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2011 Junior College Football Profiles: Palomar College
The Palomar College Rockets are living up to their nickname, as they have exploded for over 40 points in each of their first four games.
The Rockets, who average 43.2 points per game, rank among the top teams in the California Community College Athletic Association in several offensive and special teams categories. These categories include points per game, total offensive yards per game, total all-purpose yards per game, rushing yards per game, punt return per game, and yards per kick return.
If Palomar (3-1), who was upset by Santa Ana in overtime 52-45 on September 24, expects to compete in the rough Southern Conference, it will likely have to continue to put up monster offensive numbers. The Southern Conference features #15 Fullerton (4-0), #4 Saddleback (4-0), and two-time defending national champion #11 Mt. San Antonio (3-1). The Comets also have to face non-conference foe #17 El Camino (4-0) as well as conference members Pasadena and Grossmont.
Palomar, who is led by dual-threat quarterback David Fisher, certainly has the weapons to score at an astronomical pace. Fisher, who transferred from the University of Nevada, can hurt opponents either with his arm or legs, as he did against Southwestern Community College in week one. In playing just three quarters against the Jaguars, Fisher racked up 265 total offensive yards, including 215 via the air. In addition, he scored five touchdowns, with two coming on the ground.
The weapons Fisher has at his disposal include wide receivers Kyle Greenwood and Nigel Westbrooks, as well as tight end Dallas Butler. Westbrooks, who leads the team in receptions, has drawn interest from five schools, including three from the Pac-12. Freshman receiver Alan Wheat gives Fisher another option.
Palomar's potent running attack, which averages 209 yards per game, consists of five players with at least 89 yards. These players include Chad Dobbins, Fisher, Joel Yosevitch, Anthony Walker, and Michael Taele. Dobbins, Walker, Yosevitch, and Taele are all freshmen. The Comets also have a couple of good offensive linemen in tackle Robert Green and guard Aaron Wofford.
On defense, Palomar is exceptionally strong at linebacker and in the defensive backfield. Linebacker Adam Witzman, the Southern Conference's "Defensive Player of the Week" in week two, leads the team in tackles, tackles for losses, and sacks. Other key contributors on the defensive front include linebacker Jeremiah Kose, lineman Eric Paopao, and linebacker David Moodie. Meanwhile, cornerbacks Josh Jacko and Winston Pinto, along with safety Devin Taverna, give the Comets a solid backfield.
The Comets also have a strong special teams unit that features several dangerous return men, including Taverna, Taele, and freshman running back Austin Dennis. Despite how valuable the return unit has been for Palomar, it has been the kickers who have earned "Special Teams Player of the Week" in two of the first four weeks.
The Comets kickers are punter Rocco Hemphill and place kicker Cameron Mercado. Hemphill, who had a long punt of 50 yards, also had three downed inside the opposing 20 yard line and earned special teams honor in week one. Mercado kicked two field goals (48 and 41 yards, respectively), was five-for-five on his extra point tries, and took home the week two honor. Mercado also had three touchbacks on his kickoffs.
Though Palomar hasn't reached the pinnacle of junior college football since 1998, the Rockets do have a storied history. In total, Palomar has three national championships to go along with three state titles. The Rockets, who have produced 27 NFL players, also have finished ranked in the top 10 nationally six times and posted a 14-7 postseason record.
An interesting nugget: The Rockets, who call San Marcos, Calif., home, have outscored their opponents 49-7 in the first quarter.
Slaka Benjamin has followed small college football for 14 years.
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