Although Glendale College lost 18 players to scholarships at four-year universities, Coach Jim Sartoris will still field an experienced team this season.
When a team is coming off a 10-1 season--when it was ranked No. 1 before losing to Riverside in the Pony Bowl, and when it shellacked its opponents by an average of 24 points a game--the second- and third-string players are sure to get into games and play extensively.
Twenty-four of these backups--many of whom "were almost as good as our starters," according to Sartoris--including some transfers from Division I schools and promising preps, join half a dozen returning starters and prompted a No. 2 ranking in a preseason coaches poll by California's JC Athletic Bureau.
JC Grid-Wire's national rankings haven't been released yet but the Vaqueros figure to place in the top 10.
Nope. Sartoris said his team doesn't take the polls seriously and that there's pressure only if players create it, "by reading it and believing it."
Something Sartoris takes more seriously is the Western State Conference Championship, which the Vaqueros have won the past two years.
"Ten-one seasons like we've had the past two years come every once in awhile," he said. "If we win only six or seven games but still win the WSC, we'll be just as happy."
Last season's high-powered offense, which averaged 34 points a game, shouldn't black out even though JC All-Americans quarterback Rob Huffman and tackle Bill Schultz have departed, because on hand are a pair of All-American candidates in wide receiver Rocky Palamara and tailback Gene Harline.
Harline, All-WSC, rushed for 862 yards, an average of 6.7 per carry, and Sartoris said he "is a threat to score anytime he touches the ball."
Palamara, who received all-state honors, caught 50 passes for 705 yards and 7 scores. Sartoris said Palamara could be even better this season after improving his speed in the off-season.
Chris Moore replaces Huffman at quarterback, and is under more pressure than last year when he threw four touchdown passes in blowouts. However, Sartoris isn't too worried.
"It (the quarterback) is our biggest question. No one can run the offense as well as Huffman did, but we feel Chris's supporting cast is better," he said.
That cast contains those 24 seasoned back-ups and returning starters Greg Little and Roger Gorke at tackle and tight end, respectively.
Sartoris rotated his linemen last year, so there is a solid nucleus up front, with Ara Derderian and Dean Carter at tackle, Jim Hazboun and Little at guard and Judd Goodrich at center. Sophomores Keith Archer and Richard Thomassian and freshman Rene Williams of Franklin High will rotate. Marcus Lester, a 6-6, 240-pound, transfer from Iowa State, runs and blocks well at tight end and will alternate with Gorke.
There's no dominating player like Schultz on the line, Sartoris said, but each player is good.
At wide receiver, Tuffy Reynolds, Eric York and Anthony Harris should keep defenders from double-covering Palamara.
Reynolds, who sat out last season to improve his grades, caught 20 passes in 1985. York led the City section in receiving at Franklin last year. Harris, a transplant from Glendale's track team, has 4.4 speed over 40 yards.
The backfield is bolstered by Nevado-Reno transfers John Alaimo (quarterback) and Al Robertson (running back), both formerly of Hoover High. Either Robertson or sophomore George Thompson will start at fullback. Tailback Donnell Pumphrey backs-up Harline.
All-state kicker Sal Valesco, who missed only one field goal in nine attempts, is reliable within 45 yards and can hit from 55.
The defense that shut out four conference foes in 1986 also has many experienced players returning.
"The reason for our defensive success was that our offense didn't put them in compromising field position," Sartoris said. "That again, more than the defense, is the question this year."
The strength is the linebackers. Sophomores Jerry Dimaggio and Rayce Denton are on the inside and Stephen Jones and Raymond Brackin on the outside. Andreas Washington, a transfer from Washington State, and freshmen Steve Hieber (Hoover) and Darin Warren (Muir) will also play.
The secondary could be freshman-oriented and needs leadership from safety Jay Carballo, its only starter back who also punts. Sophomores Gil Ruedaflores and Antonio Gonzalez will start at the corners with freshmen Brian Miller and Albie Enriquez backing them up.
Either Shawn Hampton or Donald Lundy, both freshmen, will join Carballo at safety.
Glendale faces Cerritos in a scrimmage game Friday, then open its season on the road Sept. 12 against El Camino College.