The Cerritos College football team will open the 2002 season with their annual scrimmage against Glendale this Thursday at 4:00 p.m. The scrimmage will serve as a tune-up for the first game of the season, which is scheduled for Saturday, September 14 at 7:00 p.m. at Bakersfield. The Falcons (7-4 in 2001) are ranked #6 in a pre-season Southern California poll and are faced with one of the toughest schedules in the state.

Three of the top five rated teams in Southern California are on the team's schedule this season - #2 Pasadena City and #5 College of the Canyons, along with #1 Bakersfield. Additionally, the Falcons will also be playing #8 Long Beach City, #10 Mt. San Antonio, #12 El Camino, #15 Fullerton and #18 Riverside, while Glendale opens the season at #13.

The Falcons appear to be loaded at several positions this season, especially at running back, where the sophomore duo of Josh Herrera (La Habra) and Jermaine Whiten (Cerritos), accounted for 1,222 and nine touchdowns last season. They will also be joined by freshman Carlos Velasquez (Long Beach Poly), who is a bounce-back from the University of Nevada-Reno.

On the offensive line, the team welcomes back starting tackles Richard Estrella (St. Paul, 6-4, 285) and Clint Dato (La Habra, 6-5, 325), along with starting guard Anthony Guerrero (Downey, 6-4, 315). Tom Robinson (La Mirada/Fordam University, 6-5, 290), a guard last season, is moving to center, while Jamaal Todd (Long Beach Poly, 6-0, 290) also returns. Joining that group will be red-shirt freshman Kurt Landgren (Valley Christian, 6-1, 265), along with top recruits Francisco Anguiano (John Glenn, 6-4, 290), Kevin Weissenback (Edison, 6-3, 260) and Julian Diaz (Long Beach Millikan, 6-1, 300).

Sophomore quarterback Glenn DeBreg (Cerritos), who came on late in the season after Mike Harrison went down with a thumb injury, performed well. The Most Valuable Player of the Strawberry Bowl (he threw for 272 yards and three touchdowns), will be tested by red-shirt freshman Mike Keeling (La Habra), along with freshman Jake Schnekenburger (Artesia) and Joel Arias (Agoura).

The wide receivers are young, as only Randy Raphiel (Cerritos), Andrew Harris (Long Beach Poly) and Scott Bajza (Cerritos) return. The three combined for 43 receptions, which was one less than team-leader Chris Chatman. The team does have Glenn DeBerg's twin brother Jason DeBerg (Cerritos) and John Brasfield (Los Angeles), both sophomores who did not catch a pass last season. Coming in to help out are Freddie Davis (Gahr), an exciting player who was a medical red-shirt last season, along with 6-6 David Sutton from Long Beach Poly. Add in sophomore transfer Nathan Endemano (Whittier Christian/Azusa Pacific), red-shirt freshman Danny Kirkpatrick (Dominguez) and freshman Matthew Jaurequi (St. Paul/Long Beach City) and the Falcons do have a lot of numbers.

Sophomore Fausto Gonzalez (St. Paul, 6-3, 240) has been touted as a better player than Javier Martinez who transferred to the University of Arizona and has been moved to defensive end. Gonzalez caught 18 passes last season and could double that number this year. The team also has huge freshmen in Louis Davis (Dominguez, 6-7, 240) and Jonathan Johnson (Long Beach Poly, 6-6, 220).

The defense will be led by probably the best group of linebackers ever to put on a Falcon uniform. That is saying a lot because the team has sent linebackers to Ohio State (Jack Tucker), Oregon State (Jason Lowe) Washington State (Michael Hooker) and Florida A&M (Rajaee Barnett) in the last three years. Returners Justin Burks (Bellflower/UTEP, 6-1, 230) and Marcus Miller (Artesia, 6-3, 220) just might be the best tandem in the country. They combined for 73 tackles and three sacks last season. Add in freshman Alfonso Auelua (Pacifica, 6-3, 270), Rick Iloilo (Artesia, 6-1, 235), Maurice Leatigaga (Bellflower, 5-11, 205) and Brett Dunaway (Downey, 6-0, 210) and the Falcons are loaded.

LB Marcus Miller

The same can be said for the secondary, with the return of starting cornerbacks Mike Bragg (Mayfair) and Burnell Jordan (Locke), along with a bulked up Doug Stewart (Long Beach Millikan, 6-4, 225) at free safety and Cerritos has three-fourths of their secondary already set. Incoming freshmen Melvin Hunt (Dominguez), Eric Camarillo (Mayfair), red-shirt freshmen Ethan Allen (Cerritos), Eric Frierson (Paramount) along with a group of about four others will all fight for playing time.

On the defensive line, the Falcons will have the least amount of experience, but still have some good speed and size. Returning end Armando Calderon (Cerritos, 6-3, 235) is the real deal, as is run-stopper Loata "Big Nasty" Toliniu (Farrington, HI, 6-3, 320). Oregon bounce-back Randall Bowen (Dominguez, 6-3, 300) adds a great deal to the team, as do Stanley Kailahi (Norwalk, 6-3, 250), Jose Machuca (Artesia, 6-3, 290) and Wes Phillips (La Serna, 6-5, 312), who can play on both sides of the ball.

Sophomore punter Scott Mackay (Kennedy) is a pre-season All-American after averaging 40 yards a punt last season, while Adam Sonntag (Long Beach Millikan) was very reliable last season. He connected on 18-of-26 extra points and 5-of-8 field goals. Should he struggle, the team has brought in freshman George Villa (Bishop Amat), who had a great high school career and Gerardo Cornejo (Bellflower).

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