Cal Poly

Cal Poly football team limping heading into Great West opener

The way the Cal Poly football team has been hit by injuries, it’s as if head coach Tim Walsh broke a mirror, walked under a ladder, spilled the salt and crossed paths with a black cat. Breaking every superstition in the book might be the only thing left to account for the Mustangs (2-3) having no fewer than seven offensive starters miss time in the first five games of the season.

Only, the first-year Cal Poly coach takes his superstitions seriously. He probably doesn’t even step on cracks. Just imagine if he had.

“I try to stay away from things like that because I do believe in them, believe it or not,” Walsh said at a media conference at Mott Gym on Monday. “But football’s a tough game. You just get hit the wrong way one time, and there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s difficult, and I think we’ve had more than our share, but it’s part of the game.”

The latest — and far from only — injury concern is quarterback Tony Smith, who left Saturday’s 35-23 loss at Montana with a bruised thigh and will struggle to get much practice time leading up to the Great West Football Conference opener against Southern Utah on Saturday.

Smith gave way twice to backup Andre Broadous, a redshirt freshman who was competing for the starting job in training camp. After a few costly mistakes in his first collegiate snaps, however, Broadous was taken out in favor of Harlan Prather, who rallied the team for a late touchdown.

By Monday, Walsh’s faith in Broadous had been fully restored. “We felt like Andre was maybe a little bit rattled and all of a sudden trying to prove things rather than go play,” Walsh said. “As far as this week, if Tony cannot play, Andre Broadous will start the game, and Andre Broadous will be a much better player than you saw this Saturday, I’ll promise you that much.”

As far as running back Jon Hall and receiver Dominique Johnson, Walsh said, “We’re going to plan right now not to have them, and if we do have them, it’s a bonus.”

Callero hints at dunks and states some goalsCal Poly head men’s basketball coach Joe Callero said he’d like to see his team have a winning record at home in his first season and get out of the Big West basement, where the Mustangs finished last season. Cal Poly was left out of the conference tournament.

“Those aren’t exactly lofty goals,” Callero said. “I think they’re realistic goals. The preseason is set up to learn a lot about ourselves and still accomplish those goals.”

Callero will know just how realistic when the team opens practice Saturday.

Before that, the men’s and women’s basketball teams will be hosting a “Mott’s Madness” tip-off event after the Mustangs’ women’s volleyball match against UC Davis on Friday, and included in the festivities will be a slam dunk contest.

Callero did not name a favorite for the contest, but let out some info on what could be seen.

“They’re really creating some teamwork and using each other to have some high-flying dunks,” Callero said. “I just previewed one where somebody’s jumping off somebody else’s back or something like that. There’s going to be some creative things. We’re letting them take the gloves off to do some things to have fun.”

Crozier: Poly women’s soccer still has work to doThe Cal Poly women’s soccer team (9-5-0, 3-1-0 Big West Conference) sits in a first-place tie with UC Santa Barbara with homes games against UC Davis and Long Beach State coming up Thursday and Sunday.

But Mustangs head coach Alex Crozier didn’t sound like a midseason favorite to host throughout the Big West tournament and get back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2004.

“We don’t really look at it as needing to hold onto it,” Crozier said. “We just need to keep playing well.

“We still feel like we’re fighting for our lives. We’ve been to the conference tournament the last few years. We just haven’t gotten to where we wanted to go.”

Mustangs men’s soccer looking for scoresThe Cal Poly men’s soccer team (4-7-1, 2-1-0 Big West) has been shut out twice and scored just one goal in the past three games. It’s also allowed just one during that same span.

Mustangs head coach Paul Holocher said it’s a departure from what his teams have looked like in the past, but this year’s squad is centered on defense.

So in order for Cal Poly to keep on contending in a conference where it is currently locked in a three-way tie for second place, the Mustangs need to make the most of the scoring opportunities they are creating.

“Those are so important,” Holocher said. “Probably 40 percent of all goals are scored on set-pieces — corner kicks, free kicks. The Mustangs can only get better at them if they “practice them, and we do,” Holocher said. “We do constantly. We’ll be training on those again tomorrow before the game.”

Gonia gone for Poly cross countryThe Mustangs cross country team will be hosting the Cal Poly Invitational at the Fairbanks Cross Country Course on Saturday, while select members of the men’s team will be at the Pre-National Invitational in Terre Haute, Ind., the site of the NCAA Championships.

That group of men’s Mustangs will not include senior Daniel Gonia, Cal Poly’s top returning placer in every race last season.

“Daniel’s continuing to have some issues with getting back to health and so he’s still not quite there,” coach Mark Conover said. “So, he won’t be competing this weekend either as his status remains up in the air.”

Gonia retired midway through the Bill Dellinger Invitational in Eugene, Ore., on Oct. 2., and Conover said he did not know when to expect him back.

“We don’t have somebody of his caliber in the lineup,” Conover said, “but we have five seniors this year and they want it, and they want to try to win the conference and get to the NCAA championship.”

The women’s team, which has already won two meets and is coming off a seventh-place finish in the Stanford Invitational will square off with UCLA on Saturday.

“I think it’s going to make for a very interesting race,” Conover said. “It’ll be a perfect situation for them to get what they need out of our home meet.”