By Tadzio Garcia
The Huskies will defend their conference title to advance to a bowl game for the second straight year, which would be the fifth since the program began in 1946.
The Huskies begin their quest with a non-conference game against rival Los Angeles Valley College tomorrow at 6 p.m. at Monarch Stadium.
The No. 23-ranked Huskies open the season as the top-ranked team from the Mountain Conference in the Junior College Athletic Bureau 2012 California State Preseason Poll.
The Huskies however are expected to finish third in the Mountain Conference behind favored Southwestern College and Chaffey College. Both teams join the conference this season and are not ranked in the JC Athletic Bureau poll.
East Los Angeles College will renew their rivalry with Chaffey College. The series began in 1947.
The Huskies finished 8-3 last season, 5-0 in the Mountain Conference. It was their first winning season since 2000 when they were 7-3 overall, 4-3 in Western Conference Southern Division play.
“We have a tough schedule and are excited about our season. We will take it one game at a time,” said Steven Mojarro who returns to his fifth season as an ELAC football coach, first as head coach.
“Some of the key new Huskies include linebacker Donyae Olton, a West Hills College transfer, defensive lineman Demetrius Campbell (College of the Canyons) and wide receiver Robert McCovery (LA Jordan High School),” said Mojarro.
Campbell comes to ELAC seasoned with several universities showing interest such as Arkansas, Oregon State, Boise State, San Jose State, Memphis and Texas Christian universities.
“Also new to the team are wide receiver Alexander Villalobos (San Gabriel High School) and right tackle Steven Granillo (LA Wilson High School). Granillo is a bright kid who will help us a lot,” said Mojarro.
Quarterback Aaron Cantu, last year’s American Division / Mountain Conference Player of the Year returns to lead the Husky offense.
“I’m back and I’m looking forward to ELAC having an even bigger season. It will take a lot of work but there are a lot of great new guys. We will find out who our guys are after the first game against Valley, who will be a test to say the least,” said Cantu.
L.A.Valley also begins the season with a first year coach in Larry Kerr.
Kerr has 37 years experience as a football coach including stints at Colorado State, Standford, Duke and San Jose State univerisities. Locally he coached at UCLA and Whittier’s Pioneer High School.
The Huskies beat the Monarchs 41-40 in 2009 at Weingart Stadium. Valley won last year at ELAC, 47-26, and 28-21 in 2010 at Monarch Stadium. The series began in 1950.
“Valley has had our number for two years. It’s important for us to start the season off with a win against them. We play exciting junior college football with talented players who will move on to the next level,” said Mojarro.
Other Husky standouts returning from last season are two American Division / Mountain Conference 1st Team Offense standouts offensive lineman Alberto Perez (Schurr High School) and running back Preston Oliver (LA Marshall High School).
Also returning are 1st Team Defense aces defensive linebacker Hector Cazales (Garfield High School) and center Kyle Cook (La Mirada High School).
“We’ve worked hard all summer and are prepared and ready to do what we’ve got to do this season starting off with Valley,” said Cook.
The team held a scrimmage two weeks ago at Weingart Stadium with about 500 hundred fans in attendance.
“We are very excited about our fans especially those that were at our bowl game,” said Mojarro. ELAC had a large vocal fan base at last year’s 42-28 American Bowl win over host Santa Monica College.