Palomar Comets: "Under New Management"

The Palomar Comets literally have a different look this season. They will don new helmets similar to those of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They also have a new head coach. Joe Early takes over for Tom Craft as Palomar's 10th head football coach. Early, who begins his 15th season on the staff, was hired last December 18th, just 11 days after Craft declared he was taking the head-coaching job at SDSU.

"I feel like I had been prepared and groomed for this job when Tom came back from San Diego State (in 1997) with responsibilities placed upon me behind the scenes," said Early.  "It's a situation where I still pinch myself everyday I come to work.  I don't consider this a job.  It's something that I want to do and not a whole lot of people can say that." 

The rest of the coaching staff remains virtually intact and Coach Early feels that that is extremely important.  "If you look at all of the good programs from the NFL to college, the staffs that stay together are the ones that consistently win."

Among the newcomers to the staff are a couple of former players from the 1998 National Championship team.  Former WR Scott Sims will coach the wide receivers and former DE Leni Suiaunoa will coach on the defensive side.  Coach Early said, "That makes us feel good.  I think it shows we care about our kids because they come back."

The Comets, who finished 10-2, lost 35 players from their team that won the Southern California Championship a season ago.  Despite that, Early would like to see them keep a similar scheme on both sides of the football this year.

"Offensively we would like to keep the base of our offense as what we've been doing for the last 10 years.  That's what the coaches here were brought up on.  That's what we feel comfortable with.  I'd like to think if you see us this year versus last year we'd be pretty similar."

Palomar has 120 players in camp this year and the coaching staffs' problem is a unique one.  They may not have enough equipment for everyone when it is time to strap on the gear.  Early hopes for that problem to be solved but he's not certain how.  He's hoping he won't have to make cuts.

With those 120 players in mind, here are the ones who have made an impression early in the football season along with last year's stats if applicable:

DEFENSE

Defensive Line

DE Brian Nicholson SO
6-5, 280
Vista HS
Note: Returing player. "He's on a mission.  Getting a lot of looks."

DE Andrew Paopao SO
6-2, 235
El Camino HS
Note: Returning part-time starter

DL Brian Dorsey SO
6-1, 250
Fallbrook HS
Note: Returning player

DL Nick Badin FR
6-2 205
Rancho Bernardo HS

DL Chris Pino FR
6-6, 270
Oceanside HS

Linebackers

MLB Sean Sovacool SO
6-1, 230
Fallbrook HS
Note: Returning player. "He's had an outstanding spring and summer."

OLB Andrew Dorsey SO
6-2, 235
Fallbrook HS
Note: Returning starter.

OLB Terry Murphy SO
6-2, 218
Rancho Bernardo HS
Note: Returning player.

LB Sean McLean FR
6-0, 215
Vista HS
Note: Competing to back up Sovacool.

OLB Mike Tinoisamoa SO
6-1, 235
Vista HS
Note: "He's our swing backer.  He's a lot of range and he's got some speed."

OLB Randy Noa FR
6-0, 223
Oceanside HS
Note: "We're really high on him."

LB Efran Diaz FR
6-0, 200
Sweetwater HS

LB Curtis White FR
6-0, 210
Sweetwater HS

Defensive Backs

CB Greg Williams SO
5-10, 174
El Camino HS
Note: Returning player.

DB Shane Lancaster SO
6-0, 200
San Marcos HS
Note: Returning player. Should have a bigger role this year than last.

CB Herman Nuckols SO
6-0, 152
San Marcos HS
Note: Returning player. "He's having a real good summer camp."

S Willie Tagoai SO
6-3 203
Vista HS
Note: Returning starter. Getting D1 looks.

CB Freddie Ellis SO
5-11 170
Mt. Carmel HS
Note: Returning part-time starter.

S Johnny Hearn SO
6-0, 205
Vista HS
Note: Returning part-time starter.

S Josh Gomez FR
6-1, 180
Oceanside HS
Note: 2001 CIF-San Diego Section Defensive Player of the Year. "He's going to be good."

S Tate Hess FR
5-11, 185
Murietta Valley HS

S Trent Strough FR
6-2, 200
Valley Center HS

S Ron Rockett FR
6-1, 185
Mission Bay HS 

OFFENSE

Offensive Line  

*Palomar lost all five starters from last year.

LG Rory Canfield SO
6-3, 260
Helix HS
Note: Returning player.

C Zach Williams SO
6-1, 285
Helix HS
Note: Returning player

OL Eder Arosemena
Vista HS
Note: "He reminds a lot of David Moreno." Former Comet that went on to SDSU.

T Taylor Schmidt
6-4, 270
Escondido HS
Note: Former wrestling state champion for Palomar. 

Quarterback

*There is no front-runner in the early going.

Roman Ybarra SO
6-2, 195
Vista HS
Note: Bounce back from UCLA. In 2001:  1-7-0 10 yds.

John Nielsen SO
6-3, 205
Mira Mesa HS
Note: In 2001: 6-10-0 88 yds. 

Running Back

*One of the most competitive spots for Palomar, which runs a one-back set.

Chris Williams SO
5-7, 165
El Camino HS
Note: Returning part-time starter. In 2001: 93-429 2 TDs. 

Alex Thompson SO
6-0, 195
El Camino HS
Note: Returning player. In 2001: 31-169. 

Gabe Sayers FR
6-0, 225
Hoover HS
Note: Nephew of Chicago Bears Hall of Famer, Gale Sayers. 

Yemi Atiba FR
5-9, 190
Carlsbad HS 

Wide Receiver

Eddie Sullivan SO
6-1, 180
Carlsbad HS
Note: "He's having a phenomenal summer.  He's got a great work ethic."In 2001: 20-199-2 TDs)

Trent Henderson SO
5-7, 165
Note: In 2001: 11-80. 

Joe Roberson SO
Note: Transfer from Riverside. In 2001: 30-345-2 TDs. 

Detron Johnson FR
5-8, 176
Bonita Vista HS 

Travis Plash FR
6-1, 180
Valley Center HS 

Marlon Carter FR
5-10, 180
Note: From Omaha, NE. <


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