By Dan Gudino
The football team matched the win total of last year (two wins) with a high-powered offense, defeating San Diego Mesa College 42-23 on Saturday at Weingart Stadium.
The response from all players and coaches was the same, this is a brand new team and last year does not matter.
The Huskies’ offense capped off the night with six touchdowns and 459 yards of total offense. The ELAC faithful gave the team a standing ovation at the end of the game.
Four of the six TDs came from sophomore quarterback Jonathan Santos, who in the opening drive of the game fumbled a snap, giving Mesa an easy touchdown on its first play of the game.
“No way did we ever worry about the first fumble. We (the defense) didn’t worry. We knew it was a small mental mistake. We all knew as a team that we would come back quick, and the offense did, putting up 42 (points),” ELAC sophomore cornerback Cinwon Whitehead said.
Santos recovered well and threw TD passes of 20 and 40 yards to sophomore tight end Ceejhay French-Love on consecutive possessions.
French-Love fired up the Huskies with his second touchdown, dragging one defender on his back for eight yards and giving a stiff arm to the chest of another to walk in for the score. French-Love, with his 6-foot-5 frame, dominated the smaller Mesa defenders and finished with five receptions for 111 yards.
“I was always thinking, ‘I got to get in there, I got to get in there,’ each time.
“This is big for us, but next week, just wait, we’ll be even better. We feel good and we trust everybody on this new team,” French-Love said.
ELAC’s former head coach, Eric Marty, was mentioned a few times by returning players and all said this year will be better with first-year head coach Bobby Godinez.
“Matching last year’s win total does not really matter. We have high expectations for this team, this year. The (coaching) staff sets the bar high and we want to reach it. I have full faith in this team that it will respond in tough situations this year,” Godinez said.
ELAC wide receivers contributed heavily. Freshman wide receiver Kenny Allen caught three passes and led all receivers with 133 yards, while sophomore Kyree Wallace caught two TDs for 80 yards.
“I wanted the ball badly. I was determined to have the ball.
“I want the ball as soon as a play starts. Practice has been elevated now. That’s how we get better,” Wallace said.
The last time ELAC scored 40 or more points was in 2014.
ELAC produced 60 of its total rushing yards with seven different runners, all while missing two starters on the offensive line and losing starting sophomore running back Shaq Shelton. Shelton went out in the first half with a shoulder injury and did not return.
“Two freshmen (lineman) stepped in and played their behinds off. That’s who we are. We have the capability to do some big things because of the great talent we have on this team. I give credit to offensive line coach (Tyrone) Carter,” Godinez said.
The ELAC defense played mean and aggressive, sacking the Mesa quarterback five times and forced an interception caught by freshman safety Trevon Bordrick.
“We (the defense) can cut back on penalties, but overall we played a good team and came out with the win.
We had a bad taste in our mouth from last week, and we came out playing physical. It’s a mindset, a mentality, play fast and strong,” Whitehead said.
ELAC will prepare for the first game in the inaugural year of the American Metro Conference. ELAC played in the American Mountain Conference for six seasons and will now compete in the American Metro, which is the combination of three former conferences.
With four of the seven teams in the American Metro still looking for its first victory (0-4), ELAC’s game against Pasadena City College on Nov. 5 might determine the champion. ELAC’s last conference title and bowl appearance was in 2011.
No team within the American Metro has a winning record thus far. PCC and ELAC are currently tied with 2-2 records.
Conference play starts on the road at Santa Ana College on Saturday at 6 p.m.
Coach Godinez said a few weeks ago that it was not certain what to expect from Santa Ana, calling it an unknown within the conference and should not be taken lightly despite its winless record (0-4).
Shaq Shelton, running back, day-to-day, (Shoulder)
Dominique Lee, running back out three weeks, (AC Joint)
Jaren Jackson, linebacker, potential season ending (Achilles)
Francis Bongwalanga, offensive linemen, day-to-day (Blood pressure)
Juan Gonzalez, offensive linemen, day-to-day (Shoulder)
Marquis Arnold, running back, three weeks (Knee)
Christian Vega, linebacker, day-to-day (Ankle)
Shiloh Jordan, running back, day-to-day (Oblique)