Head Coach: Ken Blumenthal (1st Season)
2002 Recap: Last year was a turbulent one for the Wolverines of San Bernardino Valley College. The majority of the coaching staff abruptly left in August right before the season started, which left head coach Ron Smedley scrambling to find a staff. In spite of this obstacle, SBVC finished the year 5-5 and many talented players dotted the roster. In fact, seven players from last year's squad signed with division one programs and yet another 12 signed at I-AA or D-2 schools, according to new head coach Ken Blumenthal. The new coach replaced long-time head man, Ron Smedley, who retired after undergoing bypass surgery as a result of a heart attack.
2003 Outlook: Blumenthal brought in a whole new staff and takes great pride in coaching his alma mater. He was an all-conference linebacker in 1972 for the Wolverines and served as Smedley's defensive coordinator from '85-'91. Blumenthal's new coordinators are also former Wolverines. Heading up the offense if Ed Jarmillo, the QB on SBVC's 11-0 national championship squad in '82 and Mike Williams, a WR for the school in '84-‘85. D-Coordinator Dennis Paulson was a MLB on the 1988 Conference championship team and brings 10 years of coaching experience to the table. Blumenthal admits he has not closely followed the conference in recent years, but is optimistic about the success of his first squad given the talent on the roster.
SBVC returns eight starters on defense and four full-time regulars on offense. Blumenthal and his staff will employ a spread offense, using a 4-receiver set to take advantage of the returning talent at wide out. Soph Michael Hawkins (5-10, 185) is a transfer from College of the Desert and will be playing a slot/H-back position. Blumenthal said the local product out of Eisenhower HS is, "A true game breaker who will have many opportunities from his inside position. We will get him the ball because he makes things happen once he touches it." The other inside H-back will be Ryan Carter (5-9 ½, 170), a bounce back from San Diego State. The outside receivers will be Evan Palmer (6-3, 205) and speedster Ryan Martin (5-10, 150). "Martin has 10.65 100-meter speed and is a returnee from the 2001 team," Blumenthal remarked.
The offensive line was shuffled around last year and Blumenthal hopes for more stability this year. Versatile David Bertola (6-1, 296, AB Miller HS), who can play all the line positions, and G/T Jimmy Luster (6-1, 280) are the only returnees. Diminutive Mark Mercado (5-9, 180) played center last year but may move to LB this year to take advantage of his spirited play. Jeremiah Rodriguez (6-1, 190) will be the QB and Brandon D'Maico (6-1, 165) of Redlands HS will back him up. "Rodriguez came over from Citrus College and was injured last year. He is smart, athletic and looks good this year," Blumenthal noted. Running backs Lamont Avery (6-1, 205) and John Nairn (6-0, 200, RCC transfer) are sophs who will see action in SBVC's one-back set. Nairn pushed up 27 reps at 185 during last May's JCFootball.com combine in Santa Ana.
The strength of Blumenthal's first squad is the defensive line, which returns four regulars from 2002. The stalwarts inside are mammoth T Siosifia Vave (6-5, 306) and Jonathan Hall (6-2, 245). "Hall is quick and technically sound, which makes him tough against the run," Blumenthal noted. The studs returning on the outside are DE T. J. Grisby (6-3, 230) and Eric Justice (6-2, 217), who is fast on the corner from his rush-end spot.
The secondary is also a strongpoint, with 3 starters back. The veterans include FS Rodney Harris (5-11, 180), speedy CB Josh Okoebor (5-11, 170), and SS Donrell Hall (6-1, 200). The newcomer at corner will be freshman Steve Miller (6-1, 190) from nearby Etiwanda HS. Dekeetrick Johnson (6-2, 205, San Gorgonio HS) was a part-time starter at linebacker last year and ‘backer is the only position where the Wolverines must rely on incoming freshman to do the job.
First Game: The Wolverines open on the road @ LA Southwest College. See the rest of the schedule at http://www.valleycollege.net/WolverinesSite/index.php?page=FootballSchedule2003.htm.