Seeking to snap a string of five consecutive losing seasons, the Glendale Community College football team accomplished that feat this season backed by a bevy of talented players on both sides of the line of scrimmage.
It resulted in the Vaqueros going 6-4, 4-3 in the American Division Pacific Conference to tie for third place and securing their first winning campaign since 2007, when they competed in the Western State Conference’s South Division.
Glendale’s rise could be partly attributed to the contributions made each game by Noche Nwofer, Marquise McGuire and Jaelin Rising-Barnwell, all of whom were bestowed with state recognition, with Nwofer adding the biggest honor, as he was named an All-American, as well.
Nwofer, McGuire and Rising-Barnwell were also selected to the All-Region V team, encompassing the American Division. College of the Canyons freshman linebacker Ryan McAleenan, a former St. Francis High standout, received All-Region IV honors from the National Division. The voting was conducted by a panel of representatives from the California Community College Athletic Assn.
Leading the surge for the Vaqueros was Nwofer, a sophomore linebacker who finished with 61 tackles (18 for a loss), 10 sacks, three interceptions and one defensive touchdown.
“It’s great to be honored like that,” Nwofer said. “One of my goals coming into the season was to try to get All-Region or All-American and maybe it shows I can play at the next level.
“We had a lot of great players who were able to make it a fun season. We went from being 2-8 [in 2012] to 6-4. Preparation is one of the biggest tools toward achieving success. You expect to go out there and make the plays.”
Glendale enjoyed a renaissance on defense, tying for the state lead with College of the Canyons with 24 interceptions. It tied for fourth with four defensive touchdowns, seventh in fumble recoveries with 16 and finished 10th with 36 sacks.
Rising-Barnwell, a freshman defensive back, collected 41 tackles, four interceptions and one fumble recovery to help spur the Vaqueros.
McGuire, a freshman running back, proved to be a force by giving the Vaqueros a bona fide ground game. He rushed for 885 yards in 176 carries and five touchdowns. McGuire was adept at catching the ball, too, as he hauled in 23 passes for 337 yards and four touchdowns.
Glendale sixth-year Coach John Rome said Nwofer and Rising-Barnwell turned in stellar years anchoring the defense.
“It’s just great to have these men be honored like that,” Rome said. “With Noche, he was very deserving for both honors.
“Noche could get to the ball real quick. He was an incredibly dedicated worker going into last offseason. If you were going to emulate somebody, it would be Noche.
“Jaelen was a great corner player. He knew how to shut the other team down with those four interceptions. As he gets bigger and stronger, his future will be even brighter.”
Rome said he felt confident the Vaqueros would flourish with McGuire pounding the ball upfield.
“We had some excellent skill players,” Rome said. “With Marquise, you could see how incredibly strong he was.
“He knew how to break tackles and did it with great balance. Because of that, he put defenses off balance.”
McAleenan transferred to Canyons from San Jose State and helped the Cougars reach the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Canyons went 8-3 and 5-1 in the division for first place. Canyons fell to Fullerton, 56-17, in the National Bowl.
For the season, McAleenan had 64 tackles (second-best on the team), 5.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, an interception, six pass break-ups and a forced fumble.
“I could see the hard work pay off and it feels great to get this honor,” McAleenan said. “I came to COC and picked things up quickly.
“I had redshirted the year before at San Jose State and that experience really helped me out. We got to the bowl game this year. We didn’t end the season the way we wanted to, but we still had a great year.”