for another against the Dons. On the other side of the ball, middle linebacker Adam Witzmann made 19 tackles for the Comets, including 2.5 tackles for losses.

Palomar has been attempting to overcome numerous injury problems, primarily on defense, and will have a bye next week when Early hopes it will have an opportunity to get reasonably healthy. The most costly injury has been to safety Devin Taverna, who is expected to return against Mt. SAC in two weeks.

Against El Camino, however, the Comets will simply have to battle through the injuries.

"We'll have to be better on defense and special teams, and our offense has got to continue to put points on the board," Early said.

Palomar has scored at least 40 points in every game to date.


ABOVE: Nigel Westbrooks gains extra yards after hauling in a pass from David Fisher on Saturday at Santa Ana. -- Photo by Scott Lawson.  BELOW LEFT: Fisher, who was 14-for-15 passing as Palomar took a 24-14 halftime lead and eventually burned the Dons for 351 yards in total offense. BELOW RIGHT: Michael Taele, who returned a kickoff 82 yards for a third-quarter touchdown and scored on a 3-yard run in the fourth quarter

PC can't convert opportunities, drop shootout

SANTA ANA (9-24-11) -- On an afternoon quarterback David Fisher burned Santa Ana College for 351 yards in total offense and Palomar put 40-plus points on the scoreboard for the fourth straight game, the Comets came up excrutiatingtly empty-handed on Saturday.

The Comets were unable to finish off the Dons in the fourth quarter after leading by 10 points with less than five minutes to play, then missed a field goal on the final play in regulation. And Santa Ana, trailing by a touchdown in the first overtime, came back to win 52-45 in the second OT.

Palomar appeared primed to win the game when kicker Cameron Mercado, who had booted a 48-yarder earlier in the day, lined up to attempt a 45-yarder with 1.6 seconds left in regulation.

The Comets began to celebrate when the kick was long enough and high enough and appeared to them to be good. But it was ruled wid left, sending the game to overtime.

After the teams battled to a 7-7 standoff in the first overtime, the Dons (2-2) handed the Comets (3-1)  their first loss with the only touchdown in the second OT, capping a shootout during which the two teams combined for 97 points, sn incredible 220 plays and 1,025 yards in offense.

Fisher, who had thrown touchdown passes of 24 and 40 yards to Alex Wheat (4 catches for 84 yards) in regulation, gave the Comets a 7-0 lead in the initial overtime on a 5-yard run on which he negotiated a long dive into the end zone at Santa Ana Stadium's Eddie West Field.

Fisher, who completed 14 of 15 passes in the first half for 158 yards and the two touchdowns to Wheat, finished the afternoon 23-for-33 for 275 yards. He rushed for 76 net yards on 15 carries.

Michael Taele joined Wheat with two touchdowns for Palomar. on an 82-yard kickoff feturn and a 3-yard run.

The Comets also scored on a 2-yard run by Chad Dobbins and on five PATs by Mercado.

Nigel Westbrooks had six catches for 64 yards, one on a pass from Fisher to set up his TD in the first overtime. Dallas Butler added four receptions for 51 yards.

Middle linebacker Adam Witzmann had a huge day defensively for Palomar with 19 tackles and 2.5 tackles for losses. Safety Eric Paopao contributed 18 tackles (9 solo, including a tackle for a loss). Outside linebacker Keremiah Kose added 12 tackles, a sack,1.5 tackles for losses and a quarterback hurry.

David Moodie and Salazar also were in double figures in tackles.

All the above, on a day in which Santa Ana ran off 113 plays.

Palomar will host El Camino College next Saturday at Wilson Stadium in Escondido at 6 p.m. The Comets then draw a bye before playing host to defending national champion Mt. SAC the following Saturday at 1 p.m.

"If anyone thinks this gets any easier, it doesn't," Palomar coach Joe Early said.

GAME STATS  |  SEASON


ABOVE: Adam Witzmann (58) and Jeremiah Kose (45) greet Mesa's Chyl Robinson for a short gain on a shovel pass. Larry East (37) and Shaunta Chaloux (41) are at left. BELOW LEFT: Alex Whe tleaps to make touchdown catch of David Fisher's 14-yard pass, which came with 4:21 left in the first quarter and was Wheat's first of two TD receptions.. -- Photos by Hugh Cox. BELOW RIGHT: Nigel Westbrooks, who had five receptions and caught a touchdown pass from Fisher

Comets stay unbeaten vs. Mesa since 1985

ESCONDIDO (9-17-11) -- David Fisher passed for three touchdowns and ran for one on Saturday at Wilson Stadium as Palomar remained unbeaten against San Diego Mesa since 1985.

