Cerritos Enters '03 Campaign in Low Key Fashion

The Cerritos Falcons are always there, or thereabouts, in the Mission Conference title chase -- but so far no brass ring. This looks like another such season, but with not quite as much expected of them. Could this be the year Frank Mazzotta's lads climb to the top?

TEAM PREVIEW

HEAD COACH:  Frank Mazzotta  (26th year)
2002 RECORD: 8-3
RETURNING STARTERS: Offense 3,  Defense  5

2002 RECAP:  As usual the Falcons had a decent to good season, winning eight of 11 games and frustrating their coach along the way.  "I think we were better than the record shows," said Mazzotta, "but who could figure that we would go against El Camino unbeaten and then fumble 10 times? Can you believe it, 10 times. We played Pasadena and the quarterbacks couldn't do anything right. The other loss was overtime in the Strawberry Bowl. We were pretty close to having a really good season."

2003 OUTLOOK:  "We are getting some good talent in and had some fine players coming back, so I'm thinking we will be in the thick of things," said the Falcon head man. "We'll have a good idea right away because we open with Chaffey at home and Compton there the first two weeks and they both figure to be good teams." Mazzotta admits to liking the new Mission Conference alignment, and well he should. He designed it after getting input from each of the conference coaches. Cerritos lost heavily in the offensive line with the departure of Anthony Guerrero (Univ. of Florida) and Richard Estrella (Univ. of Kansas), but the Falcons always come up with a stout front five and have a good influx of freshman talent. Quarterback Mike Keeling is 6-3, 230 and ran a 4.4 at the JCFootball.com combine, so Mazzotta will design plenty of run and pass action for him. Blazer Carlos "CJ" Velasquez (5-11, 195), a second-year bounceback from UNLV, should be among the elite running backs. Defensive linemen Randall Bowen, 6-3, 300, an Oregon bounceback who was all-Mission last year, and DE Jimmy Ko, 6-1, 275, will have to cover for young linebackers. The safeties are sophs, but both corners appear likely to be freshmen.

PLAYERS TO WATCH:  Keeling, who at 6-3, 230, could get offers as a linebacker; Bowen, who simply is next to impossible to block; Velasquez, who might lead the Mission troops in scoring and yards, are all grade A prospects.  Freshman receiver David Nichols out of Dominguez High, could be a real find.

FIRST GAME:  Hosting Chaffey Sept. 6 in a 7 p.m. clash


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