HEAD COACH: Kris Dutra (3rd year; on staff since '97)
2002 RECORD: 3-7
RETURNING STARTERS: Off 5, Def 7
2003 OVERVIEW: If Allan Hancock gets back to a bowl game it'll be in large part due to local players. Thanks to a tight housing market and administration philosophy the roster only shows about 20 out-of-staters. Dutra hired two new coordinators during the offseason. New offensive coordinator Matt Almaguer will draw up plays for Hancock's I-formation while Ed Barnett takes over defensive responsibilities.
According to Dutra the strengths of the team are at running back and in the secondary.
Second-team All-WSC running back Casey Langley (5-7, 180) is back for another round. He's quick and strong, benching a reported 315 pounds.
Handing the ball off to Langley will be returning starter Chad Nicholson (5-9, 190), who possesses what Dutra says is a "65-yard arm." What Dutra and Nicholson need now are proven wide receivers, something that can't be found on the roster. Fortunately, the Bulldogs have two excellent tight ends in Colin Vidal (6-4, 248) and Brian Watje (6-4, 260). The latter is a great blocker who could end up playing tackle at the next level per Dutra. The gem is probably Vidal, however, who hasn't played since 2001. "He's a big, strong, very athletic kid. And he's a great long-snapper," said Dutra.
Last year Nicholson was often running for his life behind a patchwork, young offensive line. This year, once again, the line is predominantly made up of freshmen but is reportedly high on potential.
The strength of the defense is in the secondary, where All-WSC Cornerback/kick returner Eddie Scipio (6-0, 180; Bethlehem Catholic HS, Penn.) returns for his sophomore campaign. "He's a stud -- period," said Dutra. "I can't wait to see him at a four-year school when he fills out. He's got good speed and was an honorable mention all-American as a return specialist." Scipio verbally committed to Brigham Young several weeks ago.
Lining up opposite Scipio in the defensive backfield will be cornerback Greg Dutra (6-1, 180), who is entering his third year in the program. "He's tall, rangy and physically mature. A zone type corner who breaks well on the ball," said Dutra. And no, the two are not related.
The linebacker spots will be hotly contested by incoming freshmen and a pair of returning starters. Physical middle linebacker Chris Nunez (6-1, 235) returns after started several contests in 2002. John Sio (6-0, 200) is another returning starter. A wildcard in the mix is Donnell Aerosmith (6-3, 220) who returns to action after a year of knee rehab.
The defensive linemen are all freshmen. Dutra will also have a new kicker and punter this year.
Getting back to a bowl game won't be an easy task given how tough the conference is from top to bottom. But it's hard to imagine the Bulldogs being down too long.
FIRST GAME: East LA