PREVIEW: Grossmont College

El Cajon, Ca. – The Grossmont College football team has played in 17 post-season games in the past ten years, more than any other in California. Last year, first year head coach Mike Jordan and his new staff got a good start on keeping up the tradition by winning the Foothill Conference and going two games into the playoffs. PHOTO: Adam Herrod

Can the Griffins repeat their 2006 performance this year, after losing six all-conference players from last year's squad, including the loss of five starters from the #1 scoring defense in the country? Without a doubt, Coach Jordan says yes!

Arch rival Chaffey College and last year's #2 scoring defense, Victor Valley, might have something to say about conference bragging rights. Last year, Victor Valley held Grossmont to only 213 total yards of offense during regular season play, losing at home 7-16 against the Griffins, but going on the lose again to Grossmont 7-49 in post season play in the Southern California Bowl. "Chaffey always gives us a good game," says Jordan, who also admits that "we have lots of work to do." Both teams will be gunning for the men of G-House, ranked 6th in the J.C. Grid-Wire pre-season predictions.

If the Griffins prevail over conference competitors as predicted by coach Jordan, will the Foothill championship be a stepping stone for the Southern Cal and California State championships later in the season? Besides the aforementioned conference challenges, there are those pesky little pre-conference matchups with cross-town offensive powerhouse Palomar, J.C Grid-Wire's #16 pick, and last year's California champs El Camino, the projected #1 Junior College Football team for 2007.

Will this year's Griffins be able to handle such a schedule? "I like our chances going into every game," says coach Jordan. You could detect prudence in the coach's comments, but no lack of confidence in his players or coaches.

The casual observer might think that losses from last year’s stellar defense would handicap the 2007-model defense, but that didn't seem to bother the 2006 Griffin defense when they lost five all-conference defenders from the 2005 National Championship team and then proceeded to choke the opposition to an average of only 5.6 points per game in the regular season. Last year, Grossmont was the stingiest scoring defense in the nation.

Jordan is not worried.

Great teams don't rebuild, they just reload, and that is exactly what coach Jordan claims to have accomplished so far for 2007. "This is probably the best freshman class I have ever seen," enthuses coach Jordan, adding that "we have lots of returning sophomores in key leadership positions on both sides of the ball." ...not to mention a host of key transfers.

Jordan and his now-experienced coaching staff do indeed appear to have plenty of material to work with. Earlier in the summer, the defensive backfield was considered a potential vulnerability. As the season draws closer, the questions seem to have been answered by unexpected retentions and recruiting. DB Abraham Muheize (5-11, 205) provided a big boost by his decision to pass on a transfer to Montana State and return home to Grossmont for 2007.

Muheize will be joined in the defensive backfield by Adam Herrod (5-11, 190; PHOTO ABOVE) and San Diego South all-Star DB, Luis Villavicenzio (5-11, 180). Herrod was impressive at the combine as a wide receiver – who better to anticipate the moves of his former compadres on the other side of the ball? Villavicencio is a true "shutdown corner," according to Mike Hastings, Luis' high school and all-Star coach. "He moves well in space and has incredible body control off his feet," says Hastings. It helps to have 4.3 speed in the 40.

Fresh meat comes to the linebacker corps all the way from Fulton County, Georgia, where Kayman Sutton (6-1, 200) led his Creekside High playoff team in tackles and earned 4A all-State recognition two years in a row. Sutton is joined by Placera's Brian Ray (6-1, 210).

The new linebackers will play behind one of the most experienced and successful junior college defensive lines in college football, led by returning all-Foothill Conference DL Matt Moss (6-4, 270), already committed to Texas A&M for 2008. He is joined by DL Valentino Tofaeono (6-2, 360) who wowed the scouts at the Citrus combine with his quickness - at 360 pounds?!? DL Ryan Glazer (6-3, 290) returns to add to last year's 60 tackles and 6 sacks. Glazer is committed to the University of Kansas for next season. DE Magnum Mauga (6-0, 265) returns to the lineup after taking a medical redshirt in 2006 for a torn ACL. Mauga looks forward to terrorizing El Camino on opening day, the way he did two years ago in Grossmont's semi-final victory over the Warriors on their way to the 2005 championship.

Grossmont has traditionally fielded excellent special teams, and this year will be no exception, especially with the new rule for kickoffs to start from the 30 yard line. Special teams coordinator Dave Jordan is blessed with a bevy of first rate kickers, punters, snappers and athletes to work with, and work with them he does! Asked why the Griffins lavish attention on special teams in practice, head coach Mike Jordan responds that "kicking is a third of the game," then goes on to praise his dad Dave, saying "everything he does is done very well."

