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Results tagged “Steve Mooshagian” from College Sports Blog

VC's turnaround has familiarity for Morris

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This isn't the first time a football coach has arrived at Ventura College and, inside three seasons, has the Pirates playing for the Southern California title.

Terry Morris arrived in 1996 with a disciplined, military upbringing and defensive background culled from his playing days at Texas-El Paso.

VC went from 1-9 in 1997 to 9-2 in 1998. In his third season as head coach, in 1999, the Pirates won nine games again and faced Hancock in the Southern California championship game at Nordhoff High.

"I think of how hard Travis Rogers always ran for us," Morris said. "I think of (fullback) Russell Farrar out in front. I think of how we had such a great, local offensive line that probably was undersized in a few positions that played their hearts out.

"It's about character. We were a take-your-lunch-pail to work team."

Thirteen years later, under third-year head coach Steve Mooshagian, the first 10-0 team in school history hosts a Southern California semifinals Saturday night.

The similarities are obvious to Morris.

"They bought in," Morris said. "That's one of the biggest things that we've got going on this year. The youngsters have bought into the package and the coaches that we have here. That's where I see similarities. The same character is out there."

Morris is the second-winningest head coach in school history, going 50-42 in nine seasons before being removed as head coach after the 2005 season.

He had settled into his second act at VC as the chair of the physical education department when Mooshagian drafted him back into the team after his first season.

"I'm very thankful for coach Mooshagian to look me up and ask me to come back and be a part of this staff," Morris said. "A lot of coaches won't do that when there's ex-coaches on the campus, but coach is trying to put the best product on the field. ... I'm having the time of my life again."

Mooshagian gives high marks to his second-year secondary coach.

"I'm a coach's kid," Mooshagian said. "I understand what it's like to be a head coach and have to go back and be an assistant. ... It's not an easy thing to do. You have to respect that. He's gotten back into it and he's done a great job since he's been back. His role has increased."

Morris has coached a secondary that is third in SoCal with 19 interceptions. Cornerbacks Drek Reid and Jordan Howard are both in the top 6 in the region in pass breakups. Safeties Lakeith Murray, Scotty Wong, Matt Arve and Melvin Tavares have all made game-winning plays to extend the winning streak. Reserves like Jalen Oats and Brandon Lockwood make the secondary the team's deepest position.

"It's one of the strongest positions on our team," Mooshagian said. "Terry's been a great teacher for our secondary guys. He's been through it, so he has a calming effect on the defense ... not just on the secondary, but the defense as a whole."

The "Braintrust"

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The defense that is in the top 5 in SoCal in points allowed (21.1), Top 10 in total defense (367.1 yards per game) and has allowed all but one opponent under their season scoring average is the product of an interesting coaching dynamic.

"It's a perfect blend of youth and experience," Ventura coach Steve Mooshagian said. "I will express myself when I need to, but I leave those guys alone. ... You've got to let them coach."

First-year coordinator Tyson Butler manages veteran position coaches Ted Lawrence (defensive line), Gary Anglin (linebackers) and Morris (secondary), who combine for more than a half-century of VC experience.

"It works for us," Morris said. "Coach Butler brings such an amped-up attitude. He tweaks things right and left that makes things even better. He brings a new view to it. ... He's going to become a great coordinator."

As Pirates rest, SoCal regional football playoffs take shape

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Under usual circumstances, a bye week for the final week of the regular season would just mean the Ventura College football season ending seven days early.

But this has been no ordinary season for the Pirates, who have finished 10-0 for the first time in school history, won the SCFA Northern Conference and clinched a berth in next weekend's Southern California semifinals.

"It's a three-game season right now," Ventura coach Steve Mooshagian said this week. "You're in the tournament. There's only six teams that get to do this throughout the state of California and we're one of them."

Mooshagian's team practiced Tuesday and Wednesday, spent Thursday in the gym and took the weekend off, ahead of Sunday's playoff pairings announcement.

"We should know who we're going to play at some point on Sunday," said the third-year Ventura head coach.

The SoCal playoff field will consist of the National Division's three conference champions, plus a wildcard team, and be seeded by the final regional poll.

No. 2 Ventura (10-0) has clinched the Northern Conference.

No. 1 Mount San Antonio (9-0) and No. 3 Riverside City (8-1) -- both 5-0 in conference play -- will determine the Central Conference champion Saturday at 6 p.m. with their showdown in Walnut, which will be broadcast by http://www.SoCalCollegeSports.com.

