TEAM & PROSPECT PREVIEW: Santa Ana College Dons

The Santa Ana Dons have fallen on hard times over the last two years. After being a perennial contender in the Mission Central for most of the mid-‘90s the Dons are finding wins harder to come by in the 21st century. A new era is beginning, however, with 29-year-old Geoff Jones taking over for the legendary Dave Ogas as the new head coach.

 

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
Notes:
Returning starter. Huge arm and good mobility.  Last season's stats: 58-113-770 yards, 7 TDs, 5 INTs. QB Rating: 120.1.

QB Cory Campbell (5-11, 185) FR Corona Centennial HS
Notes:
All-state wrestler. Great athlete.

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
Notes:
Played in HS All-star game two years ago.  Has been in spring camp each of the last two years and is now dedicated to getting a starting spot.  Nifty runner that finds holes quickly.

RB Joel Gonzalez (6-1, 220) FR Saddleback HS
Notes:
Will play TB and FB.  Coach Jones says that he could be a stud.  Very strong.

RB Mike Rogers (5-9, 180) FR Tustin HS
Notes:
Played with DeShaun Foster in HS.  Ran for 1,200 yards senior season.  Fast. Runs between 4.5-4.6 in the 40. Fastest of the running backs.

The receivers and tight ends are the most veteran group on the Dons.

WR Darren Wagoner (5-9, 170) SO Corona HS
Notes:
Transfer from Riverside CC. Tim Dwight-type build.  Timed on the track at 4.38 in 40. Most highly recruited player. Getting looks from Iowa, Central Fla., Cincinnati.

WR Aka Fox (6-2, 185) SO Roosevelt HS
Notes:
One of the best athletes on the team. Great leaper who played some QB for the Dons last season.

WR Fidel Carrillo (6-1, 185) SO Rancho Alamitos HS
Notes:
Played sparingly last season. Has had a great spring and has improved as much as anyone on the team.

WR Josh Short (6-1, 190) SO Irvine HS
Notes:
Team captain. Brother Keith Short plays for UCLA. Very versatile. Has played every WR position as well as punter and QB.

WR Seneca Booth (6-4, 210) SO Silverado HS
Notes:
Transfer from San Bernardino Valley College. Tall, physical, and tough.

TE Wade Rodrigues (5-11, 225) SO Roosevelt HS
Notes:
Excellent blocker. Caught 10 passes last season for 2 TDs

TE Greg Gladd (6-2, 245) FR El Dorado HS
Notes:
A great athlete who moved to TE from the OL. Jones thinks Gladd is one of the better TE prospects to come through SAC in many years.

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
Notes:
Only returning player on O-Line.

OL Rick Lewis (6-2, 290) FR Esperanza HS
Notes:
Expected to start right away. Very polished.

G Rafael Alvarez (6-2, 285) FR Esperanza HS
Notes:
Expected starter. Good technique.

OL John Sekona (6-1, 360) FR
Notes:
Grey-shirt last season.  Moves very well. He is the brother of recently graduated Dons safety, Peter Sekona.

C Nick Merica (6-1, 265) FR El Dorado HS
Notes:
First-team All-County and All-Star game participant. Very bright and makes all of the line calls.

RT Sal Solorzano (6-5, 290) FR Villa Park HS
Notes:
Big-time prospect according to Jones. Good drive blocker and better pass blocker. Recruiters are already knocking on the door.

OG Ryan Gilles (6-2, 250) FR Esperenza HS
Notes:
Plays physical and is growing.

P/PK Jose Pineta (6-0, 165) FR Los Amigos HS
Notes:
Accurate and strong leg.

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
Notes:
Good run-stopper.

DE Todd Clements (6-1, 230) FR El Medina HS
Notes:
Looked good in the spring.

DL Eddie Ramos (6-2, 265) FR Garden Grove HS
Notes:
Played in County All-star game.

DE Mat  Harper (6-2, 215) FR Northwood HS
Notes:
Fastest of the ‘backers. Runs 4.7-4.8 in the 40. A rush-end.

MLB Waio Stanley (6-2, 230) SO Roosevelt HS
Notes:
Cousin of former Dons LB, Chad Kalilimoku, who signed with Hawaii after last season. Waio is a big hitter.

SLB Justin Lang (6-1, 210) SO Valencia HS
Notes:
Good tackler. Team leader on defense, who is a great athlete.

WLB Dan Hanaumi (5-10, 190) SO El Dorado HS
Notes:
Defensive leader. High-energy type player.

WLB P.J. McNiff (5-10, 190) FR El Dorado HS
Notes: Ferocious tackler.

CB Cory Chatman (5-10, 175) SO Tustin HS
Notes:
Transfer from Cerritos College. Excellent cover corner. Highly recruited. Nebraska is among the suitors.

FS Jesse Romeo (6-3, 200) SO Saddleback HS
Notes:
Returning starter. Physical, big-hitter. Smart.

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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