Pat Young, veteran Santa Monica College football coach, will have few veterans this season, and he is not brimming with optimism about predicting what a freshmen-oriented team will do.
"We didn't have much of a team last year," said Young. His 1986 Corsairs finished 5-4 overall and 2-4 for fifth place in the Western State Conference. The conference was dominated by Glendale, considered one of the nation's best community college teams.
Although SMC doesn't have many veterans, it does include a few nuggets.
The top include all-state wide receiver Demetrius (Pee Wee) Smith (6-0, 170) and offensive tackle Dale Evans, the former Santa Monica High School star who shouldn't be nicknamed Pee Wee by any stretch of the imagination. Evans, a second-team all-conference selection last year, is listed at 6-1 and 275.
Smith led the conference in all-purpose rushing with 1,481 yards and in kickoff returns with 479 yards. He tied Allan Hancock tight end Glen Hopkins, a sophomore, for the conference lead in receptions with 42. On his receptions, Smith gained 819 yards (a 19.5-yard average) and scored eight touchdowns. He also had 142 yards on punt returns.
Except for Smith, Evans and some other veterans, Young said, "we're going to have a lot of new faces."
Can the Corsairs win with a cast that is mostly new, even if many of the newcomers turn out to be stars? "It's hard to say," said Young, who enters his 17th year at the school with a record of 103-49-3.
"If you can get on a good roll, get things going and get your morale up, I think you can win with a young team."
But even if he gets all that out of his team, the Corsairs face a tough time overcoming Glendale, which is expected to be loaded again. Young said Bakersfield probably should be ranked second in the Western State race.
Many of the Corsairs' new faces hail from Westside high schools.
Three freshman candidates for the wide-open quarterback slot are locals: Ernie Soto of Venice, Darryl Hobbs from University and Darin Nellis of Palisades. The one who wins the job will have a hard time replacing Kevin Bray, who became SMC's career passing leader with 3,319 yards last year.
Other freshmen from Westside schools include Hamilton running back Jerrald Hines, Venice offensive lineman Jimmy Ito (5-9, 230), Hamilton offensive lineman Courtney Campbell (5-11, 243), University linebacker Varian Smith (6-2, 215) and Naim Shah of Palisades, who played defensive end and wide receiver. Young said Shah (6-0, 180) has "a lot of athletic ability, and we're trying him at safety."
Freshmen from Santa Monica High include defensive tackle Chris Hastings (6-2, 245), linebacker Jamar Davis (5-10, 170) and offensive lineman Glenn Heinrich (6-2, 235). Crenshaw High is represented by fullback Earl Austin (6-1, 225), defensive linemen Lamont Gatson (6-2, 235) and Rodney Scott (6-3, 230) and defensive back Lamaurice Hubbard.
More newcomers include Carson High wide receiver William Pope and Banning High linebacker Eric Dozier (6-2, 210).
The Corsairs will open at home at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 12 and play their first conference game, also at home, against Glendale at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 3.
The rest of the schedule, with conference games denoted by asterisks:
Sept. 19 at Southwestern, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 26 at Compton, 1:30 p.m.
Oct. 10 Bye
* Oct. 17 at Bakersfield, 7:30 p.m.
* Oct. 24 Ventura (homecoming), 7:30 p.m.
* Oct. 31 at Allan Hancock, 7:30 p.m.
* Nov. 7 at Moorpark, 1:30 p.m.
* Nov. 14 Santa Barbara, 7:30 p.m.