TEAM & PROSPECT PREVIEW: El Camino College

The El Camino Warriors are a team accustomed to winning. At one point, under head coach John Featherstone, they lost only two games between 1987 to the 1990 seasons. In fact, since Featherstone took over as the head coach in 1985 the Warriors have had only three losing seasons. Last years' 4-6 campaign was the third of those losing seasons.

Featherstone feels that poor pass defense, they ranked 11th in the 12 team conference giving up 26 TDs and had only 6 INTs, and a slow start hurt them. 

"We lost the opener at Hancock.  You can't afford to lose early in the year," he said.  Despite their record El Camino did play the roll of spoiler last season by defeating, number one, Palomar College 35-31 and Pasadena College 30-23.  The latter win upset Pasadena's chances of playing for the SoCal Championship.

In order to prove that last year was just an aberration the Warriors must shore up the pass defense and build on the success of their two upsets from last year.  Featherstone is most excited with his defense.  He feels that he has four legitimate Division I players.  The players, profiled below, are MLB Brian Smith, DL Brian Pollock, DE Ryan Riddle, and CB Gerald Fletcher.  Here are the top players expected to lead a turnaround this season:

Defensive Line

DT Brent Pollock  (6-2, 310) SO Peninsula HS
Notes: Returning starter. First-team All-Mission Conference Northern Division. Bounceback from BYU.  "He's one of the best nose guards in the country…You're going to have to double-team him.  There's not a guard or a center in our conference that can handle him one-on-one," said Featherstone.  Strongest man on the team, who did over 40 reps at 225 during the JCFootball.com SoCal Combine last May. PAC-10 recruit with January 2003 graduation date. Possibly June. "A big, physical, strong guy that goes from start to finish...and loves the game. Has a real nasty streak in him, too."

DE Ryan Riddle (6-4, 235) SO Clover City HS
Notes:
Led team with 9 sacks last season. Very quick. 4.6 in the 40. PAC-10 recruit. "A great edge player. Timed legitimately in a 4.7. Tall and lanky with a big armspan. We've had Ladairus Jackson, DeLawrence Grant, and Chris Solomona. Riddle is a head-slapper, quick off the ball...a lot like Jackson."

DT Brandon Yandell (5-11, 275) FR Carson HS
Notes: "He's got a chance to be a real good player. Very physical and relentless."

DE Leon Lautalo (6-3, 245) FR
Notes: Comes to El Camino from Hawaii. "Boy is he having a great fall. He'll start."

DL Alvin Salima (6-5, 245) FR Carson HS
Notes: "Another good edge player."

Linebackers

MLB Brian Smith (6-2, 225) SO Peninsula HS
Notes: First-team All-Mission Conference Northern Division. Led team with 120 tackles last season, which led the conference. Great athlete who is a former high school option QB. Being recruited by PAC-10 namely USC. Graduates in January ‘03. Good student.

Elias Ellis (5-11, 225) FR Leuzinger HS
Notes: Will play OLB or SS. Runs real well for a big guy.

Pete Rosas (6-3, 245) FR Santa Monica HS
Notes: All-CIF on HS championship team last season. A little banged up this fall, but could make an impact.

Defensive Backs

CB Gerald Fletcher (5-11, 164) SO Westchester HS
Notes: Shutdown cover corner but physical. PAC-10 recruit. Summer Grad. Could be one of the better corners in the state and played a lot as a freshman.

CB Nigel Clements (5-11, 190) SO St. Bernards HS
Notes: Returning part-time starter. One of the fastest in the secondary.

CB Travis Johnson (5-9, 165) FR Narbonne HS
Notes: Made All-City his senior year at Narbonne. Has good skills and plays bigger than his size.

SS Jamal Gatlin (5-10, 195) FR San Pedro HS
Notes:
"Has a real nice feel for the game. Tough and flies around. Good on run support."

S Earl Williams (6-1, 195) FR Downey HS
Notes:
Very physical but has the tools to play man, too.

FS Marquis Walker (6-1, 190) FR Dominguez HS

FS Robert Clark (6-3 1/2, 205) FR Cypress HS
Notes:
Highly recruited non-predictor out of high school.

Offensive Line

OT David Avalos (6-3, 295) SO Leuzinger HS
Notes: Returning starter. Summer graduate. Best offensive lineman along with Nungarey. Good pass protector.

