New horizons for Vaqueros

GLENDALE — While a season-opening loss to Chaffey certainly didn’t knock the Glendale Community College football team’s 2007 season off the rails — the setback was followed up by four straight wins — the last thing the Vaqueros are looking for when they open their 2008 season at West Los Angeles College today at 1 p.m. is a repeat.

In addition to the primary goal of winning the game, first-year Coach John Rome wants to see the team take that next step up from what they’ve shown so far in practices and scrimmages.

“From a first game standpoint, it has no bearing on our season outcome in our conference — our goal is to win the conference championship,” said Rome, who served as the Vaqueros offensive coordinator for six years, including last season when the team went 6-4 and 5-2 in the Western State Conference’s Pacific Division. “If [a win today] helps us psychologically to improve, that’s good, but if we do a poor job and we win without getting better, sometimes it’s a false sense of security.

“You want to be able to do your best, but you want to show marked improvement each week as you journey through the season.”

That journey will eventually take the Vaqueros through the Northern Conference’s National Division, but not before a pair of nonconference affairs beginning today.

West L.A. suffered through a meager 2007 in which it went 2-8 and 1-6 in WSC play.

The Oilers were ranked near the bottom of the conference in several offensive categories, including last in rushing and total scoring, averaging just 14 points per game, and 15th in sacks against.

The Vaqueros, on the other hand, ranked sixth in the conference in total defense and allowed just 15.5 points per game last year, the conference’s third-best mark.

It is a new year, however, and West L.A. has cleaned house with the arrival of a new coaching staff headed by Marguet Miller. Miller is coming off successful stints at Pasadena City and Mt. San Antonio colleges, where he thrived as an offensive coordinator and receivers coach, respectively.

“We’ve only seen their scrimmage film, so it’s very hard to assess what they’re truly going to be like,” Rome said. “They look very athletic — they’re big and they’re fast — and it looks like [Miller’s] got a vision of rebuilding the program from scratch.”

It remains to be seen how Rome will dole out the carries among his loaded backfield, but freshman Stephen Miller is set as today’s starting quarterback.

Fellow freshman Dylan Martinez is slated to see some action as well, most likely coming on to start the second quarter.

“We’ve always had a tradition of playing our other quarterback in the second quarter of the very first game to see how they compete and how they lead the team,” Rome said.

On Aug. 30, Glendale college hosted Cerritos in a scrimmage, the final live tuneup for today’s kickoff.

“Initially we weren’t used to the speed of [Cerritos] and we kind of got hit in the mouth a little bit early in the scrimmage,” Rome said. “Then we stiffened up and we played better as the first series of plays progressed. Our defense rallied and did a good job and gradually improved throughout the game.”

 GABRIEL RIZK covers sports. He can be reached at (818) 637-3226 or at

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