2006 El Camino Warriors Team Preview

El Camino is one of the favorites to win the Mission Conference National Division. They breezed through the conference last year but lost to Grossmont, 52-43, in the playoffs. The Warriors lost sophomore-to-be QB, Lyle Moevao to Oregon State a couple of months back. Will his loss be too much to overcome? (Photo: Kayne Farquhuarson).

OFFENSE

Quarterbacks:

There will be three talented quarterbacks battling for this coveted position. Last year's quarterback duo of All-American Lyle Moevao (North High; Oregon State) and Don Poole (Foothill High; Cornell) led ECC's offense as one of the most explosive units in the nation. Averaging 480 yards per game, including 265 passing, and 43 points per game were outstanding numbers.

Florida International transfer Tommy Kendrick is the only one with college experience. Kendrick has the height at 6'3", a very strong and accurate arm and can be a dangerous threat running with the football. Challenging Kendrick will be greyshirt Boo Jackson, Player of the Year in 2004 at Lompoc High School, and freshman Kevin Romero, another Player of the Year in 2005 from Mira Costa High School.  Both are excellent athletes who have untapped potential, solid arms and great running ability.

Running Back

How do you replace an outstanding player like Brian Flowers (Inglewood High; Idaho), who was chosen All-American and Offensive State Player of the Year in 2005 with his outstanding season rushing for 1,557 yards, 19 TD's and 6.5 yards per carry in addition to 129 yards per game?! Brian also established two ECC rushing records held since the late 1960s.

Even with Brian gone, however, the running group coming back and coming in may be one of the best in ECC history. Returning at TB is JJ Bass (Lyman, Florida) and local star Ruddy Irving (North). In relief of Flowers, Bass had some excellent performances (536 yards). A very impressive freshman class at tailback includes Jeremy Francis (Lake Howell, Florida), who was offered by Georgia Tech and who combines speed with power, Sione Tuli, an All-CIF player from Leuzinger who has great feet, and shifty Gregory Ray, All-City from Westchester High, along with Winn Simmons, an All-State performer from Texas who is the cousin of last year's ECC standout WR Marcel Reece (Washington).

At the fullback spot are two talented, tough and physical runners and blockers.  Returner Philip Knight (Carson) had and impressive freshman year, but will be pushed by Francis and bruising runner Patrick Hill, L.A. City Player of the Year from Fairfax High School. What also impresses Coach Feather is that all the RBs can also catch the football.

Wide Receivers and Tight End

Last year's starting group were as good and explosive as most Division I programs, led by All American Marcel Reece (Hesperia High; U of Wahsington) who had 49 catches for an incredible 23 yards per catch average, 11 TD's and a record breaking 1,128 total yards. At tight-end was another All American, Devin Adair (Mira Costa High; Tulsa U), who could run and may have been the best in the US with 39 catches, a 17-yard average and 9 TDs.

This year's unit could be just as good. Led by sophomores Kayne Farquhuarson (Homestead, Florida) and Harry DeBerry (Inglewood High), they will join up with an impressive frosh group. Farquhuarson has already verbally committed to the U of Miami Hurricanes and as a preseason All-American pick has great speed and leaping ability who averaged 15 yards per catch last season. DeBerry has had an excellent spring and is ready for a bust-out season. Two other returners Spurgeon McClendon (Gardena) and Johnny Urquijo add depth.

Two outstanding local freshmen products include All CIF Will Bullock (Mira Costa) and two-sport star Phil Hons (West Torrance). Athletic grey-shirt Kenny Fields (Redondo), son of former UCLA John Wooden prodigy Kenny Fields Sr, also had a very good spring. Last, but certainly not least is the trio of fast and talented receivers from Fairfax High School, sprinters Jonathan Price, Vernon Tucker and Reggie Lyons and Fontana product Kirk Fitzhugh.

At the tight-end position are three newcomers who are all very good football players, All CIF Trey Buckley (Lakewood), Tony June (Westchester) and another heralded player from Miami, Corey Surrency.

