Bolton lures new coaches, talent

Kale Butcher

After three-straight years of losing, Vaqs head football coach Reggie Bolton is making moves towards his first winning season.

“This isn’t the SBCC football team it was in years past,” said Bolton. “After beating teams like Moorpark, I know we aren’t far from becoming an elite team in our conference.”

Since Bolton took the reigns, City College has struggled, lingering close to the bottom of the league on offense.

Recruiting is a major priority this offseason for Bolton and his staff, who are evaluating nearly 1,000 district players on film and at games.

Bolton’s first step to improving the offense, comprised of nine returning starters, came March 18, when he hired offensive coordinator Craig Moropoulos, Santa Barbara High School head football coach.

Moropoulos comes to La Playa with a jam-packed resume that includes offensive coordinator positions at Alabama A&M, San Jose State University, Bucknell and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

He also coached quarterbacks at Boise State, University of Arizona and Texas A&M.

“So far I am impressed with the skilled position players,” Moropoulos said.

“My philosophy has always been to run the football and avoid turnovers. I know if we do this, the passing game will stand out with all the talent we have at the wide receiver position.”

We are deep at receiver, said sophomore Ryan Kimbrough.

“We plan to go over and around opponents next season, with size and speed,” he said.

The receiving core is strong with Marcus Rush, a 6-5 newcomer, and Ernie Pierce, last season’s offensive MVP.

Pierce has the size, 6-4, and the speed, 4.5 second 40-yard dash, that make him a threat.

Over the past two seasons, Bolton has started six different quarterbacks, five of them were sidelined because of injuries.

Bolton plans to protect his quarterbacks by changing his offense from one running back to two. The second man will stay in to block on passing plays.

In February, Bolton lured New Mexico Highlands running backs coach Manyata Watson to La Playa.

“[Moropoulos and I] want to change the offense to focus on utilizing the players instead of the scheme,” Bolton said.

On the other side of the ball, the Vaqs lost seven defensive starters to Division 1 schools like Western Washington, Portland State and Wagner University.

“We have talented players returning who were backups last season. But defense is the area we must focus on recruiting, particularly linebackers and defensive backs,” Bolton said.

Coaches are only allowed to recruit within the district, ranging from Santa Barbara County down to the Los Angeles Valley.

Players outside the area must make first contact with the coaching staff in order for recruiting to be legal.

Bolton said that some 500 players from outside the district contact the coaches during the offseason, and about 25 of them end up playing for the Vaqs.

Since coming back from spring break, Bolton started his team on a two-hour weight and speed program four times per week.

In mid-March they begin spring ball, which includes three-hour practices on Tuesdays and Thursdays and a weight and speed program on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Bolton said there are around 75 guys out for spring ball. He expects some 110 players in August for summer practice, all to compete for 80 spots on the travel roster.