SOUTHEAST GLENDALE — Never one to shy away from an honest assessment, second-year Glendale football Coach Alan Eberhart has a few ideas as to just what went wrong during a 1-9 season that ended with a winless Pacific League campaign last year.
He doesn't believe many of his seniors bought into the coaching staff's approach.
He doesn't believe the fundamentals were there, much as an aggressive approach was absent.
But as much as anything else, Eberhart puts blame on himself. He blames himself for assuming he was inheriting a team that was brimming with fundamentally-ready players and he blames himself for incorporating a spread offense that was likely too confusing for many of them. And as much as anything else, he blames himself for making allowances, for allowing some players to get away with a bit too much.
"Last year, if you missed a practice, you got suspended. This year, we've taken the approach of if you're not here, you're not here," Eberhart states. "We haven't compromised a lot.
"These kids are at the practices, these kids are working hard. For whatever reason, Iast year, I thought my validation was numbers. Well, we had 55 guys and 25 [real] players."
While the former longtime Crescenta Valley coach is hardly predicting that the Nitros will claim a Pacific League title and challenge for CIF glory, he does believe that despite having in the neighborhood of 32 players that they will be improved. Perhaps, more accurately, they have to be improved.
"I think we're a lot better, we've had a good summer, we've had a good camp," he says. "We need to progress as a football program. We can't go out there and get beat by 40 points. We have to play better football — block and tackle."
With these hopes comes a list of changes. They include forming a foundation of fundamentals, building up a more physical group of players and simplifying the offense.
The simplification of the offense will come with the implementation of the run-first wing-T offense.
"Our goal is to get three-and-a-half yards, just really basic stuff," Eberhart says.
Junior quarterback Alex Yoon is set to start at quarterbacking duties, though incumbent starter Evan Norton, also a junior, seems to have healed up from an arm injury. The injury to Norton, a stronger passer than Yoon, who is seen as a stronger runner, played a part in the offense's change as much as the goal to simplify.
At running back, or at the wings as it is in the offense, are seniors Alex Manukian and returning starter Anthony Platero with Chan Kim starting at fullback.
The biggest drawback to the newest offense is that it limits senior receiver Linden Anderson and sophomore speedster Michael Davis, seen by many as the strength of the team. Nevertheless, Eberhart still sees a big season from Anderson.
"He's a weapon on offense," Eberhart says. "When we throw it, we're gonna throw it to Linden."
One of the biggest question marks and, subsequently, biggest facets in developing a power running game is the offensive line. Thus far, Eberhart has Mark Attarian and Narek Babakhani penciled in as starters at tackle with James Mizuki either playing guard or center. Still, questions loom.
"It'll come down to tackling and our O-line," Andersons says. "Those two things right there will [dictate] how good we'll be."
Still, the attitude already seems to have improved.
"This year, beginning of summer ball, we were like, we've got to step up. Everybody bought in," says tight end Alex Maravilla, who looks to also play a key role in the offense blocking and receiving. "It's a pretty good offense. We've got size. If everybody [carries out] there responsibilities, we should be OK."
Defensively, the most important change is likely in shoring up the tackling ills that plagued the Nitros last season.
"We're hitting like we never did last year," Eberhart says.
Leading the charge in defensive coordinator Bill Irace's 5-3 scheme could be middle linebacker Julio Morales.
"He just flat runs to the ball and tackles," Eberhart says.
Duncan Maxwell, Jorge Barrios, Kim, Platero and even Yoon are also likely starters at linebacker, with Arthur Vahanyan the starting nose guard.
In addition to many of the linebackers, two-way starters litter the defensive backfield, with Anderson and Maravilla leading the way.
One thing that has not changed is the fire for the rivalry with Hoover, which won the annual "Battle for the Victory Bell" last season, 15-7, to end the Nitros' season with one last speed bump.
"That'll be a night I'll never forget, but, good thing we've got another year," Maravilla says. "We're gonna try and get that bell back."
Adds Anderson: "That's in the back of our minds. It'll get there."
But the overall goal for Eberhart and the Nitros doesn't simply come down to one rivalry game. It's about putting a better record in the standings and building up a program.
"I think we'll do better," Eberhart says. "We've worked hard enough, I think. We've coached them well enough to see improvement. As a goal, if we go .500, I'd be ecstatic. I think we can go .500.
"If we can upset somebody and make the playoffs, I could be mayor. I'm being realistic [with how good we can be], but I'm also being realistic that we can't be 1-9."
2010 GLENDALE SCHEDULE
2010 GLENDALE SCHEDULE
Fri. vs. Cathedral, 7 p.m.
Sept. 17 at La Cañada, 7 p.m.
Sept. 24 at South Pasadena, 7 p.m.
Oct. 1 vs. Crescenta Valley, 7 p.m.*
Oct. 7 vs. Burbank, 7 p.m.*
Oct. 14 Pasadena, 7 p.m.*
Oct. 21 at Burroughs, 7 p.m.*
Oct. 29 Muir, 7 p.m.*
Nov. 5 at Arcadia, 7 p.m.*
Nov. 12 vs. Hoover, 7 p.m.*
*denotes Pacific League game