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Looking for one last roar

Former St. Francis High quarterback Luke Collis wants his last season with Occidental College to be a successful one

August 27, 2011|By Charles Rich, charles.rich@latimes.com

After transferring to Occidental College from the University of Nevada prior to the 2010 season, it took little time for Luke Collis to get comfortable in his new environment. He learned the playbook and adjusted to his new teammates.

The transition was seamless until the first game of the season when the helmet from an oncoming defender struck Collis, the Occidental quarterback, flush on his right leg. There were no signs of structural damage, but Collis missed the remainder of the game and sat out the next contest while on crutches.

"Tough way to start the season," said Collis, a St. Francis High graduate who wound up completing 167 of 268 passes for 1,870 yards last season. "I didn't realize how hurt I was and you just have to deal with it because you have a game to play.

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"My knee wouldn't bend and I needed a few weeks to recover. I really couldn't run, but I was able to sit back in the pocket, read defenses and throw."

Collis, who earned All-Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference second-team recognition after completing 62.3% of his tosses last season, will look to avoid injury this season. He's healthy and ready to get the Tigers in position to challenge for an SCIAC championship. Occidental, a Division III program, will begin its season at 1 p.m. Sept. 10 with a nonconference road game against the University of Puget Sound before opening at home against Menlo College at 7 p.m. Sept. 17.

The Tigers went 5-4, 3-3 in conference last season, finishing fourth behind California Lutheran University, University of Redlands and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. Collis would like to forget last season despite passing for more than 300 yards three times, including completing 24 of 32 passes for 340 yards and four touchdowns against the University of La Verne.

Collis said he spent most off the summer lifting weights and throwing at least four times a week on the grounds of Patterson Field, the Tigers' home facility since 1916. The sting from last season is all but gone, but is still providing Collis, one of 12 seniors on the team, with added incentive.

"I wasn't satisfied with last season," said Collis, a former All-Area pick who tossed 13 touchdowns in eight games last season. "When you go 5-4, it's extremely difficult to be satisfied.

"We had a young team and we still do have a young team. Now, I feel fresh and ready to get after it. I think everybody is ready to go."

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