Up until a playoff loss to eventual SoCal champ Mount SAC, the Marauder defense was giving up a mere 10 points per game. Jehlicka is no stranger to turning programs around. He did the same thing at West Virginia Institute of Technology, Tusculum College, and the University of Charleston. Every one of the teams went from down years to winning ones, and it all started with defense, Jehlicka’s specialty.
Jehlicka is excited about the new conference they find themselves in, the Pacific, where they should be a favorite to win. "I feel the new association will strengthen community college football, and will provide great leadership and direction for out sport. We are looking forward to playing new teams which adds to the excitement. We have a good coaching staff that works and recruits very hard. They have really helped make the transition smooth, and have a great desire to prepare our players."
AV will be led by returning QB Rodney Dorsette, who is a double threat with the ball. Dorsette won't throw for 2,500 yards, but he is a good game manager and will keep defenses honest with his feet. His main target will be Terrance Shephard, who is a dangerous receiver that averaged a whopping 25.6 yards per catch last season. Transfer Charles Johnson and freshman Jamie Jones will help the passing game. The ground game will be handled by Dominique Blood, who averaged over 4.4 yards per carry in 2007. Chris Ross (6-3, 300) will be the workhorse on the Offensive Line. Freshmen Meko James (6-4 305) and transfer Dillon Benewitz (6-5, 300) will follow his lead.
Obviously when you talk about a Jehlicka coached team, you are talking defense. The Marauders will be young up front, so they will have to rely on a very experienced secondary in the beginning of the season until the front six gets comfortable with the speed of the college game. Troy Butler (2 INT), Demetrius Collins (3 INT), Marcus Wyre, James Andrews, and Eddie Russ make for a very solid defensive backfield. Transfer Fred Anderson will give them a deep secondary. Russ and Shepard will also handle kick return duties, both averaging around 25 yards per return last season. The Linebacking corp will feature freshmen Chris Whitney, David Pack, and Chad Davis.
The Marauders will have a solid kicking game with Javi Navarro and Brett Lloyd, both capable punters and kickers.
In my opinion, the Marauders will be favored in the Pacific, but Juco ball is hard to predict. Jehlicka believes in preparing his team one game at a time. "We are excited about our season. Our only goal is the same as last year. We work to go 1-0 each week, and will just add them up at the end. We feel that our league will be very competitive and look forward to competing each week." I don’t doubt that. The Marauders have quickly turned into a formidable opponent on anyone's schedule. The Antelope Valley area has some good local talent, and with Jehlicka's recruiting skills, the horizon looks very promising for their program.