The Glendale Vaqueros football team has entered the new season with an attitude hardened toward winning. Despite last season’s 4-3 conference record and an overall 6-3 finish, the team’s efforts did not earn them a championship title. However, with seven returning players, the team is ready to take another shot.
“We will have 14 offensive linemen on our team this year,” said assistant football coach Alex Rome. “We are going to have a great balance of veteran leadership, as well as youth. However, we can only put five linemen on the field, so these guys understand that they are going to have to compete to get time. [This] will make us all the more ready.”
This year’s team has the perfect balance of strength and athleticism. However, second- year player Tanner Mayes does not think that it is their abilities as athletes that will be a problem in winning games.
“Physically we are all there,” said Mayes. “But it’s all going to come down to the mental part of the game that will determine our outcome.”
Among the 14 offensive linemen that will be on the team this year, seven of them are incoming freshman. Many of them understand that they may have to wait until next year to see time on the field; however, the cub linemen work well together and have a sense of rhythm to their game. They have also learned a lot from the returning players, including Jose Sanchez, who aims to help the freshmen improve their game.
“The freshman players will compete as hard as we do,” said Sanchez. “When these guys do something right or wrong, we pull them off to the side and try to help them become better.”
This year’s team understands that no one player will get them to the championship all on their own. They have to work as a team, or “a wolf pack,” as they prefer to call themselves.
“Our offensive line is a really nasty bunch,” said Tanner Farwell, an offensive line coach. “I believe that a lot of teams are going to remember us this season.”
Sanchez agrees with Farwell and says that the team’s bond is what will separate them from others.
“We are brothers on and off the field,” he said. “We are a wolf pack.”
To secure the team’s bond and attitude, they needed a coach who could guide them in the right direction. According to second-year player Austyn Walker, Farwell, a Vaquero alum, is the right man for the job, despite being only 24 years old.
“Coach Farwell is a young coach, there’s no denying that,” said Walker. “However, with the knowledge he has about the game, you’d think he’s an older guy. When you have a coach that can relate to you and has the knowledge that he does, you can’t beat that.”
Farwell definitely made an impact early this season, helping lead the team to a 41-0 victory over the East Los Angeles Huskies on Sept. 6. Despite the win, Farwell was not pleased that the Vaqueros settled for a field goal toward the end of the game. He said that winning teams do not settle for field goals.
“If we are going to call ourselves the best offensive line in California, I’m going to hold those guys to that standard,” he said.
Although this may seem harsh in light of the win, especially since the Vaqueros defeated the Huskies by such a large margin, the team understood where their coach was coming from.
“When Farwell said that to us, he was trying to light a fire under us,” said Walker. “I don’t believe that this team or the coaching staff is ever going to settle. Settling is for teams who want to be average. This team wants to be best.”
The Vaqueros offensive line also went on to defeat Mt. San Jacinto College with a 30-8 win. According to Walker, playing the Huskies early in the season was a learning game for the team.
“We found the weaknesses in our fundamentals and we fixed them before we played against Mount San Jacinto College,” he said.
With their rhythm and flow as a team, Rome believes that the offensive line will play a fundamental role in this year’s championship run.
“The offensive line will have to strive for perfection this year,” said Rome. “This year, we are working on technique. Although we aren’t working on a whole bunch of things, the things that we do work on, we’re going to have to be perfect at.”
Although the team has a lot of odds in its favor, including the seven returning players, Rome said his team does not take this for granted.
“Just having seven returners alone on our offensive line is a huge factor for this team, but what I really appreciate about this team is that they don’t feel entitled,” he said. “These guys want to earn their spots and the respect of the entire league.”
With their eyes on the championship title, the team is aware of how hard they will have to work, especially since they came so close to winning last year.
“Our guys know what’s at stake,” said Farwell. “However, we don’t want them thinking about last year, or the other squads. If we want to win the title this year, we will have to take it one day at a time.”
So far “one day at a time” has taken the Vaqueros to a 3-0 start for the first time since 2008. The Vaqs go to Pierce College on Saturday at 7 p.m.