GLENDALE — With no game scheduled over the past weekend, the Glendale Community College football team is in the middle of a much-needed two week stretch to recharge, reassess and heal its wounds, both physical and psychological, from a difficult 0-6 start to the season.
And, while the challenges and pitfalls have been numerous for the Vaqueros over the first six weeks of the season, sophomore quarterback Steven Batista's comments indicate the team won't be taking a defeatist attitude into the final four.
"I honestly feel like we're the best 0-6 team ever," Batista said. "We've got talent, it's just putting forth the effort.
"We're a little dismayed, we work hard, but we're not getting the results."
The effort and the results were certainly there for the Vaqueros during the second half of their 42-40 loss to L.A. Pierce on Oct. 9, in which the defense held one of the better teams in the conference to 14 points, while the offense rallied for three fourth-quarter touchdowns and came a failed two-point conversion away from forcing overtime.
"Offensively, this football team has been getting better every week," Rome said. "We're so young and every week it keeps getting better and better."
"I think we played a little bit better defensively [against Pierce]."
The timing of the bye week comes at the risk of disrupting that newfound momentum, but there's still plenty of advantages to some down time.
"The bye's coming at a good time," Batista said. "We can really collect our thoughts and regroup."
Since the beginning of the season, Rome has stressed that his young team would have to learn fast in order to succeed.
Now that they've got some extra practice time, Rome and his staff have the luxury of being able to slow things down and revisit the basics.
"The coaches have us in a set mode right now," freshman left guard Ronnie Marquez said. "We're going over things slower than usual because we have a lot players who aren't healthy right now. We're going over fundamental stuff, trying to get technically sound and all that."
Injuries have affected the Vaqueros, with Josh Nakamoto (ankle) missing the Pierce game and fellow running back Antonio Bray hurting his knee during that game, in which Marquez reaggravated a knee and ankle injury suffered two weeks earlier.
"We have a couple key players out," Marquez said. "I'm just dealing with the swelling and pain right now."
Linebacker Charles Hendricks was also recently hospitalized for internal injuries, according to Marquez.
"It comes at a good time," Rome said. "We're nicked up. Unless we hurt each other in practice, which we sometimes have a propensity to do, we should be at 100% next week."
Glendale gets back into action with a Pacific Conference American Division game at 1 p.m. on Saturday at West L.A.
"We're going to use this bye to get healthy," Batista said. "I'm extremely excited to see we've got for West L.A."