GLENDALE — With his second official year of head coaching about to begin this Friday, Glendale High football Coach John Tuttle listed a number of traits as his team prepared for its season opener at Moyse Field versus San Gabriel.
Those qualities included discipline, camaraderie, pride and a desire to work.
“If you look at the good teams within the San Gabriel and San Fernando valleys, they have a couple of things in common,” said Tuttle, who prepped at San Marino High and was a member of coach Mike Mooney’s Rio Hondo League champion coaching staff at Temple City High in the mid 2000s.
“Yes, they have talent, but they have other things as well. The Monrovias and St. Francises going all the way up to Alemany, they have players who hustle, work hard and love football. We’ve come a long way in that area since last summer, but we still have a ways to go.”
Glendale finished 3-7 overall last season and 2-5 in league in Tuttle’s debut, winning as many games in 2012 as in the previous two years combined, while posting the most wins for the program since a 6-4 campaign under Rafik Thorossian in 2008. In addition, the Nitros, who open the season Friday hosting San Gabriel, won the city title — defeating Crescenta Valley and Hoover — for the first time sicne 2003.
“I know everybody wants a number total for how many wins we’re going to have this year. To be honest, I’m not as concerned with wins and losses as much as I am with this team improving,” Tuttle said. “If we prepare better and get better in those areas I mentioned, then we’ll be able to win more games.”
Despite the loss of 21 seniors, including star receiver Michael Davis to Brigham Young University, perhaps Glendale is enjoying the benefits of addition by subtraction.
“There were some good seniors here last year, no doubt, but there a lot of juniors who had problems with some of the seniors,” current Nitros senior offensive lineman Rico Vorobyev said. “Some of the seniors just wanted to do their own thing and didn’t care about the rest of the team.
“The juniors remembered that and we made sure to make the sophomores and freshmen a part of this team because they are.”
With team unity peaking at Glendale, there is also unaniomus agreement as to what unit will lead the way toward success in 2013.
“The offensive line has been doing great this summer,” said senior quarterback Kevin Felix, a second-year starter. “They’ve been the best and the great thing about them is if they do [well], then we all do [well].”
Other than Vorobyev, the offensive line consists of senior Hratch Yacoubian and juniors Austin Sagnanert, Christopher Austero and Grey Cabrera.
The big wild card on both the offensive and defensive lines is hulking 6-foot-4, 300-pound junior Christian Lofton-Grady, a Nevada transfer who was still awaiting clearance from the CIF Southern Section.
The addition of Lofton-Grady at offensive tackle would be a big boon to Felix, who is looking to surpass last season’s numbers in which he completed 80 of 162 passes for 999 yards and five touchdowns versus seven interceptions.
One weapon long gone is the aforementioned Davis, the team’s playmaker and an All-Area pick last season, who finished with 1,168 all-purpose yards and seven touchdowns.
Hoping to fill the void at receiver are senior Martin Marin (17 receptions for 265 yards and three touchdowns), sophomore Ricky Loudermill and junior Jose Armas, while tight end Osvaldo Cortes is also a pass-catching threat.
Felix also has a trio of rushing options in sophomore fullback Abraham Martinez and running backs Daniel Jung (78 carries for 372 yards and three touchdowns) and Luis Ruiz.
“This year is our opportunity to work on some of the mistakes that we made last year and to be more competitive, to be in the games versus good teams like Burbank and Muir,” said Jung, who is attempting to replace senior Christian Osorio (490 yards rushing and three touchdowns).
As for the defensive line, it could include Lofton-Grady at nose guard, while the rest of the line will have a rotation of Vorobyev, Martinez, senior Louie Cendejas III and Avertis Madaryan.
Jung will be a key member of a linebacking unit that includes Ruiz, Cortez, junior Ricky Herrera and senior Carlo Maquiddang, while defensive backs include Loudermill, senior Leonardo Flores and juniors Corey Duran and Sam Peplow.
One the team’s more underrated players is senior Jacob Funaro, who has rounded into a solid long snapper.
“The biggest thing for us is to eliminate mental erreros,” Herrera said. “We can’t win until we fix our mistakes. Once we do that, then we’ll see what we can do.”