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Hartnell Panthers Vs Contra Costa College


Hartnell Panthers VS Contra Costa College

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Hartnell 34
Contra Costa 16

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Hartnell Panthers hope to end opening jinx

BY GEORGE WATKINS • gwatkins@thecalifornian.com • September 4, 2009

The Hartnell College football team won't have to wait long if it hopes to show it's in a recovery mode.
All the Panthers need to do is win their season-opener, Saturday in Ukiah against Mendocino.

Hartnell, which has gone 3-27 over the past three years, has lost its last 12 season-openers.

It hasn't started the year 1-0 since beating Sierra 32-7 in 1996.
"We're going to treat it like it's a one-game season," Hartnell coach Matt Collins said. "We want to start with a winning record. It's going to be a huge challenge for us. We have to overcome a long road trip [about four hours by bus] against a team that threw for about 500 yards [427 to be exact] against us last year."

Mendocino beat Hartnell 22-7 last year to finish 5-5 overall. It has only two winning records in the last 10 years (8-2 in 2007, 9-1 in 1999). However, Mendocino was ranked tied for 19th in the preseason NorCal Top 20 poll.

"I'm sure they'll be some deer-in-the-headlight looks," Collins said about first-game jitters. "It's all about the individual. Some thrive on it [season-opener], some don't. Some teams are good coming off a bus, others don't know how to handle a business trip."

As with any season-opener, there are more questions than answers.

"A lot of guys have been given the opportunity to prove to us [coaches] they belong on the field," Collins said. "Others may show they don't belong. We'll find out who the leaders are."

Hartnell will start an entirely new backfield from the one that ranked 70th in the state out of 72 teams in total offense last year.

"Our job is to assess and evaluate," Collins said. "It'll be a teaching opportunity for us regardless of the outcome."

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