The Southern Conference is a mess. No. 6 Santa Ana (7-2), No. 7 Saddleback (5-4) and No. 9 Fullerton (5-4) are tied atop the standings at 4-1. Santa Ana, which owns the tiebreaker, can clinch the berth by beating Fullerton Saturday. Should Fullerton triumph, Saddleback can clinch the berth by beating Golden West. Fullerton will advance with a win and a Saddleback loss.

While much of the Pirates' coaching staff is schedule to scout the Mt. SAC-Riverside showdown Saturday, Mooshagian is planning on taking in Santa Ana-Fullerton in person.

"It'll be interesting to see how it plays out," Mooshagian said. "There are about six scenarios in play... We can't control it. I just hope there's no shenanigans involved."

The Mt. SAC-Riverside loser seems to have the inside track on the wild card berth, which is goes to the highest ranked non-champion in the final regional poll. But No. 4 Bakersfield (7-2) and No. 5 Citrus (7-2) could force their way into the discussion by beating Pasadena City (1-8) and No. 8 Los Angeles Harbor (5-4) Saturday.

An 8-2 Riverside and an 8-2 Bakersfield could make for a heck of a wild-card debate Sunday morning, considering, in that scenario, both teams would have lost to the same two teams -- Ventura and Mt. SAC.

Mooshagian is more concerned with what the bracket would look like if Mt. SAC loses to Riverside for the second straight year. Ventura would, most likely, ascend to the top seed, but might not get the benefit of facing the bottom seed.

SCFA bylaws say the seeding committee "may" reseed the field to avoid matching up two conference opponents. In that scenario, five-time defending SoCal champion Mt. SAC would visit VC next week, rather than a potential four-loss team.

"That's my only concern," Mooshagian said. "If we happen to be fortunate to make it through undefeated, then we should play the fourth seed. It shouldn't have to be manipulated so that Mt. Sac and Riverside don't play again."

Battered and bruised

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As it enjoys its bye week, Ventura College football team's biggest issue may be the condition of its offense.

Just 275 yards from the school single-season passing record, quarterback Ebahn Feathers (bruised ribs) was knocked out of the season finale against Pasadena City and did not practice this week.

"We're waiting to see on Ebahn," Ventura coach Steve Mooshagian said. "We're taking it slow with him."

Which means backups Chase Smith and Brad Odeman, who have combined for 64 pass attempts this fall, are preparing to take postseason snaps.

"Obviously, you can't take away what Ebahn has done this season for us... with his huddle presence and leadership skills," Mooshagian said. "But we've got a nice situation in that we've got three quarterbacks that have all played in games."

Starting running back Victor Caro Jr., who was leading the team in touchdowns when he suffered a knee injury in the win at Canyons Oct. 13, hasn't seen the field since and isn't expected to return.

"Don't believe so," said Caro, who is scheduled for surgery Dec. 4.

With potential three quarterbacks, five running backs and eight receivers, Ventura will continue to play offense by committee.

"That's been one of the things that's been really good," Mooshagian said. "We've had a lot of all-purpose guys that have done a lot of things for us."

Easing off the pedal

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The Ventura College football team (9-0) has gone on its school-record winning streak without the benefit of a bye week, which arrives after Saturday's season finale against Pasadena City.

That means the Pirates will have two full weeks between the end of the regular season and the beginning of the playoffs.

"The biggest thing for us over the course of the next two weeks is to make sure we don't beat ourselves up in practice," coach Steve Mooshagian said. "Since the Cerritos game, I have reduced hitting in practice and added more teaching drills. I think that's going to be a real positive.

"We've got a few guys beat up from the bumps of a grueling schedule, but I think we have a chance to be healthier than most."

Back to the drawing board

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Three dramatic finishes in its first four games, including Saturday's quadruple-overtime classic, may have an affect on Ventura College's offensive playbook.

"We've spent a lot of time early in the year working in the red zone," Mooshagian said Saturday. "I think we're going to have to put in a whole another offense because we've used everything.

"We're going to have put some new stuff."

Double dose

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Saturday's quadruple-overtime win earned the Ventura College football team two of the three SCFA Northern Conference Player of the Week awards.

Defensive end Tyshon Lee-Hodges -- a Bakersfield native, no less -- earned the defensive honors by piling up 11 tackles and 2 1/2 sacks in the win over Bakersfield.
Hours after tweeting that he would take a "return to the crib tonight," Ventura CB Jordan Howard earned special teams honors by returning three kickoffs for a 56.3-yard average, including a 92-yard touchdown.