The Comets, ranked No. 17 nationally by the J.C. Grid-Wire of Kirkland, Washington, rolled up 568 yards in total offense to win easily 42-14.

The Comets jumped out to a 35-0 lead five minutes into the second half. Mesa, helped along by 138 yards in Palomar penalties, came back to male the game appear marginailly more respectable for themselves as Palomar coach Joe Early played all his reserves.

Mesa's second touchdown came on a blocked punt recovery in the end zone.

Fisher threw two touchdown passes to Alex Wheat for 14 and 17 yards and a TD pass to Nigel Westbrookst for 23 yards.

Fisher also ran for a 5-yard touchdown and the Comets' other points came on a 16-yard touchdown run by Michael Taele, an 18-yard TD run by Demetrius McDondle and Cameron Mercado's six PAT kicks on six attempts.

Mercado also had two kickoffs for touchbacks.

Linebacker Jeremiah Kose (7 tackles, 6 solo, 1 sack) led Palomar defensively. Adam Witzmann had 6 tackles (5 solo) and a sack, Brandon Taele-Durham contributed 6 tackles (5 solo) and a tackle for a loss.

Devin Taverna also had 6 tackles, 4 of them solo. David Moodie totaled 5 tackles, including 3 sacks. Eric Paopao and Winston Pinto also had 5 tackles each.

Cory Salazar returned an interception 34 yards to the Mesa 15 in the final minute. Palomar back-up quarterback D.J. Zapada then took a knee to end the game.

GAME STATS  |  SEASON


Dempsey's NFL record 63-yd FG mark tied again

DENVER (9-12-11) -- Palomar alum Tom Dempsey's NFL record 63-yard field goal, which gave the host New Orleans Saints a victory over the Detroit Lions as time expired on Nov. 8, 1970 in New Orleans, wastied for the second time on Monday night in Denver.

Sebastian Janikowski tied the mark to help the Oakland Raiders defeat the Denver Broncos 23-20.  "The ball really carries here," Janikowski admitted after the game. The Broncos' Jason Elon previously tied Dempsey's record, also in Denver,.in 1998.

Dempsey, who never played four-year college football after Palomar, was a defensive tackle and kicker in football, a discus thrower in track and a heavyweight wrestler for the Comets, despite being born with only half a right (kicking) foot and a surgically-fashioned claw at the end of a short right arm. The half-foot and short right arm, which was about three-quarters of the length of a "normal" person's, both were a result of birth defects.

He was an All-Star Little League and Pony League player growing up in Encinitas, catching the ball with his left hand, then removing his glove and putting it under his right arm so he could throw the ball, also with his left hand.

Along with the Saints, Dempsey played for the Phildelphia Eagles, Los Angeles Rams, Houston Oilers and Buffalo Bills in the NFL, retiring at the conclusion of the 1979 season.

Dempsey's, one of football's last straight-on kickers before soccer-style kickers took over, was criticized as having an "advantage" because he was allowed to kick with a specially-made half shoe with a flat front. "An advantage?," Dempsey said at the time. "You try kicking a 63-yard field goal with half of a foot."

Dempsey had kicked a 72-yard field goal in practice at Palomar.

He was the first Palomar player to make it to the NFL, setting the stage for 22 more Comets to follow.


ABOVE: Palomar kicker Cameron Mercado had his second straight big game during 2-0 Palomar's 41-27 win at Cerritos out on Saturday night (above) and has been named Southern Conference Special Teams Player of the Week. -- Photo by Hugh Cox. BELOW: Adam Witzmann, the Comets' middle linebacker and the conference's DefensIve Player of the Week.

Witzmann, Mercado are Players of the Week

LONG BEACH (9-14-11) -- Palomar's Adam Witzmann and Cameron Mercado have been selected as Southern Conference Defensive and Special Teams Players of the Week, respectively, for their performances in Saturday's 42-27 win at Cerritos.

Witzmann, the Comets' sophomore 6-foot-0, 240-pound middle linebacker from La Costa Canyon High School, recorded 13 tackles, three sacks and 4.5 tackles for losses as Palomar advanced to 2-0 on the season.

Witzmann was selected as Male Athlete of the Week y the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference, Palomar's home conference for sports other than football.

