Cary Harris learned a lot during his first season as head coach of the Glendale High football team.
Harris, a former USC player who went on to compete in the NFL, experienced how to create a positive environment despite the Nitros winning just two games (one by forfeit) last year. Right now, there’s plenty of room for Harris and Glendale to grow, leaving Harris excited about the prospects of building a core that can possibly pile up some victories in 2019.
Glendale will take its first step to achieving that goal when it meets visiting Mendez in a nonleague zero-week home contest at 7 p.m. Friday at Moyse Field.
“I spent last year learning about the players and the preparation that needs to be done during practice and in games,” said Harris, whose team finished 2-8, 1-6 in the Pacific League for sixth place. “I tried to find ways for our team to be successful and find the best ways possible to get things done.
“I’ve got the first year under my belt now and we can move on and be successful. There’s no reason why we can’t be successful. We want to make the CIF playoffs and we have talked about some of the other goals that we have.”
Glendale, which last made the playoffs in 2003 and recorded its last winning campaign in 2008, will field about 25 players this season. The majority of the athletes will be counted on to play on both sides of the ball throughout the 48-minute games.
Harris, who was drafted in the sixth round (183rd overall) by the Buffalo Bills in 2009 and is Glendale’s sixth coach since the start of the 2004 season, said the Nitros are on the right track to turn things around.
“We are going to be pretty young,” Harris said. “I like how they are eager and hungry to keep learning.
“We want to see how they can react in different kinds of game situations. We want to find ways to get our defense off the field after third down and try to look at how to extend drives when we have the ball.”
There’s opportunity for Glendale to meet those goals, and more.
Glendale’s quarterback will be junior Juan Estrada, who will look to drive the Nitros’ offense.
“We have had a good set of practices early on and it’s helped to get us all in sync,” Estrada said. “I like the way that everybody has put in the work leading up to the season.
“We’re communicating and we have each other’s back. I definitely think we can accomplish our goals.”
The running back will be senior David Ruiz and the fullbacks are senior Marc Soriano and junior Ryan Martinez. The wide receivers are expected to be senior Ethan Aldrete and junior Josh Tomihara.
The potential starters on the offensive line are seniors Justin Umali and Hrak Tahmasian, juniors Christian Ramos and Anthony Hanna and sophomore Andranik Vartanyan. The tight end will be senior Jaime Rodriguez.
Harris said the Nitros will look to improve on defense after yielding 405 points last season.
Among those vying for starting spots at linebacker are senior Nate Bush, junior Isaac Leiva and junior Dennis Perez. Seeking to earn starting jobs on the defensive line include Quiroz, Umali, Soriano and sophomore Anthony Lopez.
The secondary could consist of Tahmasian and senior Jaime Rodriguez, Tomihara, Juarez and sophomore Dino Villalobos.
“We just want to keep learning from coach Harris and the assistants,” Soriano said. “I think we all know each other well and we want to be there for each other. We want to pick each other up if we make a mistake.”
Glendale will begin league competition Sept. 20 against visiting Burroughs.
Arcadia won the league championship last season.
“I can see our league being very good again,” Harris said. “There are some teams who will be bringing back many of its starters and some other teams will have a lot of first-year starters.
“The biggest thing will be getting better during the nonleague games so we will be ready for league and we’ll try to get a top-four spot.”
For the second season in a row, Glendale will not face cross-town rival Hoover in the “Battle for the Victory Bell.” Hoover decided not to field a varsity team for at least the next two seasons after forfeiting its final four games last season following an on-campus brawl. Glendale and Hoover began the rivalry game in 1930.