"Jordan was huge," coach Steve Mooshagian said. "He really did change the momentum of the game twice."

Feathers shaking off the rust

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Ventura College quarterback Ebahn Feathers was named SCFA Northern Conference Offensive Player of the Week after completing 27 of 40 passes for 330 yards and two touchdowns, plus two rushing touchdowns, in Saturday's 39-35 win at Los Angeles Harbor.

Ventura coach Steve Mooshagian said the former Fresno State quarterback, who has sat out the last three years, is returning to form.

"He is improving," Mooshagian said. "You can see some of the rust is coming off."

Getting greedy

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A dip in intensity nearly spelled disaster for the Ventura College football team Saturday, when the unbeaten Pirates nearly gave away a 27-point fourth-quarter lead at Los Angeles Harbor.

"I hope we don't have any more of those," Ventura coach Steve Mooshagian said. "I know what happened. We all got greedy. The players got greedy, the coaches got greedy, and we starting letting up."

Rather than worrying about which reserves were going to get which snaps, Mooshagian said the Pirates should have been focused on closing out the opponent.

"We were still doing some things we shouldn't have been doing," Mooshagian said. "We shouldn't have been throwing the football. We gave them a chance to get back into the game. It was a little too soon to start celebrating.They were ready to fold and we let them back in."

Fourth-quarter leads of 33-6 and 39-13 shrunk to 39-35 with four minutes to play. Harbor had the ball inside the Ventura 2 with one second left, but were turned away on the final play of the game.

So the Pirates learned some lessons without paying for them in the loss column.

"I take the blame for that and I'm not going to let it happen again," Mooshagian said.

Injury report

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After missing two weeks with a mild concussion, Moorpark quarterback Ben Conlin has returned to practice. The Westlake High product led the Raiders to the 23-20 overtime win at Orange Coast on Sept. 1.

"I'm good to go," Conlin said.

Both Ventura stars missing in Saturday's dramatic win, running back Victor Caro Jr. (turf toe) and linebacker P.J. Gremaud (shoulder), returned to practice Monday.

"This is the healthiest we've been since Riverside," Mooshagian said.

Climbing VC football keeps perspective

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The Ventura College football team's 2-0 start is opening eyes across both the state and country.

Although head coach Steve Mooshagian is working to keep the Pirates' feet on the field.

"I try to take it low-key," Mooshagian said. "It's still so early in the season. I try to keep polls in proper perspective. I know it's a long season."

Impressive wins over former Mission Conference powers Riverside and Long Beach City has seen Ventura rise to No. 2 in Southern California and No. 7 in the state in this week's California Community College Football Coaches Association polls.

The Pirates also rose three spots to No. 10 in this week's JC Grid-wire/JCFootball.com national poll. The rankings represent a high-water mark for the program since running back Travis Rogers powered it into the 1999 Southern California title game.

"You can't get caught up in these things," Mooshagian said. "People will have to prove each week. You really have to keep it in perspective and stay humble."

Ventura should have no problem focusing on Saturday's trip to No. 2 Los Angeles Harbor, which is also ranked in the state (13) and nation (19).

"Anybody can beat anyone," Mooshagian said.

The Riverside team that Ventura upset on opening night rebounded with an impressive 47-7 win over powerful Palomar, which is why the Tigers are already back up to No. 3 this week.

"It shows the respect that people have for Riverside's program," Mooshagian said. "It also shows newfound respect for our (program). It is flattering."

VC makes all the right plays in upset

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There were more than two game-winning plays in the Ventura College football team's 28-27 upset of Riverside Saturday night at the VC Sportsplex.

Before quarterback Ebahn Feathers' stepped into a blitzing linebacker to deliver the game-winning points to receiver Dylan McDaniel and safety Matt Arve pulled down the game-clinching interception, Christopher Mack, Joe Mendoza and P.J. Gremaud ensured the game was still in doubt in that final minute.

"You never know when your play can make the difference," Ventura coach Steve Mooshagian said. "There are five or six key plays in a game and you never really know when they'll happen."

Before its game-winning 10-play, 91-yard drive, Ventura had two early chances to take the lead in the fourth quarter. The first ended at the Riverside 25-yard line, when cornerback Tray Hall stepped in front of a Feathers' pass in the flat and appeared set to give the Tigers a 10-point lead with an interception return for a touchdown.