Mercado, a red-shirt freshman from Kahuku High School in Kuhuku, Oahu, Hawaii, was lights-out kicking the ball for the second straight week. Mercado kicked field goals of 41 and 48 yards, was 5-for-5 on PATs and buroed three kickoffs deep into the end zone for touchbacks.


 

ABOVE: Running bacl Chad Dobbins powers into the end zone for his second touchdown in  Palomar's 41-27 non-conference victory over Cerritos  on Saturday night. .-- Photo by Hugh Cox. BELOW LEFT: Middle linebacker Adam Witzmann, who had 13 tackles, 3 sacks and 4.5 tackles for losses. BELOW RIGHT: Outside linebacker Jeremiah Kose, who contributed 10 tackles, had a tackle for a loss and broke up a pass.

Comets score 28 points in 4th quarter, go to 2-0

NORWALK (9-10-11) -- Palomar exploded for 28 fourth-quarter points on Saturday night to beat Cerritos for the third time in four years 41-27 Saturday night and advance to 2-0 on the season.

The Comets and Falcons were tied  27-27 late in the fourth quarter when Palomar took the lead for good on a 1-yard run by Chad Dobbins with 2:22 remaining. It was Dobbins' second score of the night, and was set up by a quarterback keeper by David Fisher down to the 2-yard line.

The Comets then clinched the victory with 1:59 left when safety Devin Taverna intercepted Brandon Decker's pass intended for Carson Manning and returned it 41 yards for their second touchdown in 23 seconds.

The two late 0cores culminated an evening during which Palomar overcame a 403 yards to 259 yardage advantage by Cerritos as it got big-time efforts from:

  • Cameron Mercado, who kicked field goals of 41 and 48 yards, tacked on 5-of-5 extra points and deposited three kickoffs deep into the end zone for touchbacks.

  • Middle linebacker Adam Witzmann, who contributged 13 tackles (7 solo), 3 sacks for 14 yards and 4.5 tackles for losses

  • Outside linebacker Jeremiah Kose, who had 10 tacklesa tackle for a loss and a quarterback hurry

  • Taverna, who along with his touchdown interception had 8 tackles and returned a punt 55 yards

  • Dobbins, who rushed for 67 tough yards and two touchdowns, the other one going for 5 yards to break a 13-13 tie after three quarters.

  • Receiver Alex Wheat, who caught 4 passes from Fisher for 105 yards, including a 47-yard touchdown pass from Fisher that gave the Comets a lk27-20 lead with 8:50 to play

  • Receiver Kyle Greenwood, who caught a 14-yard TD pass from Fisher with 4 seconds remaining in the first quarter, which broke a scoreless tie.

  • Michael Taele, who returned a punt 53 yards to set up a Mercado field goal

  • Erik Aunese, who blocked a PAT attempt that enabled Palomar to hold onto an early 7-6 lead

Brandon Joseph and Brandon Taele-Durham each contributed nine tackles. Jonathan Simpson intercepted a pass. And punter Rocco Hemphill pinned the Falcons at their 10- and 11-yard lines.

It was a real big win. Cerritos is a very good team. We beat the best 0-2 team you'll lsee," Palomar offensive coordinator Dan Early said.

Head coach Joe Early's Comets finally come home next Saturday (Sept. 17) to play their home opener against San Diego Mesa at Wilson Stadium in Escondido at 6 p.m.

GAME STATS  |  SEASON


Southern Conference Special Teams Player of the Week Rocco Hemphill gets off his first punt of the evening on Saturday at Southwestern. Hemphill's protector is Shanta Chaloux (No. 41)

Southern Conference honors Comets' Hemphill

SCFALONG BEACH (9-6-11) -- Palomar punter Rocco Hemphill has been selected as Southern Conference Special Teams Player of the Week by the Southern California Football Association.

In Saturday evening's 45-13 non-conference, season-opening victory over Southwestern, the 5-foot-11, 190-pound sophomore from Ramona High School got off a long punt of 50 yards.

Hemphill pinned the Jaguars at their own 1-yard line on a punt from the Southwestern 38 and alanded another punt to the 10-yard line and was returned 2 yards to the 12.


