Sports

MJC aims to get back on track

It's not unusual for the Modesto Junior College football and track coaches to put on a double blitz. Both staffs have been known to call the same recruits.

While Vince Andrews was outrunning Reedley College defenders on an 85-yard blocked punt return last week, he was also displaying the cooperation of the coaching staffs.

"Vince is a very impressive athlete," men's track coach Demitrius Snaer said. "He's going be a great jumper for us and a great sprinter as well. They have a lot of speed on the football team this year. We're hoping to benefit from that."

The Pirates (1-4) hope to exhibit more of that speed tonight in Coalinga as they take on West Hills (1-4) in their final nonconference game of the season.

Modesto has a bye next week before beginning Golden Gate Conference play at home Oct. 13 against Hartnell.

West Hills defeated Hartnell 50-7 last week.

Snaer said it's important to him for the MJC coaching staffs to work together. He and assistant football coach Jim Stevens have called the same athletes, assuring them they can play two sports in Modesto.

Andrews was seeking that kind of encouragement. He graduated from Fresno's Hoover High in 2005 and ran track at Fresno Pacific last year. But he missed football.

So did friend and teammate James Gadison. A big reason why they ended up in Modesto was the ability to be two-sport athletes.

Both were linebackers in high school, but at 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds, Andrews has been a better fit on special teams for the Pirates. Gadison, at 5-9 and 190, is working out at safety and special teams.

Head coach Sam Young couldn't have been more pleased with Andrews last week when, with MJC trailing 54-15, Andrews scooped up the ball after a blocked Reedley point-after kick and ran the length of the field.

"He's a real fiery guy," Young said. "He gives his all. He's on our kickoff return team for a reason. He's very fast."

Fullback Marquell Colston also benefited from his track background. He caught a screen pass and ran for an 89-yard touchdown last week. He said it was something he probably wouldn't have been able to do last season.

But he ran track in the spring and said he heard Snaer's voice in his head during the run.

"He'd say, 'You cannot get caught from behind,' " Colston said. "I just wanted to finish that big run."

Young credited Snaer with being someone the runners want to be coached by.

Snaer said the success of state champions Joe Turner and Brant Gilbert has also attracted athletes.

"They're real cognizant of how well we treat athletes and try to make them succeed," Snaer said.

Bee staff writer Kelly Jones can be reached at kjones@modbee.com or 578-2300.

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