“I’m really excited about what we’re about to do, we’ve got a real good team,” DeRosa said. “The defense is really strong. We’re gonna be shutting it down.”
Defense will be a focus for the Vaqueros’ improvement after the team slipped to 32nd in Southern California in total defense in 2008.
“The defense wants to improve,” said Robinson of a unit that surrendered 419 yards per game last year. “We were kind of low-ranked a little bit last year.”
Several key components of the offense, which ranked 11th in Southern California in total offense and 17th in the state last year, will reprise their 2008 roles.
Stephen Miller, who started four games at quarterback last year, including the final three, will start this season as the Vaqueros’ signal caller.
“He was the guy down the stretch [last year],” Rome said. “He possesses a big arm and we believe he’s got a lot of potential. We like his work ethic in the offseason, he’s done a great job.”
Miller’s targets will include sophomores Nick Bryant and Brian Williams, who led the team with a team-high 25 catches apiece last season, as well as sophomore Eudell Clayton and freshman AJ Little. The starting tight end will be Dylan Ryan.
But, as they did last year, the Vaqueros figure to run the ball quite a bit more than they put it in the air.
Glendale college returns three sophomore running backs who were stars at their respective high schools and received varied levels of playing time last year.
Willie Youngblood out of Muir, Joe Wiggan of Burroughs and Jorge Chaidez of Bellarmine-Jefferson will rotate downs and split carries with freshman Anthony Dawkins.
“That’s our four-headed beast,” Rome said. “I don’t really know who’s the best right now. Whoever works hardest that week in practice will start.”
The Vaqueros’ 2008 rushing attack totaled 1,923 yards and 22 touchdowns as the sixth-best rushing offense in Southern California.
Opening holes for the running game will be an offensive line anchored by three returning starters, Farwell, center Bobby Pardo and left guard John Schachtner. Freshmen Roger Garcia and Richard Avitia are the right and left tackles, respectively.
“We think our front line talent can compete with anyone,” Rome said. “Our starting 22 could start for any of those schools [in the division], we believe, but depth is always an issue for us.
“We are looking at no one ahead of West L.A. We have to play every game one at a time.”