SOUTHEAST GLENDALE — They closed out their season by beating their cross-town rival to claim the “Victory Bell.”
Since topping Hoover to pick up their lone win last season, it’s been a work in progress for the members of the Glendale High football team and the coaching staff. Gone to graduation are their top two offensive weapons, All-Area second-team picks Zane Archer and Malcom Roberson.
So, second-year Glendale Coach Rafik Thorossian has been at work mapping out a plan for improvement and hoping that the team can recover after suffering a rash of injuries during the first few days of practice at Moyse Field.
“I think we just want to be healthy,” said Thorossian, a former Glendale High and Glendale Community College player whose squad finished 1-8-1 and 1-6 in the Pacific League for seventh place last season. “We have so many people hurt right now.
“As long as we can compete hard, we can get a couple of wins and go from there.”
Glendale will begin its season at 7 p.m. Friday with a nonleague home game against Alhambra. The Nitros will start off league competition at 7 p.m. Oct. 3 against visiting Muir, which captured the league championship last season.
Sandwiched in between those tilts will be games against Rio Hondo League members La Cañada and South Pasadena.
It will be between the Alhambra and Muir games that Thorossian would ideally like to have the Nitros healthy and on the winning track.
“As long as we are ready by the fourth week [against Muir], then we will be fine,” Thorossian said. “Because we’ve had so many people injured, it’s forced us to change things around and figure out who to put where.
“You can’t keep running the same plays if you don’t have the personnel to do it. We are trying to change things around so we have players who can learn new positions.”
At least Thorossian will have a handful of candidates to choose from to lead the charge for the Nitros, who tied visiting La Cañada to go 0-2-1 in nonleague action last season.
Unfortunately for Thorossian and the Nitros, they can’t turn to Roberson (six touchdowns and 951 yards rushing) or Archer.
“We don’t have those two, but we have some kids here who have a real good attitude and have listened well,” Thorossian said. “We have to prepare the best that we can.”
The quarterbacks will be seniors Victor Barba and Arturo Garcia. Both shared the role last year, helping Glendale pick up a 35-7 league victory against Hoover at Moyse Field in the final game of the season and snapping a 19-game winless streak.
Barba might receive most of the snaps during the first part of the season, as Thorossian will have Garcia competing at running back, wide receiver and on defense and special teams.
“We want to be able to keep Victor free so he can get the ball down the field to the guys,” Thorossian said.
The wide receivers figure to be Jordan Bradshaw, Garcia, Dylan Fuller and Charles Crosby. If the Nitros are able to receive some break-out speed from one or all of the receivers, then they might be in business throughout the year.
The running backs will include Sarmen Bakhshi, Garcia and Bradshaw. Time will tell if they can match the numbers put up by Roberson and Archer.
One area that should not be a concern will be on the offensive line, which will return guards Zack Glazer and Ronnie Marquez, center Jano Khajarian and tackles Robert Haro and Stephen Johnson.
The kicking responsibilities will mostly be handled by John Saucedo.
Though the Nitros managed to cut their points allowed by more than 100 and lost a pair of contests by a touchdown or less, some question marks have popped up on the defensive side.
Thorossian said it’s not clear who the defensive ends will be, though the tackles figure to include Marquez, Haro and Glazer. There should be some depth at linebacker with Crosby, Alex Aleksaryan, Eddie Bautista and Spencer Gilmartin on hand.
The secondary will likely feature Garcia at safety with Ray Rivera and Joe Miranda playing cornerback.