News: Season Preview: Football Team Looking To Rebound In 2013
In his third season directing the Pasadena City College football team, head coach Fred Fimbres knows it's time for his Lancers to show they can truly compete in the difficult SCFA National Northern Conference. The growing pains of 2011 and 2012 are over in the coach's mind.
"It's comforting going into a season that for the first time we have a group of sophomores who we recruited and cultivated," Fimbres said about his 2013 Lancers. "We were hit by injuries last year and to lose that many key players is never good for any football program. To lose them on a team with new face compounds that negative impact on your team. But we may have gained in the long run by having this year what amounts to our most experienced group since I came to coach here."
Twenty-one sophomores return from 2012 and eight other second-year players are either coming back from Fimbres' 2011 squad or transferred in from another community college.
The most heralded returning player is All-NNC Second Team defensive lineman Dalyou Pierson, a 6-foot-3, 260-pounder from Independence High in Bakersfield. As a freshman, Pierson used his quickness and anticipation moves to fill holes in leading the Lancers in tackles with 64. Nine of his tackles were behind the line of scrimmage including 2.5 sacks.
Mike Sepulveda, a 2011 all-conference linebacker (from Helix High), returns as a medical redshirt after recording 18 tackles over two games last season. Sepulveda made 57 tackles and recovered two fumbles in his freshman year. Another injured returning linebacker now healed is Bryan Luna, (Crescenta Valley High) who recorded 51 tackles in 2011 before missing the entire '12 season.
The team's depth at llinebacker is enhanced by Javon McElroy-Bradford (Washington Prep, 20 tackles last year), and Kevin Tapia (South Pasadena, 13 tackles).
Fimbres didn't hide what he feels is the team's ultimate strengths this season.
"The offensive and defensive lines are our two strengths," he said. "This is going to alter our coaching philosophy. The O-Line will turn us into a ball-control, running team. The D-Line will be all about stopping the run. Our goal will be about controlling the line of scrimmage."
Pierson leads that defensive line along with lettermen Gus Ferrat (Burbank Burroughs High, 11 tackles, 1.5 sacks), Jonathan White (Hamilton HS, 8 tackles), and redshirt Tarance Cotright (Crenshaw). Edward Jahnke (2011 returner, Samoana, American Samoa, 2 sacks) and newcomer Manuel Matiarena (a top recruit from Salesian High) add to the mix.
The Lancers' offensive line has even more depth including returning regulars in Miguel Machado (6-6, 275 pounds, from Carol City, Florida), Raul Martinez (6-3, 265, Burroughs), Salvador Chavarin (6-2, 350, Rosemead), and Lester Quintana (6-2, 275, Burroughs). The trench crew is bolstered by 2011 returner Konelio Maino (Taft Union), and highly-touted incoming freshman Javen Burdett (from Campbell High, Hawaii), who could very well earn the coveted key starting center position.
"At one point late last year, we had five true freshmen starting on the offensive line in games," Fimbres said. "We saw a great improvement in our rushing game over the final three games of the season. We want to build on that and we have the experience to do that."
PCC's running attack is led by 2012 leading rusher Marciss Grigsby (Hamilton, 115 carries, 493 yards, three touchdowns). Cameron Washington (Bishop Alemany, also a letterman, 8 receptions, 59 rushing yards) is expected to improve after being a quality prep runner. Sophomore Steve Dinov (Napa High) will once again show his ability as a strong blocking fullback.
The Lancers quarterback position is a battle of two between Darrian Cazarin (Alhambra High) and Shana Virnala (Los Altos), according to Fimbres. Cazarin passed for 4,355 yards and 42 TDs his last two years at Alhambra. Virnala threw for 1,863 yards and 18 touchdown in leading Los Altos as an All-Hacienda League performer. Both are expected to see playing time in the team's season opener v. Citrus College on September 7.
PCC's wide receiving corps is a work in progress with returner Micah Shirley (Bellarmine-Jefferson, 10 receptions, 121 yards) and Marcus Green, who was a 2011 Pasadena Star-News All-Area performer at Pasadena High, leading the bunch.
The Lancers' defensive back corps also is being evaluated with transfer Frank Denegal, a 2011 impact player at El Camino College-Compton Center (and Locke High) with 44 tackles and a team-high 7 pass breakups, and the incoming Alexander twins, Austin and Evan, who were each All-Baseline League selections as seniors last year, in the mix. Freshmen James Wilson (Damien High) and Rodon Ogilvie (Lynwood) each figure to compete for secondary spots.
PCC hosts Citrus in a 6 p.m. season-opening start at Robinson Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 7.
[Photo--Dalyou Pierson (54) is a returning All-SCFA National Northern Conference player for the 2013 Lancers.]
Editor's note: Some student-athletes who were not academically eligible to play the 2013 season have since been removed from this release, Sept. 1
Release Date: 08/19/2013