ABOVE: This point-after by Cameron Mercado, the latest in a long line of big-time kicking prospects at Palomar who had an outstanding night in his debut, brings the score to 28-7 at halftime...BELOW LEFT: Adam Witzmann (62) out of La Costa Canyon High School and Jeremiah Kose (45) from Vista High team  up to bring down Southwestern quarterback Brett Nelson, holding him to a short gain. J.J. Sio is in the foreground. BELOW RIGHT: Joel Yosevitch scores the Comets' third touchdown on a 21-yard run early in the second quarter. -- Photos by Hugh Cox

Fisher (5 TDs), PC top Jags 13th time in a row

CHULA VISTA (9-3-11) -- Palomar, making a strong argument that its No. 21 pre-season national ranking by the J.C. Grid-Wire / JCFootball.com is too low, rolled to a 45-13 season-opening victory over Southwestern on Saturday evening.

It was the 13th straight time the Comets have defeated the Jaguars dating back to 1988, when they were known as the Apaches, in a series that has not been contested every year.

The game was more one-sided than the final score. The Comets dominated on both sides of the ball, piling up 505 yards in total offense while completely holding the Jaguars' offense in check until the game was way out of reach.

Nevada transfer David Fisher keyed the victory as he threw for three touchdowns, ran for two more, connected on 16-of-24 passes for 215 yards, rushed for 54 net yards on eight carries and added a reception on a pass to himself when the ball was batted back at him by a Southwestern defender.

Fisher's TD passes went for 8 yards to Westbrooks in the first quarter, 18 yards to Dallas Butler later in the first quarter and 14 yards to Westbrooks in the second quarter.

He tacked on two more touchdowns on runs of 9 and 3 yards in the third quarter.

Joel Yosevitch tallied Palomar's other touchdown on an 11-yard run in the second period. He set up the TD with a 10-yard run on the previous play.

Cameron Mercado, the Comets' freshman punter from Kahuku High School in Hawaii, added 6-of-6 extra points, a 37-yard fourth-quarter field goal and kicked off eight times for a 63-yard average and two touchbacks.

Butler contributed seven receptions for 107 yards and one touchdown. Westbrooks had six catches for 61 yards and his two TDs. Chad Dobbins rushed for 82 yards on 10 carries.

The defense's physical, big-play performance was highlighted by end Carson Paopao's 11 tackles (10 solo).

Shanta Chaloux had 8 tackles, (4 solo) and a pass deflection.

Linebacker Jeremiah Kose had 8 tackles (3 solo).

Safety Devin Taverna had 7 tackles (5 solo and caused a fumble.

Safety Eric Paopao added 6 tackles (all solo), recovered a fumble and had a pass deflection.

Patrick Laughlin, Ofisa Kose, Josh Jacko and Eugene Lott also had six tackles apiece.

Cornerback Josh Jacko ran down Southwestern's All-American running back from behind after Aaron Harris from behind on what would have been a breakaway touchdown iln the fourth quaqrter.

Jermaine Carter returned two kickoffs for 74 yards. Austin Dennis returned three punts for 36 yards.

Punter Rocco Hemphill also had a big night with a long of 50 yards. He also pinned the Jaguars at their own 1-yard line and had another punt to the 10.

On the flip side, the Comets lost starting linebacker Ezra Latu for the season with a tibia fracture in the third quarter.

GAME STATS  |  SEASON


 

ABOVE LEFT: Coach Joe Early. -- File Photo by Rick Rowell. ABOVE MIDDLE: Devin Taverna, shown intercepting a pass against Cerritos last season, returns to lead Palomar's secondary. -- File photo by Hugh Cox. ABOVE RIGHT: Jeremy Kose, freshman linebacker from Vista High who was the North Player of the Game at July's Alex Spanos Classic prep all-star game. BELOW LEFT: Nevada transfer David Fisher, who enters Fall drills as the Comets' first-string quarterback. BELOW RIGHT: Quarterback D.J. Zapata, a transfer from the University of Montana


Lee takes his 4.40 40 time to corner for Utah

Mo LeeSALT LAKE CITY, Utah (8-8-11) -- The University of Utah has switched Palomar transfer Martavious "Mo" Lee from receiver to cornerback entering his junior season aa the Utes move from the Mountain West Conference to the Pac-12.

Lee, who has been timed at 4.40 in the 40-yard dash at Utah, made the move late in spring drills.

