With just over two weeks remaining before their regular season opener against L.A. Valley College on Sept. 4, ELAC hopes to continue making progress under third year head coach Lynn Cain.
“In turning around the program, the people and characters had to change. The kind of player we recruit means a lot to us. They had to come to us willing to commit to our community but also to our school and campus,” said Cain, detailing what he and his coaching staff have done to turnaround a once struggling program.
Last season ELAC finished the year on a three-game winning-streak to end their campaign with a 5-5 record.
The Huskies possessed one of the best offenses in all of California in 2009, averaging nearly 458 total offense yards per game.
Freshmen wide receiver Anthony Denham led an explosive ELAC offense last season, leading the state with 16 touchdown receptions while piling up 1,189 total receiving yards in just eight games.
Although most of last season’s offensive and defensive leaders are returning, like sack leader defensive lineman Chris McCoy and offensive guard Cesar Estrada, the team continues in search of its full potential.
“This year we have a lot of key returners on the defensive line. Gary Ruvalcaba, Lavell Lincome and myself are returning along with other experienced players which should help out the defensive unit as a whole,” said McCoy.
McCoy also stresses that it doesn’t matter to him that he led the team in sacks last year, because all that matters to him is that “the team succeeds.”
On the offensive side of the ball ELAC will rely on its experienced offensive line to protect its new incoming quarterback this season.
Entering camp with 13 quarterbacks, quarterback/offensive coordinator Nick Garrett has cut the potential starters list down to just three.
Mike Oliver, Richard Raugland and Jonathan Rojas are all vying to lead the ELAC offense this upcoming season.
“As of right now there is pretty stiff competition. We got three styles of quarterbacks,” Garrett said about the fierce quarterback battle, adding, “(Oliver) is more of a passing style quarterback who comes from the spread system at North Torrance High.
“(Raugland) is from Venice High who spent time at El Camino College. This season he came to us after sitting last season out.
“Jonathan Rojas played with Denham in high school. After taking a year off he decided to return and play with us this season.”
With three individuals battling to be the quarterback for the 2010 season, Garrett is extremely happy with the effort each player is showing.
Whoever inherits the quarterback position this season will take over a very explosive offense.
Returning are wide receivers Denham and Michael Allen, along with a pair of bruising running backs in Isam Pegues and Aubrey Haynes.
In charge of protecting the new quarterback and opening running lanes for their stable of backs will be returning offensive lineman Estrada.
“We are here for each other. If the quarterback sees the offensive line is working good together, then they’re going to have confidence in us which will help us unite as a single unit,” said Estrada.
Estrada is an offensive lineman who the coaching staff raves about.
According to several coaches, Estrada has been getting looked at by some NCAA Div. I schools.
As ELAC continues to make progress under Cain, according to some players the team is far-and-away better already than at any point last season.
“Practices so far have been real good. So far as a team we are meshing really good, better than at any point last year. I believe that our team is 10 times better this year than last year,” said strong safety Darius Turner. “Although we got some new players at some positions, everyone is starting to buy into the scheme and bonding to the commitment.”
Many players put in hard work during the off-season to come into camp in great shape.
Running backs Pegues and Haynes both lost weight during the off-season, which has made each of them more explosive and better conditioned.
Following a much improved season in 2009, Cain isn’t worried about winning the conference and reaching a bowl game.
Cain’s concern is to make sure his group of players can reach their pinacle, saying, “The biggest goal is to reach our true potential. In reaching our true potential winning and all that other stuff will take care of itself.”
ELAC will hold a 70-play practice scrimmage that will go a long way in deciding available positions on Aug. 28 at Weingart Stadium.