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November 24, 2004

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Palo Alto Online

Publication Date: Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Big Game blowout leaves Stanford players already thinking about next season Big Game blowout leaves Stanford players already thinking about next season (November 24, 2004)

by Rick Eymer

Sunday's football awards banquet - senior tight end Alex Smith was named team MVP - gave Stanford one last chance to say goodbye to its seniors before the team breaks up for the postseason.

Sophomore receivers Evan Moore and Mark Bradford will join the basketball team; the returning players will hit the weight room and the seniors will ride off into the sunset, however faded.

The Cardinal (2-4, 4-7) finished their season with five straight losses, the last a 41-6 loss to California in Saturday's Big Game. It was the end of the road for the seniors, but for many players it's just the beginning.

"I can definitely look forward to this defense coming back," junior linebacker Jon Alston said. "The coaching we have on our side of the ball is so good, all they have to do is tell us what to do and we're successful."

The defense lose seven starters, but there's a strong base to build around, including Palo Alto grad Timi Wusu and fellow linebackers Alston, Kevin Schimmelman, Michael Okwo, Mike Silva and Udeme Udofia.

The defensive line returns Julian Jenkins and Casey Carroll among others and the secondary looks promising with T.J. Rushing, Brandon Harrison and Trevor Hooper.

Menlo-Atherton grad T.C. Ostrander may have served notice that his future may be sooner than people think. After starting the last two games, and relieving in four others, the redshirt freshman will likely enter spring camp in a dead heat with redshirt sophomore Trent Edwards. There's also Kyle Matter, who should be a healthy fifth-year senior next season. The quarterback position suddenly looks a little crowded.

"T.C. gained invaluable experience," Stanford coach Buddy Teevens said. "He made decision which were positive, and I admire his competitive nature and courage. He kept standing in there. He has a bright future."

Moore and Bradford return along with fellow receivers Justin McCullum, Gerren Crochet, and Marcus McCutcheon. Running backs J.R. Lemon, David Marrero and Ray Jones will get a chance to run behind an offensive line that also returns en masse in Brian Head, David Beall, Jon Cochran, Jeff Edwards and Ismail Simpson.

Even kicker Michael Sgroi and punter Jay Ottovegio will return for another year.

"It's the end of a wild ride over the past five years for me," Stanford senior linebacker David Bergeron said. "These are some of the best friends I'll ever have. I'll be one of Stanford's biggest fans from here on out."

Menlo-Atherton grad Greg Camarillo, who received the Jim Reynolds Award for inspiration, was one of 11 seniors who played their final game for the Cardinal. He caught two passes for 21 yards, and finished his career with 46 catches for 613 yards. Although he never caught a touchdown pass, he was instrumental in setting up several scores.

Smith ended his career as the top pass catcher for a tight end in school history, and he will likely be playing in the NFL next season.

"We left it on the field," Bergeron said. "The loss was a hard thing to swallow being our last game but I am proud of these guys."

The Big Game, marred by personal foul penalties and another second half collapse, should have been a parting gift for the seniors. Instead it was just another farewell.

"When you look at the big picture, this was the last time we got to play with the seniors," Alston said. "I'm going to miss those guys. They are some of the best people I've ever met."

Stanford took strides again under Teevens, though it wasn't enough to attain the goal of reaching a bowl game. The Cardinal will have four tough losses - by a total of 18 points - to remember.

"We look at the close games as opportunities missed by us," Alston said. "It's absolutely painful. It hurts the fans to see it, and it hurts to be in them. For the time being, it's just going to have to be tough."

Alston said he had an emotional week contending with his feelings for the seniors and wished the year could have gone differently. He will, though, cherish his memories.

"I thanked Jared Newberry for helping me become a better player," Alston said. "I told him 'I tried to emulate your play. I tried to be you,' since I played behind him last year."

With 10 wins in three years, Teevens has moved ahead of 12 coaches in career victories at Stanford, and has his sights on moving past at least two more, and possibly five. That is, if he gets the chance.

"Coach Teevens has been nothing but great to me," Alston said. "The guy is one of the best people I've ever met. I'd like to see him come back."

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