But Mack, a freshman receiver, and Feathers raced back to halt the return on the Ventura 12.

"That effort was amazing," Mooshagian said. "The game is over if they don't make the tackle."

The hustle paid off six plays later, when Gremaud, the sophomore linebacker from St. Bonaventure High, stuffed EJ Schexnayder's third-and-goal carry from the Ventura 2 and forced a chip-shot field goal, keeping Ventura within 27-21.

"We practice a lot of those situations throughout camp," Mooshagian said. "Our kids rose to the occasion."

The game was still tied after Ventura, using an offensive package installed for a rainy day just four days prior, marched 91 yards on eight straight completions by Feathers and scored using on-the-fly adjustment drawn up on the sidelines.

Holder Joe Mendoza, a sophomore from Ventura High, had to control a tricky, low snap to get the ball down for Carlos Luna's game-winning extra point.

"That was huge," Mooshagian said. "He pulled it up off the ground."

Impact players

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Local products dominate the SCFA Northern Conference honors this week.

Ventura safety Matt Arve was SCFA Defensive Player of the Week. The Buena High product, and transfer from Santa Barbara City, had nine tackles, a fumble recovery and the game-clinching interception in the Pirates' 28-27 win over Riverside.

"He's a great example of perseverance, Mooshagian said. "The guy never misses a day. ... He's undersized, but very smart and always where he's supposed to be."

Moorpark College placekicker Derek Kirk was named Special Teams Player of the Week. The St. Bonaventure High product converted field goals of 24, 25, 48 yards, including the overtime game-winner in the Raiders' 23-20 win at Orange Coast.

"We have an excellent placekicker," Thurston said. "Derek is very capable of keeping us in a ballgame."

Mooshagian on SCFA schedule

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The Southern California Football Association released its 2012 schedule Monday.

Ventura College football coach Steve Mooshagian was pleased by a tough non-conference slate that includes visits by Riverside (Sept. 1), which went 11-0 last fall, including a win over Southern California champ Mount San Antonio, and Saddleback (Oct. 7) and trips to Long Beach City (Sept. 8) and Los Angeles Harbor (Sept. 15).

"I like it," said Mooshagian. "It shows that we've arrived and people are looking at us in a totally different way. We've earned some respect.

"If you want to be the best, you have to play the best. That's how we're approaching it."

The season opener against Riverside, coached by former Palomar and San Diego State head coach Tom Craft, will be a marquee event.

"I love it," said Mooshagian, the former Sacramento State head coach. "Two former Division I head coaches (matched up)... Tom is a hell of a coach."

Moorpark, which joins VC, Bakersfield, Hancock, Canyons, Pasadena and Cerritos in a reconfigured SCFA Northern Conference this fall, opens at Orange Coast and hosts Citrus and Santa Ana.

The annual Citrus Cup game is the fifth week of the season, Sept. 29 at Moorpark.

The SCFA interrupted the Big Game rivalry after 48 years of continuous play. This will be the first fall since 1962 that VC and Santa Barbara City don't meet on the football field.

Meanwhile, Moorpark retained its other local rival, Los Angeles Pierce. The Raiders go to Woodland Hills Oct. 8.

VC's Caro, Howard on all-region football teams

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Ventura College freshman Victor Caro and Jordan Howard were both selected to the All-California Region IV offense when the California Community College Football Coaches' Association released its All-American teams this week.

Caro, a freshman from Nashville, Tenn., finished third in Southern California in yards per carry, averaging 6.7 yards per carry for the 7-4 Pirates. He ran for 675 yards and three touchdowns on just 101 carries.

Howard, a freshman from Pensacola, Fla., was fifth in kickoff returning (29.6 yards per return) and sixth in punt returning (11.7 ypr). He also played full-time at cornerback and is expected to play some receiver as a sophomore.

"Our region is the toughest in the whole state of California to make," said Ventura coach Steve Mooshagian. "In our region, we've got the Top 12 teams in Southern California. That's usually the top players. To have two players, two freshman, on this team is really outstanding."

In good shape going forward

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Ventura entered the season as a team founded on sophomores and, despite graduation, should open the 2012 season in a similar situation.

Sophomore stars like receiver Tim Vizzi and defensive end Daniel Miller and Kalvin Kruz have been standouts, but the Pirates have turned over its roster during the season. As many as seven freshmen have started the game on both sides of the ball in Northern Conference play.

"We're young," said Ventura coach Steve Mooshagian. "We actually have a lot of freshman playing. We may have as many as 60 kids return next season."