Special teams talent includes the gifted veteran Brett Hasse, who excels at all three specialist kicking positions and would be an automatic starter as place kicker, if not for a challenge from Alcorn State bounce back Jonathan Williams (5-10, 185), who earned post season all-Southwestern Athletic Conference honors last year as a place kicker for the Braves. The two are in a neck-and-neck race to replace last year's all-Foothill Conference place kicker Jared Ballman, who's now starting at Washington. Williams apparently has the lead as far as kick off duties are concerned. His deep kick offs will be well covered by the fast and experienced Grossmont coverage team, and the same level of athletic talent and experience will serve the return teams as well. Martin House leads in the competition to punt for the Griffins, and San Diego State Bounce back Pat Oberg (6-3, 210) comes in to compete for the long snapper position.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Griffins' O-line may be the most impressive of all. "Both lines are D-I," says Jordan, matter-of-factly. Returning veteran and future Louisville Cardinal C.J. Millenbah (6-4,360) is joined in the trenches by returning center Dan Rios (6-0, 290), University of Alabama-Birmingham bounce back Keavis Watkins (6-6, 350), yet another alumnus of Creekside high, and a bounce back from Oregon, Landis Provancha (6-5, 275). Provancha was a multiple sport athlete (wrestling, track) at Sprague HS in Salem, Oregon, where he led his team to the state championship in 2004 and made the football all-State roster as a senior in 2005. Veteran TE Kyle Marsom (6-3, 240) return from 2006, when he snagged 5 receptions for 61 yards.

A pair of electric speedsters lead the 2007 Griffin offensive backfield. Arizona bounce back and 2005 all-CIF running back Garen Demery (5-8, 175) is a scoring threat on any given down. Together with Serra's highly touted Chris Daniels (5-9, 180), the duo rushed for more than a combined 4,300 yards during their final high school campaigns. They are joined by Kayman Sutton's twin brother, running back Kimbi (6-1, 200).

At wide receiver, El Camino College donates greyshirt WR Ken Fields to the Grossmont transfer roster. Helix High's own Chris Smith (6-3, 200), and El Cajon Valley returner Jeremy Young (5-10, 195) provide the Griffs with plenty of additional offensive targets. Young made 9 catches for 107 yards and a TD in 2006.

Despite the return of successful quarterback John Soli (6-1, 190), there is healthy competition at quarterback for 2007. Sophomore Soli led last year's all-conference team, but is being pressed hard by veterans Dan Lewis (6-2, 200) of Tigard, Oregon, and 2005 returnee Blake Sutton (6-4, 205), who laid off in 2006. Sutton was 24 of 43 for 520 yards passing and 7 TDs with only 2 interceptions as Reilly Murphy's backup on the 2005 Griffin National Championship team. Newcomers Matt Jarvis, Andrew Ruiz and Brandon Fricke are in the mix and raising the stakes even higher.

Whoever wins the starting quarterback position at will have plenty of protection up front and lots of offensive weapons in the air and on the ground. This year's Grossmont offense looks to offer the traditional balanced Griffins attack and may be better than last year's squad.

Grossmont's offense may have to carry more of the load this year, as the defense faces early season offensive threats, first against the potent and equally balanced El Camino, and then against the perennially powerful Palomar offense, which may struggle, with the loss of All-American QB Tyler Lorenzen to University of Connecticut. The Comets won the last intra-county contest in 2002 by a single point, and they always seems to come up with offensive talent and productivity.

El Camino may be the only junior college in the nation with big men equal to Grossmont's own on either side of the ball. The results of the September 1 showdown between these powerhouse teams loaded with talent will not make or break either team’s season, but it might give us a preview of the Southern California Championship. No matter who wins, the contest between the 2005 #1 and the 2006 #1 is sure to be entertaining.

HEAD COACH and OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR: Michael Jordan, 2nd year as head coach, 16th season coaching college football, including 8 yrs asst HC

Dave Jordan, Asst HC and Special Teams Coordinator, 36th yr
Steve Johns, DC, 2nd yr at Grossmont, 16th yr coaching college football
Mark Deesing, DB, 18th yr
Anuyell Goodwin, WR, 8th yr
Garrett Robinson, LB, 4th yr
Ken Wilmesherr, OL, 2nd yr
Tim McMahon, DB asst, 2nd yr
Josh Barney, TE, 3rd yr
Matt Stern, DL, 2nd yr
Jamal Gardner, RB, 1st yr

2006 SEASON RECORD: 10-2

2006 Foothill Conference RECORD: 8-0

Southern California Bowl: W 49-7 over Victor Valley
Southern California Semi-finals: L 13-6 to Bakersfield

RB Chris Daniels, DL Ryan Glazer, K Brett Hasse, P Martin House, TE Kyle Marsom, DE Magnum Mauga, OL CJ Millenbah, DL Matt Moss, DB Abraham Muheize, DL Valentino Tofaeono, OL Dan Rios, QB John Soli, QB Blake Sutton , WR Jeremy Young

DL Nick Armstrong, RB Richard Caldwell, RB Chris Daniels, LB Cody Furr, DB Adam Herrod, K Tim Maghiny, LB Brian Ray, LB Kayman Sutton, RB Kimbi , Sutton, DB Luis Villavicencio

RB Garen Demery, WR Ken Fields, TE Pat Oberg , OL Landis Provancha, DL Keavis Watkins, K Jon Williams

Date, Opponent, Time
Sept 1 at #1 El Camino, 6 p.m.
Sept 8 #16 Palomar, 3 p.m.
Sept 15 Southwestern*, 3 p.m.
Sept 22 at San Bernardino*, 7 p.m.
Sept 29 - at Chaffey*, 5 p.m.
Oct 6 Desert*, 1 p.m.
Oct 13 Victor Valley*, 1 p.m.
Oct 20 at Antelope Valley*, 1 p.m.
Nov 3 at S.D. Mesa*, 1 p.m.
Nov 10 San Jacinto*, 1 p.m.

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