Offensive Line

After graduating their whole starting unit from 2005 and maybe one of the best ever to play at ECC, obviously coach Feather was gravely concerned. With All-American Mark Gray (Loyola High; Cal), All State Marvin Arnold (Carson; Colorado State), Eric Fa`atagi (Dorsey; Colorado), Jeff Eugene (Florida International) and Jon Such (West High; Western New Mexico) all gone, there is a huge void. This group only allowed 12 sacks out of 342 passes and went six straight weeks without allowing a sack, an unbelievable achievement.

But after an excellent recruiting year and with some proven veterans returning ECC should be just fine. The double Sifa's, Moala (Morningside) and Pinomi (Maui, Hawaii) lead the charge along with 2004 starter Wesley Lauago (Lynwood) and big Jerry Legranvil (Edison, Miami). The impressive frosh group includes Brent McNeil (Birmingham), All-City Daniel Mafoe (Carson), All-Miami Dade Cedric Mack, Chubs Salima (Carson), Vahn Katchadorian (El Segundo), Jarret Gant and Darryl Dexter (Dorsey, Bobby Young (Westchester), Chase Travis (Fairfax) and Albert Estrada (Mira Costa).

DEFENSE

Defensive Line

This was another group that was a minor concern due to the lack of returning sophomores, but once again the Warrior defensive coaches are breathing a sigh of relief due to another excellent recruiting effort.  Pre-season All American and 2006 captain Rolando Barragan returns along with solid, co-captian Darius Carter, but this position is wide open to an array of talented freshmen.  Gravely missed will be All American defensive end Moses Manu (Morningside High; Kansas St.) who had 11 sacks and 61 tackles along with Barragan who had 5 sacks and 46 tackles to lead a D-line charge that was 2nd best in the conference, giving up only 17 points per game and had a remarkable 32 sacks.

The slew of frosh who could make an immediate impact are local All CIF performers David De Cordova (Mira Costa), Josh Berard (Redondo), Justin Thompson and DeSean Bradley (Westchester) and John Finan (Paramount).  Grey-shirts Simi Kuli (Hawthorne), King Manu (Morningside), Charles Roquemore (Gardena) and Edward Tupuola (Torrance) all had a great spring.  Florida International transfer nose-guard Sabus Whittiker will also add crucial depth to this very important position.

Linebackers

Last year this was a position that was very young and inexperienced and had to grow up in a hurry to compete in a very physical conference.  ECC's top two All Conference Tyler Flack (South High; New Mexico Highlands) and Chris Caso have moved on with their 186 tackles and will definitely be missed, but defensive coordinator and linebacker coach, Tom Nelson, is still smiling due to a potentially talented frosh group.  Two part-time starters return in Vuna Tuihalamaka (Hawthorne) and Elisha Mueller (Carson) who can both run and hit and who accounted for over 65 tackles and 6 sacks to help lead a defense that was #1 in turnover ratio with a +14.

Plenty of new faces that have the speed and toughness to bolster the unit immediately are impressive Tolu Moala (Hawthorne), home from his Mormon mission, and Mike Stone (Esparanza).  Top recruits include Kaipo Sarkissian (Hawaii), All City Tola Gafa and teammate Anthony Garibay (San Pedro), Wes Richt and David Pederson (Peninsula), plus Peter Qerbash and Nick Tehirkow (Mira Costa).

Secondary

It's usually hard to replace a secondary unit that was the best in the Mission Conference last year with 28 interceptions led by two-time All American Nate Ness (Gardena High; Arizona) along with tough All Conference strong-saftey Chase Maddox (Serra High) who had a great year.  But, this year's version could be just as good and exciting.  All Conference and pre-season All American Damilyn Tanner returns along with steady, free-safety Nick Armesto (San Pedro).  Graceland transfer Darin Minor (Serra High) comes back home along with returning player Jeff Williams who had a solid spring.

The new and very talented freshmen, however, are the guys who could really shine.  All CIF cornerbacks James Wheeler (Hart High) and Lamar Chapman (Paramount) and safeties Damien Rogers (Redondo) along with Floridians Colmart Franklin (Lyman, Florida) and Sean Prince (North Miami) form a very competitive group.

Special Teams

Spearheading the "special forces" will be two very good players in returning punter Oscar Del Alba (Narbonne) and kickoff specialist Pat Rooney (El Segundo).  The top two incoming freshmen are also outstanding place-kickers in grey-shirt All CIF Joe Houston (Mira Costa) and All State Josh Weaver from Georgia.

 


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