OT Soli Letuli (6-7, 310) SO Westminster HS
Notes: Returning starter. Summer graduate. Battling a little ding this fall but could have a chance to be very good. Will be one to watch.

OG Al Nungarey (6-1, 300) SO Downey HS
Notes: Returning player. Graduates in January ‘03. Could play ST, SG, or Center.

OG Josh Holloway (6-2, 265) SO Paramount HS
Notes: Returning player. Graduates in January ‘03. Voted one of the offensive captains.

OL Chris Voltatorni (6-3, 285) SO Mira Costa HS
Notes: Moves over from DL. Slated to graduate in January 2003.

OT Clinton Holiona (6-1, 290) FR Aeia HS
Notes: Arrives at El Camino via Hawaii. A very good prospect.

Quarterback

Ron Venters (6-3, 190) SO
Notes: Started last 3 games last season. 41-81-573 yards with 7 TDs, 2 INTs. QB rating of 133.5. Being seriously recruited by Michigan and PAC-10. Graduates in Jan '03. Played FS in high school. "Mobile enough and is a big physical guy; very tough."

Brian Johnson (5-11, 190) FR Westchester HS
Notes: Has very good feet and is developing into a good looking back-up to Venters.

Running Back

Chris Howard (5-11, 185) SO Banning HS
Notes: Bounceback from USC due to academicsHoping for him to fill shoes of Alvin Marshall who transferred to Compton College. Very highly recruited out of high school and had chance to start at USC. Is having a very impressive fall camp so far.

FB Je Hanson (5-10, 195) SO
Notes: Played for El Camino in ‘98. Had two brothers at El Camino: Javier and Jose Hanson (Texas Tech starter).

TB Marcus McCall (6-1, 215) FR Carson HS

TB Craigston Robbins (5-9, 185) FR

Wide Receiver/TE

TE Kolo Kapanua (6-4, 245) FR
Notes: Bounceback from USC. "A great player. Dominating player." Featherstone is excited about Kapanua's overall abilities.

WR Morgan Ralls (5-10, 170)  SO
Notes: Returning part-time starter. Slot receiver who is a possession-type guy.

WR Joe Kensey (6-3, 195) FR Centennial HS
Notes: Fastest player on the team. Runs 4.4 in the 40.

WR Mike Sanford (5-8, 160) FR Westchester HS
Notes: Slot receiver with good hands and gets good separation.

WR Delvondre Kemp (6-1, 190) Tr. from Wisconsin Narbonne HS
Notes:
Bounceback from Wisconsin (redshirt last year) who just arrived in camp. Hasn't taken long to impress coaches. Kemp and Kensey will be the deep threats for El Camino.

Placekicker / Punter

PK Casey Gardener (5-11, 185) SO
Notes: Stats last year: 27-30 PATs, 8-11 FGs with long of 44 yards. Graduates in January ‘03.

P Wilfredo Licon (6-0, 240) SO
Notes: Stats last year: 37 punts for 1,374 yards (37.1 yards per punt; long 66 yards). Summer graduate.

Jim Chambers, former athletic director at Lynwood High School, takes over as the new secondary coach and will try to bring improvement.  Also Kevin McNeil, who is a former QB at Saddleback College, will be a volunteer coach with the receivers.  Coach Featherstone is still looking to hire another defensive line coach.  However, if he can't find one then he may coach on that side of the ball this year.

Coach Featherstone says that it is imperative to get off to quick start to be successful this year.  "It all depends on how you start out, I think, if you have a young team…If you don't play consistent ball in the Mission North you're going to be a 6-4 or 5-5 team," he said. 

The Warriors, ranked 12th in the COA pre-season poll, will be tested early with the opener at home against 11th-ranked Allan Hancock.  The conference schedule is always tough with games against Palomar (3), Saddleback (9), Cerritos (6), Long Beach (8), Pasadena (2), Riverside (18), and Mt. SAC (10).  "I think we can be as good as anybody else.  It all depends on how we play in those big games," said Featherstone. 

The Warriors have experience in some key positions, particularly quarterback, offensive line, and special teams. So some freshmen will have more time to learn.  Without an easy date on the schedule, however, the learning curve begins now.

 


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