Freshmen who have emerged include starting quarterback Chase Smith, who has taken over the reins of the offense; tailback Victor Caro, who is averaging 6.9 yards per carry; linebacker P.J. Gremaud, who led the team with 62 tackles despite only playing eight games; safety Lakeith Murray, who led the team with three interceptions despite only starting the second half of the season and cornerback Jordan Howard, who is among the state leaders in both kickoff and punt returns.

Saturday night to remember for VC football

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The Ventura College football team's dramatic 29-28 win at Hancock Saturday night had plenty to make it one of the most memorable games in recent school history:

The domination of the Pirates' first-half performance, when it rolled to a 21-0 lead.

The collapse of the second half, when they fell behind 28-21 with 1:40 to play.

The season-saving late scoring drive, that quarterback Chase Smith directed for 63 yards over 14 plays, including a fourth down and three third downs.

The game-turning touchdown with two seconds on the clock, when Smith hit receiver Tim Vizzi in the back of the end zone.

The decision and execution of the subsequent game-winning, two-point conversion play, which Smith ran a bootleg into the right corner of the end zone behind the pancake block of tackle Kenston Redfearn.

All after week when head coach Steve Mooshagian buried his mother, Janet.

"They rallied together and found a way to get it done," said Mooshagian. "They gave me all the strength that I needed to get through this.

Vizzi, Caro earn plaudits, honors

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Along with quarterback Chase Smith's recovery from a four-interception night to execute the game-winning drive, the Ventura College football team Saturday night benefited from perhaps the best offensive performances it has seen from a receiver and a running back during the four-year Southern California Football Association era.

Receiver Tim Vizzi, the sophomore from Moorpark High, tied a school record with 12 receptions, which he turned into 149 yards and three touchdowns. All three are school's top marks during the SCFA era.

Freshman running back Victor Caro ran for 189 yards on just 19 carries, including a 6-yard touchdown run and a 71-yard run to set up another.

"Those are big-time performances," said Ventura coach Steve Mooshagian.

Vizzi, who was named the SCFA Northern Conference Offensive Player of the Week, tied Bob Kimball (1976) and Charles Dillon (2005) for the single-game reception mark. Kimball holds the school record for receiving yards in a game (263), which came in the same record-setting performance against Hancock on Nov. 13, 1976.

Caro, a Brentwood, Tenn. native whose father played for VC and Channel Islands High, earned VC Student-Athletic of the Week for his performance.

"The run he made on the sprint draw right before halftime set us up," said Mooshagian of Caro's 71-yard run on third and 11 from the Ventura 4, which set up VC's third score right before halftime.

Clean bill of health for VC

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Coming out of the bye, Ventura College football coach Steve Mooshagian proclaimed his team as healthy as it was entering the season opener last month.

"The best thing for us right now is we're very healthy," said Mooshagian. "We haven't had very many injuries."

Ventura has adapted to its gauntlet of a schedule by working on its depth.

"One thing I learned from a year ago is that you need to have two guys at every position to be able to withstand the schedule that we play," said Mooshagian. "I think that's going to help us, our health and our depth."

Smith to start for VC

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It looks like Ventura will open SCFA Northern Conference play Saturday against visiting Cerritos (2-3) with a new starting quarterback.

Buena High product Chase Smith, who came off the bench to lead Ventura to a 31-19 win over Pasadena City Oct. 1, is set for his first collegiate start.

"I've given Chase more of the first-team reps," said Mooshagian. "I'm going to use them both, but Chase may start the game."

At the season's midpoint, Koman is 64-for-152 passing for 572 yards, five touchdowns and five interceptions. Smith, who is 24 for 51 with 270 yards and two touchdowns, has yet to throw an interception.

Smith, who started the season at receiver, may have a new target, as Koman is now splitting his time at wideout.

"I'm giving Matt a lot of reps at receiver, too," said Mooshagian. "Matt may start the game at receiver."

Koman played both quarterback and receiver at College of the Charleston before playing basketball at Northern Kentucky.

"He's a very good athlete," said Mooshagian. "He's a very good wide receiver. He can definitely help us there, too."

College Sports Blog
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Ventura County Star sports writer and columnist Joe Curley covers college sports and soccer for this Star. This is the place to click for local college football and basketball coverage, including USC, UCLA, Moorpark College, Ventura College and Cal Lutheran.

Curley will update from live events and also interject with periodic comment on both international soccer and the local Ventura County Fusion.