Vaqueros Play Tough, Win BIG

The Vaqueros season was capped off with a big win over No. 10 ranked Santa Ana College in the Western State Bowl, Saturday night at Sartoris field, in a game that epitomized the success the Vaqueros experienced this season.

GCC opened the season on September 2, with an exciting come from behind victory at San Diego Southwestern. The Vaqs found themselves down 17-7 in the fourth quarter; their only score coming in the second quarter, an 8 yard touchdown pass from Frankle Bernard to Chris Marshall. The Vaqueros responded with a pair of touchdowns; a Jason McNeil touchdown run, and a Julian Dewberry touchdown catch from Navid Sharbatdar, to beat Southwestern 21-17.

Glendale’s defense dominated Antelope Valley to post a 20-9 victory in their home opener, on September 9. Leading the defense were Josh Nesbitt and Grant Valentine. Nesbitt had two tackles and an interception, and Valentine had two tackles and two sacks to help lift the Vaqueros past Antelope Valley.

Next the Vaqueros ventured to Compton College, where the defense once again delivered an outstanding performance. The defense held Compton to 6 points and only 60 yards on the ground. Eliot Jones opened the scoring for Glendale with an interception returned for a touchdown, to eventually defeat Compton 14-6.

Against L.A. Southwestern, on September 23, Glendale dominated on both sides of the ball. On the defense both Luddim Montenegro and John Young both collected interceptions. The defense held L.A. Southwestern to only 52 total yards, including negative yardage on the ground. Quarterback Brendon Doyle threw for 154 yards and a touchdown, and the Vaqs won 30-6.

The following week, Glendale traveled to San Pedro High School to battle the L.A. Harbor Seahawks. The defense brought pressure on the quarterback all night, accumulating eight sacks, with Valentine leading the way with four. The defense allowed only 36 rushing yards and posted a 17-13 victory.

“We were able to have success because we practiced well,” said sophomore defensive back Michael Esquivel, who earned honorable mention. “When game time came, we were able to play aggressively and execute our responsibilities.”

The Vaqueros returned home on October 14, to face the L.A. Pierce Brahmas. The defense had four interceptions, including a 77-yard interception return by Matt Patterson, who was named WSC Defensive Player of the Year. On the offensive side, Brandon Torres rushed the ball for 126 yard and two touchdowns to lead the Vaqueros to a 28-3 win over the Brahmas, and give GCC its first 6-0 start since 1988.

“Every play I would give my hardest, said Patterson. “[During] practice or at the game.”

“We would all work together on the defense like a big family. This is the best defense I’ve ever played on.”

Glendale next ventured to Citrus College on October 21, and the defense again played well allowing only 10 points. Unfortunately, the offense was unable to move the ball. Valentine scored first for the Vaqs as he tackled the Citrus tailback in the end zone for a safety to cut the score to 7-2. In the third quarter, Jesse Ayers returned a punt 42 yards for a touchdown, but the offense was not able to convert on the two-point conversion and still trailed 10-8. In the final minutes of the game the Vaqueros missed a field goal that would have given them the lead. The Vaqs had suffered their first loss of the season.

The Vaqs regrouped and the offense scored 45 points for their best offensive performance of the season against West Los Angeles College. Doyle passed for 206 and two touchdowns, while Antony Cullors ran for 127 yards and also two touchdowns en route to a 45-21 blowout of West L.A. College.

The next week against Santa Monica College, Glendale had a poor offensive performance. The Vaqs were penalized for 110 yards. This hurt their offense whose only touchdown came on a 22 yard touchdown pass from Doyle to Abraham Venegas. On the final drive of the game, Glendale almost tied the score, but time ran out and the Vaqs fell 17-10.

Glendale bounced back from this loss in their last regular season game against East L.A. College, and posted their best game of the season. The offense controlled the game, rushing the ball for 217 yards and four rushing touchdowns. Doyle also threw two touchdown passes to Marshall. The defense allowed no points and gained their first shut out of the season. Alonzo Menifield, who was selected for WSC first-team defense, had five tackles, an interception and two deflections; beating East L.A. 42-0, finishing the regular season 8-2.

Finally, the Vaqueros had the honor of hosting the Western State Bowl against No. 10 ranked Santa Ana College. The Vaqueros defeated Santa Ana 23-14 thanks to their smash mouth ability to run the ball at will against the defense. Doyle threw a touchdown pass to Juan Magallon, and McNeil ran for a touchdown. Esteban had three key field goals to help lift Glendale past Santa Ana for their first bowl since 2001.

The defense this season was one of the best, ranked first in the Western State Conference and third in the state. Coach John Cicuto had to work with a young defense, consisting mostly of first year freshmen. Cicuto stressed intensity and discipline on defense, which paid off with a defensive squad that allowed an average of only 11 points a game, and allowed only an average of 60 yards on the ground per game.

“We had to make sure we were very basic and fundamental in teaching all our offensive and defensive philosophy,” said Cicuto.
“The most important thing is to gradually build the freshman into [a] situation in which they can compete. The reason we had so much success with this young team was that we were very basic to start the season, and as they started to get more in tune into what we were doing, we were about to add more into the offense and defense.”

Cicuto used his “ten step program” to coach his team and put things into perspective. His ten step program stressed the importance of playing one game at a time, focusing on the task at hand, and executing on offense and defense. Each game was one more step to success, and one step at a time, the Vaqueros won, starting off the season with six straight wins. Cicuto’s keys for success proved to be a triumph for the Vaqueros as they finished the season 9-2 with an impressive bowl victory.