GLENDALE : Just the Names Have Changed : The Cicuto Era Expected to Look Much Like the Sartoris Years

Special to The Times

John Cicuto's 13 seasons as defensive coordinator for the Glendale College football program were noteworthy for the charge he gave his players and the dominant play his emotional nature inspired.

Cicuto's audience and responsibilities are larger this season now that he has ascended to the position of head coach of the Vaqueros, replacing long-time mentor Jim Sartoris.

However there figures to be little change in Cicuto's firebrand style.

"The philosophy of the program, will never change," said Cicuto, 44. "But there are some differences between Sartoris and myself.

"I'm probably a little bit more of an emotional type of a person . . . and I think they'll (the players) reflect that. I don't know if that will be good or bad."

First impressions suggest it could be a change for the better as Glendale looked impressive last Saturday in its scrimmage with Cerritos.

The Vaqueros begin their season Saturday at 1:30 p.m. when they play host to Pasadena City College at Glendale High.

Glendale has 41 lettermen back from a team that was 10-2 overall and 8-1 in Western State Conference play last season, defeating Santa Monica, 23-20, in the inaugural WSC Bowl.

Despite the absence of Sartoris, who compiled a record of 111-64-1 in 17 seasons, the Vaqueros are ranked 17th in the nation by USA Today and ninth in the state by the JC Athletic Bureau.

"I don't think there's going to be much change in that (Glendale) program," Pasadena City College Coach Dennis Gossard said. "Why change something when it's not broke? When you've enjoyed as much success as they have there isn't a need."

With eight returning starters, a trio of talented transfers and an abundance of excellent freshmen, offense could be Glendale's strength this season.

Running backs Sean Hampton and Doug Dragomer are both back after productive freshman seasons.

Hampton, an all-conference performer who played at Sylmar High, rushed for 1,064 yards and scored 10 touchdowns last season. Dragomer, who played at Burroughs, rushed for 987 yards.

"We've had some good backs here," Cicuto said, "but those two could be the best we've had here at the same time."

Sophomore Darren Fitzgerald enters the season as the starting quarterback, but he figures to get a season-long challenge from Ronnie Lopez, the former City Section 3-A co-Player of the Year from Franklin High. Lopez transferred from Pierce, along with tight end Jason Teitel and running back Wes Bender.

And with freshman Marco Arcipreste from Burroughs, the Vaqueros start the season with three talented quarterbacks.

The offensive line, led by all-conference guard Chris Allen and tackle Anthony Navarro, is virtually unchanged from last season.

"I'm looking forward to an offense that can take a little pressure off our defense at the beginning of the year," Cicuto said. "Because if I was to say we have a weakness, it would be the inexperience we have on defense.

"There's a lot of talent, but they haven't played a lot."

Nose guard Chad Keiser, who was all-conference last season, and lineman Damon Hinton, who was all-conference in 1987 and redshirted last season, are the most experienced defensive players.

The 12-team WSC is split into two divisions. Winners of each division are eligible for the WSC Bowl, but may accept bids to other bowl games.

Glendale will compete in the WSC's Northern Division with Moorpark (9-1 overall last season), Santa Barbara (4-6), Ventura (5-5), Los Angeles Southwest (5-5) and Harbor (1-10).

The WSC's Southern Division includes defending national champion Bakersfield (10-0), Santa Monica (6-4), Valley (6-4), Compton (3-7), Pierce (1-9) and West L. A. (0-10).

Besides their division opponents, the Vaqueros will also meet Bakersfield and Santa Monica this season.

Bakersfield Coach Carl Bowser has no doubts that Cicuto is ready for the challenge.

"He's a dominant type of coach," Bowser said. "As a first-year coach, you get fired up anyway. I don't think he'll have any trouble getting his players to be the same."

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