1997 RECORD: 3-6-1 overall, 0-4-1 in league
COACH: Julian Smilowitz (29-34-1 at school)
RETURNING STARTERS: 3 on offense, 3 on defense
Justin Brown, DL, 6-3, 220, Sr.; Fabian Chavez, OL/DL, 6-2, 270, Jr.; Jonathan Pate, QB/DB, 5-10 160, Sr.
Manyez Corral, DL, 6-1, 240, Jr.; Armando Lopez, RB, 5-11, 170, Jr.; Brian Mitchell, RB/DB, 5-11, 150, Sr.; Daniel Rosca, OL, 6-4, 280, Jr.; John Van Lant, OL, 6-3, 250, Jr.; Andy Zarate, WR/DB, 6-3, 190, Sr.
The Indians were expected to rebound from a tepid 1996 campaign and move back into the playoff picture. But injuries left Smilowitz and staff with about 12 healthy players for much of the season, and it made 1997 feel like another step backward. "Here, one kid usually plays two, three positions," Smilowitz said. "Last year we had no depth." That enabled league opponents to feast on Fullerton, which managed only a tie in its five games. The Indians will need to stay healthy this year to have a shot at the playoffs. But with 16 returning lettermen, Fullerton has a good foundation. The offensive and defensive lines are large and strong. But Smilowitz and staff must revitalize the offense. Lost to graduation are quarterback Justin Bruce (811 yards, 13 TDs), running back Chad Staffieri (727 yards, four TDs) and tight end Jeff Cody, who totaled 62 points with five touchdowns, five field goals and 17 extra points. Pate gets a shot at quarterback. "He's shifty and can make things happen," Smilowitz said. Lopez, promoted from junior varsity, and Mitchell, used exclusively on defense last season, comprise the starting running back tandem. Along with the lines, the linebacker and defensive back units need only tinkering. Still, the Indians might be well into the season before the coaching staff knows how realistic Fullerton's playoff chances are.
Sept. 10 vs. Anaheim; 18 at Whittier California; 25 vs. Bellflower.
Oct. 2 vs. Magnolia; 8 at El Modena; 16 vs. Sunny Hills at Buena Park HS; 23 at La Habra; 30 vs. Sonora.
Nov. 6 vs. Troy; 13 at Buena Park.