By Pete Moye’
The East Los Angeles College football team who finished 5-5 overall last year, 2-5 in Mountain Conference play, tied for fifth place and missed advancing to a bowl game by one vote, will be improved in 2013.
“This isn’t the same ELAC team as it was in the past. We are a lot better,” Head Coach Steve Mojarro said.
The 2013 roster size is limited to 80 players due to recent budget cuts. As the 2013 ELAC football team wrapped up their spring football practices last week Mojarro insisted that each player that makes the cut will be a quality asset.
“If the guys don’t make the team, it’s not because they aren’t good. We have more competition than we’ve had in past years,” Mojarro said.
ELAC must replace former two-year starting quarterback Aaron Cantu, who is currently fighting for the same position at Southern Utah University.
Cantu’s aerial assault while at ELAC accounted for 64% of the Huskies offense last season. He threw for 3,358 passing yards with 32 touchdowns and only eight interceptions.
Gilbert Rivera and Daniel Farley have emerged as the top two contenders to replace Cantu.
Rivera is a freshman from Los Angeles Jordan High School. At Jordan he made 17 starts, throwing for 3722 yards, 42 touchdowns at a 73% completion rate.
Farley, who did not play much at Rhode Island University in 2012, is trying to bounce back and regain his form he showcased at San Bernardino Valley College in 2011. In eight games at San Bernardino Valley College he passed for 1,467 yards with 17 touchdowns.
The Husky offensive line will see an overhaul after the loss of two starters. center Alberto Perez committed to the University of Wyoming while guard Casey Baker is headed to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
Sophomores and wide receivers Dylan Gomez from Montebello High School and Alex Villalobos (San Gabriel) are the leading receivers viewed to lead the Husky aerial attack.
They collectively accounted for 40 catches, 400 yards and four touchdowns last season.
The Huskies have several players that they expect to have a goof season. Two of those players are from the offensive side of the ball, Will Randolph and Tyler Cooperwood.
Randolph, who played his freshman season at Texas A&M University in 2011, is a downhill runner with an approximate 4.2 speed (40-yard dash). He has spent most of the spring working with the first-team offense.
Cooperwood is a quick slot receiver with outstanding agility. His biggest asset is a fancy release at the line and still having the speed to pull away from the defender to make the catch.
Cooperwood spent time at New Mexico Highlands University in 2012 after graduating from Gahr High School in Cerritos.
The Huskies will have to replace three of their top four tackles from last season. Sophomore linebackers Shawn Esparza and Donyae Olton have used their two-year eligibility, while safety Kenneth Moore has yet to return to the team due to personal matters.
Esparza was the team’s leading tackler with 67 tackles. Olton finished with 46 stops and earned a scholarship to Morgan State University.
Cornerback Breeon Moreno is the only returning player from last season’s team that made all-conference. After posting 45 tackles, two forced fumbles and two interceptions, he was named to the All-Mountain Conference Second Team Defense.
Cornerbacks Cesar Jauregui, Dujuawn Jones and Tyler Smith will provide depth at the corner position along with incoming transfers and freshmen.
Defensive tackle Michael Wyche is one of the new faces on the defense and he’s expected play a major role in the team success. Wyche verbally committed to the University of Southern California on May 2, becoming the Trojans fourth commit of the 2014 recruiting class.
The return game is another element the Huskies will fill. Gone is defensive back CJ Dudley who returned 15 kickoffs for 383 yards, in addition to playing safety last year.
The Huskies open the season at home against L.A. Valley College on Saturday, Sept. 7. The two teams will kick-off their season against each other for the fourth consecutive year. ELAC has lost two of the previous three meetings.