OCC ready to open it up

Orange Coast College quarterbacks ran for their lives and often threw under duress last football season, hoping to connect with someone wearing the same-colored jersey.

The result was 41 sacks, 22 interceptions, a 49% completion rate, an impotent offense and a 2-8 record.

This season, the Pirates' trigger man will run by design, when not sitting in the shotgun, picking over receiving choices as part of the newly installed spread offense.

The new scheme comes with a new coordinator, though Jack Wigmore is familiar to OCC Coach Mike Taylor, who enters his 13th season at the helm, having produced just two winning records in the last 10 seasons.

Wigmore, a star quarterback at Mater Dei in the 1960s who went on to Washington State, is Taylor's brother-in-law. Wigmore, who coached high school football in Oregon and Washington for 30 years, returns to coaching after an eight-season break. He stepped down in 2003 after a seven-season stint as head coach at Winston Churchill High in Eugene, Ore.

"We always talked about our seasons at Christmas, because he coached for 30-plus years, too," Taylor said. "Last Christmas, I asked him if he'd come coach quarterbacks, because I thought we really needed that last year. Then I decided to make some changes [removing Junior Tagaloa as offensive coordinator], and he said he would run the offense for us. He ran the double wing in high school, but he sat down with a lot of the Oregon coaches, including Chip Kelly, and he knows what he's doing. He brings a lot of energy to us and he has been able to connect with the quarterbacks who are here."

Getting quarterbacks to the Costa Mesa campus has been somewhat of a challenge, no more so than last season, when Taylor and his staff went to receiver Keali'i Doll as the Wildcat quarterback in the season finale.

A.J. Josue, who threw for 1,014 yards but had 11 interceptions, is ineligible this season, while Zach Emde (nine interceptions in nearly half as many attempts as Josue) has transferred to Saddleback.

The likely starter this season is Adam Young, a freshman out of Santa Margarita High, where the 6-foot-3, 180-poundee threw for 1,935 yards and 19 touchdowns in 2010 to help the Eagles finish 9-3. He completed 114 of 180 passes (63.3%) with just three interceptions.

"He's by far the best freshman we've had in a long time." Taylor said. "He was going to be a walk-on at the University of Arizona. But his sister went to school here and had a good experience, so he decided he might take his chances at a community college. He's a smart kid who doesn't throw interceptions. It's a different deal [offensively] when you have somebody who can make those decisions."

Those decisions could come easier behind an offensive line that includes four returning starters, including center Alec Davis (6-1, 270 pounds), who was the top lineman on the 2010 squad, Taylor said.

Left tackle Kyle Donaldson (6-4, 325), right tackle John Roche (6-3, 320), who was ineligible last season but started in 2009, and left guard Stuart Strother (6-1, 275) provide starting experience up front.

Taylor gushed about his skill-position talent, which should help improve production from a unit that ranked No. 33 among 37 Southern California Football Assn. schools in scoring (19.6 per game).

Robert Penny, who led the team in rushing last season as a freshman tailback with 608 yards and seven touchdowns on 127 carries, is ineligible, Taylor said. Penny was a second-team all-conference honoree.

Sophomore Bill Chimphalee (519 yards and four TDs on 100 attempts), returns, but could find difficulty getting carries with a cast of newcomers that include freshmen Dylan Chynoweth and Domenic Betts.

"Chynoweth traveled but didn't play as a freshman at the Naval Academy last year," Taylor said. "He reminds me of Ray Holley [who set the school single-season rushing record in 2009 and is now at Louisiana Tech] the way he can stop on a dime and then run."

Taylor is more effusive about Betts, who starred at Banning High in Banning and was most recently at College of the Desert. He amassed more than 2,700 rushing yards in his final two seasons at Banning.

"Betts could be the best we've ever had here at running back," Taylor said of the 5-10, 195-pounder. "He gets the ball, goes the other way and he's gone. Our kids can't tackle him."

Sophomore Derrick Romo ranked fourth among receivers last season (19 catches for 196 yards). He has shifted to safety, but Taylor said he will also see spot duty on offense.

Other receivers expected to benefit from the wide-open attack are freshmen Tyler Duncan (Long Beach Poly), Matt Carlyle (Estancia), Brandon Rivera (Florida) and Jeremiah Rideaux (Savanna).

Randall Mycorn, a quarterback at Sage Hill School, is another freshman pass-catcher in the mix.

Freshmen Alex Cappellini and Dalton Gervais, out of Arizona and Washington, respectively, are also quarterback candidates.

Defensively, all but one starter in a front seven that helped OCC rank No. 3 in the SCFA in rushing defense (105.3 yards per game) is gone.

Only Ross Pitsenberger, who shifts from tackle to end, returns with starting experience among the front seven. Pitsenberger (6-2, 250) had 28 tackles and 1.5 sacks as a freshman.

Evan Law, whose 35 tackles as a freshman cornerback ranked seventh on the team, returns to anchor a secondary that lost would-be returning safety Wesley Harris to ineligibility.

Taylor said Newport Harbor High product Kellon Truxton is a probable starter at one safety spot, while Hawaiian import Keihi Hogan (safety), DeAndre Dickerson (corner) and Romo are others most prominently in the mix.

Nick Cody (6-1, 215), a freshman out of Trabuco Hills High, has Division I potential at middle linebacker, said Taylor, who is optimistic about the impact that sophomore Tyler Karp (6-0, 220), freshman Vince Coleman (6-3, 215) and Colton Christensen (5-9, 190) could have at linebacker.

Coleman is out of Long Beach Poly while Christensen, out of Santa Margarita, was deemed unblockable in Orange County All-Star game practices last summer by then-South head man Myron Miller.

Freshmen Alex Pujols (6-1, 270) and Bronson Arguello (6-2, 290) are the front-runners at defensive tackle, while Antonio Quintana (6-3, 240) and David Martinez (6-2, 205), a Saddleback High product who did two tours in Iraq with the Marine Corps, should contribute at the end spot.

The Pirates, who are 3-13 since a 4-0 start in 2009, open the season Sept. 3 at Saddleback at 6 p.m.

Hoping to improve upon a 2-15 record the last three seasons in conference play, OCC opens Eastern Conference action on Oct. 15 at home against defending champion Riverside.

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