Outlook Improving at Gavilan College

John Lango is heading into his sixth season at Gavilan College, and his third as the head coach. Despite a 1-9 record last year and a 3-7 record in 2000, Lango is upbeat and excited for the upcoming season.

Gavilan is located in Gilroy, California, which is in the Bay Area near Santa Clara. Unfortunately, it's in part due to the location that Gavilan has a tough time recruiting athletes. The area is quite pricey.

On one hand Lango is fortunate to have three great feeder high schools in his district: Hollister, Gilroy, and Live Oak. Some of the best football players from those high schools attend Gavilan. But on the other hand, a good many others opt for other nearby colleges like West Valley, San Jose City, DeAnza, and even Foothill -- where living expense might somewhat less. 

Last year the program actually ended the season with only twenty-six guys on the roster with some athletes playing up to three positions! 

But Lango accepts the situation for what it is and is in no way complaining as the new season approaches. He has a good nucleus of players returning, he tweaked the coaching staff, and they hit the recruiting trail very hard. Lango thinks they'll start the year with 60 players in camp.

To provide a spark to the offense Lango hired a new offensive coordinator, Dan Oswald.

"Oswald has the offense going. He's a quarterback guy that was an assistant coach at Central Missouri State," said Lango, who would like to cut way back on his team's (approx.) 30 turnovers in 2001.. Fortunately for Oswald, the offensive cupboard isn't completely bare.

Leading the offense this season will be quarterback Ajene Palmer (6-0, 200; Oak Grove HS), who sat out last season for personal reasons. At the JCFootball.com NorCal Combine, Palmer clocked a 4.44 forty and a 4.12 shuttle. Then he wowed onlookers with a 34-inch vertical. According to Lango, Palmer is in summer school working on his academics before fall. 

Danny Gallo will be lining up at tailback behind Palmer. He is what many coaches term a 'scatback' and also a heck of a kickoff returner. Gallo averaged approximately 30 yards per return last year.

When the quarterback goes to the air he'll be looking for returning starter, Brandon Almaguer (6-1, 200), who averaged 27.7 yard per catch last season and hauled in 9 touchdown passes.

"Almaguer is a graduate of Hollister High School. He's got speed, runs good routes, and is a qualifier with a 3.5 GPA," said Lango of his go-to receiver. "Marshall, Oregon, Missouri, and Portland State have shown interest in him." 

Lango thinks the strength of his team may be the offensive line where four starters return. The main guy to watch is offensive guard, Darryl Grace (6-2, 275), who started the first several games before exiting with an injury.

Although the Gavilan defense will be young, Lango thinks some of his incoming freshman will do a nice job. He may also land a blue-chip bounceback or two from D1 programs.

The defensive line will be very young with all but one starter graduated.

Inside linebacker A.J. Lee (6-2, 235) will be a leader on an otherwise inexperienced linebacker corps. And he has to shore up a few academic issues this summer in order to ensure his spot on the gridiron. Outside 'backer Willie Gamboa (Gilroy HS) is a freshman to keep an eye on. Lango says that Paul Bianchi (6-0, 225) will move from OLB to rush end for the upcoming season.

Three or four guys are competing for spots in a defensive backfield that will be led by cornerback, Travis Martin. A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, Martin is coming back to football after two years away. Lango says that he's a D1 guy who will have to go D2 or D3 because of clock issues.

It's probably premature to predict a division title for Gavilan, especially with Cabrillo and Hartnell looming, but Lango has the program moving in the right direction.

Gavilan will open the season on the road against Merced College.


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