Something new, something old

NORTHEAST GLENDALE — While the Glendale Community College football team is focused on the future, it's undoubtedly motivated by the past.

Coming off a second-half slide for the second season in a row, the Vaqueros will look to put the disappointment of a 4-5 season, one that began at 3-0, behind them.

Major factors in their quest to do so include sustaining a defensive potency coming off a strong year that most within the Vaqueros' own ranks believe could be even better now, and rebuilding the offense from the ground up, all while adjusting to a new conference membership in which the team will no longer have the grueling task of competing against junior college powerhouses with rosters twice its size.

"I think this year we're going to be a little bit more of what Glendale football has been — we're gonna run the ball and establish field position and try to run the clock and all the things we've done in the past that I believe in," third-year Coach John Rome said. "We're going to be the same multiple pro-style offense we've always been.

"[The new conference] is much more competitive from our standpoint, we're playing teams like us. We feel that we're probably in a situation that lends itself to us being more competitive."

The first team Glendale plays this season, Pasadena City College, is the same squad that handed the Vaqueros a 38-22 loss for a final record of 1-5 in the Northern Conference National Division.

With the Vaqueros having moved to the Pacific Division of the American Conference, today's 6 p.m. rematch with the Lancers at Sartoris Field will be a nonconference affair, but one the team is eagerly anticipating to begin the season on the right note.

"To start off with that kind of rivalry, everyone's excited," sophomore linebacker Jeano Khajarian, a Glendale High graduate, said. "Everyone's just thinking PCC, it's a one-game season right now."

Looking for a fresh start after two trying years in the Northern Conference battling heavyweights like College of the Canyons and Bakersfield College, the Vaqueros will once again line up with traditional conference foes Los Angeles Valley College, L.A. Pierce College, West L.A. College, Santa Barbara City College, Santa Monica College and Southwest L.A. College.

One thing the Vaqueros will be hoping to carry over from last season is the success of their defense, which finished ranked 18th in Southern California and kept the team in many games despite a largely ineffective offense.

"Our defensive line is very deep," Rome said. "Probably, for the most part, two deep at every position."

With six returning defensive linemen and five sophomores included in the linebacking corps, the Vaqueros' defense, which will alternate between a 4-4 and 3-4 scheme, is deep and experienced.

The starting defensive line will consist of sophomore all-conference nose guard Nate Mestizo, sophomore Cornell McTier, sophomore Michael Millard, who was converted from linebacker, and freshman Sam Campbell out of Crescenta Valley High.

"We've got some really good sophomore leadership this year," defensive coordinator Doug Bledsoe said. "Nate Mestizo, I think, is gonna be a bona fide team leader and a superstar, Jeano Khajarian is a great team leader and with some of the younger kids we think we've got some blue-chip recruits.

"We think we're a better defense this year."

Stanley Vaughn and Hoover High graduates Ivan Abarenov and Daniel Cruz will add depth to the defensive line.

"It's been going great," Campbell said. "We're all really close-knit and we all want to see each other succeed, so we push each other very hard."

The starting linebackers are Khajarian, sophomore Jacob Meza, sophomore transfer Jason Judge and freshman DaVeon Samuels

The starting cornerbacks are sophomore transfer Eddie Smith and freshman Jermaine Shamburger and returner Oscar Gladden will be a starting safety.

"We feel very confident with what we're doing right now," Meza said. "We feel like we have a good base leading the defense."

The Vaqueros had the 29th-ranked offense in Southern California last season, averaging 21.2 points per game. At this point, there still may be more question marks than answers surrounding the offense after it lost four of its five starting offensive linemen.

Many of the skill positions will be filled by newcomers, as well.

"That was a huge area of concern for us [this offseason]," Rome said of improving the offense. "We have to completely rebuild our offensive line."

Tackle Richard Avitia is the lone returning starter up front, while the other spots are still in competition.

Sophomore Ronnie Marquez out of Glendale High and freshmen Anthony Boykins and Mike Williams are among those competing to fill out the line, while freshman Anthony Quiroz has won a starting tight end job.

There is also competition at quarterback between returner Steve Batista and sophomore transfers Greg Jimenez and Kevin Hunter.

Freshman Kyle Cota, who turned in an All-CIF season at quarterback in his senior year at Crescenta Valley, is also on the roster.

"If he does not start at quarterback, we'll move him to play some receiver," Rome said. "We like his athleticism, so we want him involved on this team."

Rome is confident in his group of receivers, which is led by sophomore Reinaldo Reyes and also includes freshmen Patrick Donahue and Eugene Gandara.

The assortment of tailbacks that have filled the Vaqueros backfield for the past two seasons have all moved on, but Rome said the team's depth there is still strong. He will look to freshmen Rashon Harper, Omar Sanchez-Barrera and Antonio Bray and transfer Joshua Nakamoto to add some punch to a rushing attack that was ranked 18 in Southern California last year.

"I'm happy with all of them," Rome said. "Three of them are on the smaller side, but they all bring something different."

Although the conference change figures to alleviate some of the numbers concerns for the Vaqueros, who were hit hard by injuries the past two years, the onus will once again be on the Vaqueros to prove they can finish the season strong.

"Last year we kind of crumbled," Mestizo said. "This year I think we'll stick together as a team through adversity."


Today vs. Pasadena City College, 6 p.m.

Sept. 11 vs. Golden West College, 6 p.m.

Sept. 18 at East L.A. College, 6 p.m.

Sept. 25 at Allan Hancock College, 6 p.m.

Oct. 2 L.A. Valley College, 6 p.m.*

Oct. 9 L.A. Pierce College 6 p.m.*

Oct. 23 at West L.A. College, 1 p.m.*

Oct. 30 Santa Barbara City College, 6 p.m.*

Nov. 6 at Santa Monica City College, 6 p.m.*

Nov. 13 at Southwest L.A. College, 6 p.m.*

* Denotes American Conference Pacific Division game

Copyright © 2019, Glendale News-Press
EDITION: California | U.S. & World