The good news for the L.A. Valley Monarchs last year was that they improved their won-loss record by one game from the season before. The bad news was that still left them with a 3-7 record. Head Coach Ron Ponciano begins his second season as the headman with the Monarchs and feels that the team must continue to improve or he is going to have to change some of his philosophies.

Ponciano says that he specializes in reclamation projects where he comes in to a team that is down and resurrects them to respectability again.  However, he is also trying to get his players on to the next level even if it means only having that player's services for one season instead of two.  Coach Ponciano estimates that in the last 12 months Valley has lost 13 freshmen to the next level. 

"That obviously hurts us but hopefully it will help us in the long run," said Ponciano.  "What it boils down to is that the kids are the most important thing, and I truly treat them like every one of those kids is my son.  And what would I do if he was my son?"

It is a difficult balancing act between trying to build a winning program and helping the players get their education.  Ponciano is doing what he can to keep his system going.  As they head into the 2002 season the Monarchs will face improved competition within their own Conference.  Here are the players that are expected to keep Valley on an upward trend:


A three-way battle between freshmen.

Salar Shakeri (6-0, 210) FR

Ryan Martinez (5-11, 210) FR
Notes: Greyshirt last year.

Kevin Arbuckle (5-11, 185) FR

Running Back

Willie Jackson (6-1, 207) FR
Notes: Redshirt last year.

Wide Receiver

"We think we're as good as anybody," said Ponciano of his wideouts.

TE Eddie Whittaker (6-5, 250) SO
Notes:  Most heavily recruited player on the squad. Will graduate in December '02.

WR/KR James Norris (5-7, 165) SO
Notes: Returning starter. "Exciting dynamic player." Will graduate December ‘02

WR Sanders Trent (5-8, 165) FR
Notes: Has some Division I offers. Could transfer before the season begins.

WR Sam Worthy (5-10, 170) SO
Notes: Transfer from College of the Desert "If he gets eligible he could be, arguably, the best guy that we have."

Offensive Line

Mario Palomino (6-5, 315) SO
Notes: Returning starter

Jessie Quevedo (6-4, 260) FR

Ryan Davis (6-4, 270) FR

Defensive Line

DT Brook Emelio (6-3, 270) SO
Notes: Returning starter.

NG Dante Culbreath (6-4, 320) SO
Notes: Returning starter.

DE/LB Rashaad Goodrum (6-4, 240) FR

DE Tearrius George (6-4, 265) FR
Notes: Both Goodrum and George are being heavily recruited. Expected to only play one season of JC ball.


MLB Michael Porter (6-3, 210) SO
Notes: Returning starter.

Bryant Barrientos (5-10, 200) FR

Chris Govea (5-10, 198) FR
Notes: Runs well and has good instincts.

Defensive Backs

"We're traditionally pretty good at this position and we think we will be this year."

CB Craig Chisholm (5-10, 172) SO
Notes:  Transfer from College of the Desert

CB Richard Brown (6-0, 170) FR
Notes: Greyshirt from College of the Desert. Will transfer after this year.

S Matt Lutz (6-0, 195) SO

S George Covington (6-1, 210) SO

Ron Ponciano has added Armando Gonzalez as the offensive coordinator.  Gonzalez held the same position under Ponciano at Cal State-Northridge.  Former Valley WR Gil Rodriguez will coach the QB's.  Jimmy Sims, former head coach at Bishop Montgomery, is a full-time assistant now as well.

The goals for the Monarchs are to have a winning season and go to a bowl game.  In a Conference that includes perennial winners Canyons, Allan Hancock, and Bakersfield the task will not be easy.  However, Ponciano points out that five of their games were decided by four points or less last season. 

"This is going to be a pretty big season for us as far as can we turn the corner or not?  If I cannot turn the corner then that one-year stuff (freshmen going to Divison I after one season) has got to be put to the side.  Because you can't lose seven Division I starters a year and expect to be good," said Ponciano. 

The Monarchs improved by one game a season ago.  To reach their goals this year will require a three-game turnaround.  The talent is there but it is a matter of how long it will stay.


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