Golden West College hasn’t finished above .500 for five years, but Coach Ray Shackleford is confident the Rustlers can return to the form that helped them to nine straight winning seasons from 1972-80.
The reason for his optimism? Defense.
Golden West has scored a lot of points in recent years but has also given up a lot.
Shackleford, who is beginning his 21st season, thinks that frustrating trend will be coming to an end because he expects the Rustler defense, which returns seven starters, to be much improved.
“I never said I was Bear Bryant--I think we’ve got the most out of our players and done the best we could the last few years,” he said. “But I think we can have a successful season because our defense is going to be a lot quicker.
“We haven’t been terrible defensively the last few years, but something has been lacking. We’ve had big, physical people on defense, but they weren’t particularly well-suited to the conferences we played, because the teams have had a lot of speed. This year, we’ll be faster.”
The Rustlers did appear to be caught flat-footed in a pair of losses last season that kept them from a winning record.
Golden West was defeated in the final seconds by Cerritos, 24-21, and then gave up a pair of touchdowns in the final minutes the following week to eventual Pacific-9 Conference champion Fullerton in a 27-21 defeat.
Golden West may also benefit from playing in the eight-team South Coast Conference. In May 1985, Southern California Community College athletic directors and administrators voted to disband the Pacific-9, believed by many to be the toughest conference in the nation. Taft was moved to the Central Valley Conference and Bakersfield to the Western State Conference. Golden West, Fullerton, Cerritos, Long Beach City, El Camino, Pasadena City and Mt. San Antonio joined Compton, formerly of the Western State Conference, to form the South Coast.
In effect, Taft, the national champion in 1982 and 1984,, and Bakersfield, which has a strong program, were exchanged for Compton, which is not known as a football power.
But Shackleford is downplaying the effect the conference change will have on Golden West.
“It won’t be that big a difference because we still have 10 games with good teams,” he said. “True, we won’t be playing Taft, but we will be playing Bakersfield in a nonconference game anyway.
“This conference, week in and week out, is still tough . . . and some good teams are going to end up below .500.”
Among the players returning on defense is sophomore linebacker Mark Ziegenhagen (6-feet 2-inches, 220 pounds), an All-Pacific-9 second-team selection last season.
Sophomore safety John Whiteman, who led the Rustlers with three interceptions in 1985, will team with redshirt sophomore safety Adam Spies, who missed last season with a broken hand, to give Golden West a strong secondary.
Golden West allowed nearly 200 yards per game rushing last season, but Shackleford thinks that freshman lineman Herman Baine (6-0, 235) of Westminster High School will help bring that average down.
On offense, the Rustlers must replace running back Todd Parker, who rushed for 1,075 yards last season. Sophomore Carl Satterfield (5-8, 165), who had a 173-yard game against Long Beach City, will be Golden West’s top ground threat. Satterfield will run behind another big Golden West line that will be anchored by sophomore tackle Darren Grudt (6-5, 300) and sophomore guard Gil Medrano (6-2, 255).
Eric Lawton, a redshirt sophomore, will be the quarterback. John Spoor, another redshirt sophomore who made 25 catches for 414 yards in 1984 before being sidelined all of last season with a knee injury, should be Lawton’s top receiver.
Coach: Ray Shackleford, 21st
Career Record: 113-76-7.
1985 Record: 4-5-1.
Returning Starters: offense--2,
Returning Lettermen: 34.
GOLDEN WEST COLLEGE
Sept. 13--at Bakersfield
Sept. 20--Orange Coast
Sept. 27--at Ventura
Oct. 11--x at Pasadena City
Oct. 18--x at Long Beach City
Oct. 25--x Compton
Nov. 1--x Mt. San Antonio
Nov. 8--x at Fullerton
Nov. 15--x Cerritos
Nov. 21--x El Camino
x--South Coast Conference game
Home games in LeBard Stadium