Jones was a TE for the Dons during the '92-'93 seasons and has been the WR's coach and offensive coordinator for the last 7 years. "I have a new respect for this job. As an assistant you come in, do your (own) role, and do whatever you've got to get done. But there's things to do from this chair every single day," said Jones.
One of those chores will be to turn around a team that went 3-7 last year and has not been a contender in the Central Division since '99. Jones' coaching staff will obviously be a big help, and it's a staff that remains relatively unchanged from last season. Simon Fuentes, a former Dons QB , returns for his second season as QB coach. Mike Ogas, Dave's son, takes over as WR coach for Coach Jones. Mike played for Santa Ana in '95-'96. Matt Welch, a former Dons OT in '97-'98 and USC TE, will coach the TEs. Zach Biehl, who was the coach at Newport Harbor for the last 7 years, will coach the offensive line. Jones says of Biehl, "This guy, I think, is one of the best young coaches around right now. We're lucky to have him…we've always been sort of a laid-back coaching staff. And he's added a lot of spark to us." The defensive staff remains intact.
The Dons return 7 players on offense from last year and 8 on defense. Here are a few players to watch as the season gets under way:
QB Kelly Coburn (6-2, 215) SO Westminster HS
QB Cory Campbell (5-11, 185) FR Corona Centennial HS
The running back position is young but not completely inexperienced. A replacement for the ultra-productive Brandon Fischer must be found. Many in the depth chart are redshirt-freshmen who have been in camp before.
RB Dache Dameron (5-9, 180) FR Villa Park HS
RB Joel Gonzalez (6-1, 220) FR Saddleback HS
RB Mike Rogers (5-9, 180) FR Tustin HS
The receivers and tight ends are the most veteran group on the Dons.
WR Darren Wagoner (5-9, 170) SO Corona HS
WR Aka Fox (6-2, 185) SO Roosevelt HS
WR Fidel Carrillo (6-1, 185) SO Rancho Alamitos HS
WR Josh Short (6-1, 190) SO Irvine HS
WR Seneca Booth (6-4, 210) SO Silverado HS
TE Wade Rodrigues (5-11, 225) SO Roosevelt HS
TE Greg Gladd (6-2, 245) FR El Dorado HS
Coach Jones is very happy with his group of incoming offensive linemen. The Dons did suffer a big blow, however, when talented left tackle Mark Villafuerte (6-4, 290; FR) tore his ACL early in fall camp. He is drawing considerable attention from four-year schools already.
T John Takapu (6-2, 350) SO Santa Ana HS
OL Rick Lewis (6-2, 290) FR Esperanza HS
G Rafael Alvarez (6-2, 285) FR Esperanza HS
OL John Sekona (6-1, 360) FR
C Nick Merica (6-1, 265) FR El Dorado HS
RT Sal Solorzano (6-5, 290) FR Villa Park HS
OG Ryan Gilles (6-2, 250) FR Esperenza HS
P/PK Jose Pineta (6-0, 165) FR Los Amigos HS
The defense is young but shows promise. Jones was happy with their performance against Southwestern in the recent fall scrimmage.
DL Lene Sisifo (6-1, 260) FR Santa Ana Valley HS
DT Nelson Calderon (6-2, 275) FR Mater Dei
DE Todd Clements (6-1, 230) FR El Medina HS
DL Eddie Ramos (6-2, 265) FR Garden Grove HS
DE Mat Harper (6-2, 215) FR Northwood HS
MLB Waio Stanley (6-2, 230) SO Roosevelt HS
SLB Justin Lang (6-1, 210) SO Valencia HS
WLB Dan Hanaumi (5-10, 190) SO El Dorado HS
WLB P.J. McNiff (5-10, 190) FR El Dorado HS
CB Cory Chatman (5-10, 175) SO Tustin HS
FS Jesse Romeo (6-3, 200) SO Saddleback HS
The Dons scrimmaged against Southwestern College last week and they open the regular season on September 14th at College of the Canyons (#5). Coach Jones feels that in order to get to get better his team must be consistent. Based on the scrimmage and practices it looks like the Dons are playing better as a team although the talent and experience level may be down a bit from '01.
"My goals are being competitive every week. We want to be executing on both sides of the ball. We want to be a disciplined team,
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