The Utes will kick off their season at home against Montana State and former Palomar teammate Orenzo Davis, the Bobcats' leading returning rusher, on Thursday evening, Sept. 1. They'll play their first-ever Pac-12 game the following week, on Saturday, Nov. 10, against USC at the Los Angeles Coliseum.
PALOMAR ALUMS ON 4-YR, PRO LEVELS, 2011

4-YEAR COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Player Pos. College / University
Brice Schwab OT Arizona State
Martavious "Mo" Lee CB Utah
Zach Gholson DE University of Memphis
Anthony Young CB Iowa State
Dean Faddis SS Nevada

Chris Bodreaux

FS Nevada
Leilyon Meyers RB UTEP
Matt Christian QB New Mexico State
Sam Tupua C / OG Idaho
Jared Bamber TE Middle Tennessee State
Paul Moore WR Florida Atlantic
Nate Paopao LB Eastern Michigan
C.J. Malauulu MLB Kent State
Nate Ong QB Old Dominion
Tynan Murray QB / LS Western Illinois
Tyler Lavea RB Murray State
Devin Willis CB Northern Arizona
Steven Steiner OT Western Carolina
Arthur Williams TE Georgia State
Orenzo Williams RB Montana State
Alika Valesi DE Portland State
Shane Melbo LB Portland State
Brandon Hribar OT Humboldt State
John Middlemas DL Eastern Kentucky
Richie Mata'afa DE / LB Northern Alabama
Javon Reynolds WR Glenville State
Tyler Seau MLB Delta State
Mike Dobbins G/C Central Washington
Salim Hakim WR Tarleton State
Abu Jalil OG New Mexico Highlands
Corinthian Gray CB Northwood University
Jamar Fleming DT Malone University
Cordell Rodgers DB Benedict
Reggie McGrue DT William Penn
Tanner Hix LB Cal Lutheran
Keith Alpichi LB North Park University
David Motu MLB Nihon University (Tokyo, Japan)

NFL

Tyler Lorenzen TE New Orleans Sainta


Steiner, W. Carolina will open at Georgia Tech

CULLOWHEE, North Carolina (8-2-11) -- Steven Steiner, Palomar's 6-foot-5, 315-pound offensive tackle out of Vista Murrieta High School, has transferred to Western Carolina University, which will kick off the 2011 season at Georgia Tech on Sept. 1 at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time at Grant Field in Atlanta. The game will be aired nationally on ESPN-3.

Steiner played for the Comets in 2009 and 2010 after missing the 2008 season after suffering an injury in a pre-season scrimmage.

Western Carolina is an NCAA Division I FCS school located in Cullowhee, North Carolina.


Ex-defensive captain Bala will coach 'backers

SAN MARCOS (7-27-11) -- Robert Bala, a starting linebacker for Palomar's 2004 and 2005 teams, is the newest addition to the Comets' football coaching staff this Fall, returning to the program as linebackers coach.

Bala returns to Palomar, where he was an All-Mission Conference selection and defensive captain, from Snow  Community College in Ephriaim, Utah, At Snow, he served in the same role, linebackers coach, during the 2009 and 2010 seasons.

The Badgers won back-to-back Top of the Mountain Bowl games, over Grand Rapids (Michigan) in 2009 and Iowa Western in 2010, and earned two final Top Ten rankings in the NJCAA (non-California community colleges) poll, No. 5 in 2009 and No. 7 last season. Nine of Bala's linebackers transferred to four-year colleges, six to Division I and three to Division II.

He began his coaching career in 2008 as linebackers coach at Oceanside High School, which won the CIF San Diego Section Division II championship and was ranked No. 19 in the final USA Today Super High School Football Poll.

Bala played high school football at Oceanside, starting at linebacker for the Pirates' CIF-San Diego Section Division II championship team that was ranked No. 1 in San Diego County.

After his two seasons at Palomar. Bala landed a scholarship to Southern Utah University, a Division I Football Championship Subdivision (Division I-AA) school in Cedar City, Utah, where he started at linebacker and received Academic All-Great West Football Conference honors.

Bala has a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education from Southern Utah University and is currently working on his Master's degree at Concordia University of Irvine. He's single and resides in Oceanside.


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.

 
4-YR. COMMITS, SIGNINGS FOR 2011 SEASON
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.

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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.


2010 season

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.

 
FORMER COMETS IN 2010-11 POST-SEASON
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 GoDaddy.com lBowl
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 JCGridiron.com

LAKE FOREST (11-30-10) -- JCGridiron.com 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 / JCFootball.com 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 
COMETS PLAYING ON 4-YEAR LEVEL IN 2010 SEASON
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)

 


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