Fresh start for football team

Cody Brumbaugh, Staff Writer

This year’s Vaquero football team is going through a youth movement. With only 14 players returning, there are many questions as Santa Barbara City College embarks on its upcoming season.

In 2010 SBCC finished fourth in the American Pacific Conference with a 4-6 record. Experience is lacking this season as the Vaqueros attempt to rebuild the team with 64 freshmen.

“We’re young and we have a lot of freshmen that we haven’t had in the fire,” said head coach Craig Moropoulos. “We’re anxious to see how they perform.”

Halfback Alonzo Winn will spear head the SBCC rushing attack. The sophomore product was second on the team in rushing last year with 450 yards and six touchdowns in only 89 attempts.

“Last year I ran too far ahead of my blocks,” said Winn. “This year I have become more patient and hit the holes as they open up.  I put confidence in my teammates. Without them I wouldn’t be as successful.”

Freshman Keegan Robilotta will replace the conference’s Most Valuable Player John Uribe’s place under center this season. Robilotta showed potential in the season opening loss to Hancock on Saturday, gaining yards through the air and by ground and passing for a single touchdown.

Freshman Pierre Hale is the Vaqueros’ top receiving threat. Hale has already made an impact, providing key receptions including a touchdown in Saturday’s season opener.

“I think everybody knows the expectations,” Winn commented. “The coaches have done a great job of preparing us, we know once we step on that field it’s game time.”

On the defensive side, Manny Hernandez, the standout player from San Marcos High School, led the league with 130 tackles last season. Hernandez was ranked first among conference punters last season with a 39-yard average.

“If my teammates do their jobs I don’t care about stats,” Hernandez said regarding a repeat performance this season. “If we get wins, that’s all I want.”

Linebacker Marcus Griffin returns this season as a starter after backing up Sam Shipley last season. Griffin is looking to guide the team in the 2011 season both on the field and in the locker room.

“I learned so much from Sam Shipley last year,” Griffin said. “I am really excited about this year; it’s my opportunity to step up and as a returner to be more vocal as a leader.”

Freshman Jaylon Jackson (6”, 292 pounds) looks to solidify the defensive line next to Kameahoo Kahaipo (6”, 258 pounds). Jackson is a two-time all-league defensive tackle out of one of the nation’s top high school programs at Bishop Gorman, Las Vegas.

“It makes a huge difference when you have Vegas [Jackson] in front of you,” said Griffin. “He brings experience and tenacity to the game. He really gets after it.”

Other standouts include two massive tight ends in Tyson Heller and Garrett Tinlin. Heller comes from strong football pedigree. His uncle is former San Francisco 49er Ron Heller who lives in Santa Barbara.

“There is a lot to build on,” Coach Moropoulos said after the season opener Saturday night. “I’m very positive about our defense and our offense. There are a lot of things to be excited about.”