Corsairs football eagerly anticipating season
The Santa Monica College football team is coming off back-to-back Pacific Conference championships for the first time in three decades.
With an especially high turnover rate at the junior college level, it is difficult to win one conference championship, let alone back-to-back titles.
The Corsairs are not resting on their laurels. They know how difficult a possible three-peat will be.
“Right now, we’re reloading for next year, trying to make it three in a row," says SMC head coach Gifford Lindheim. "You have to remember in a two-year cycle, you have to replace upward of 65 percent of your roster, including probably eight or nine starters on each side of the ball.”
Such a high success rate can lead to an even higher number of transfers to Division I, II and III programs.
Last year, SMC transferred five players to Division I programs including defensive tackle Marcus Manley, who recently committed to the University of California, Berkeley.
Also among the notable transfers is last year's starting quarterback, Alfonso Medina, who committed to Weber State University.
“We’re the number-one transfer program around, and we’re about 90 percent local guys," says Lindeheim. "When I first got here, there were 65 out of state guys and they won one game. But things have changed, and it makes it easier to recruit with success behind you."
With wide-open quarterback and wide-receiver spots this year, the team will be looking at the defense to lead them from opening day. Helping anchor that defense will be the team’s defensive backfield.
“It’s the best defensive backfield I’ve ever seen at this level," says Lindheim. "Our best returning player is probably safety Qujuan Floyd. He was an All-American last year and he’s a preseason All-American this year."
Joining Floyd in the backfield will be returning cornerback Donte Brown, who has high expectations for next season as well as personal goals.
“My goals are to help set records," says Brown. "We have an amazing defense with a lot of talent."
The new lineup will be highlighted by the competition at quarterback.
“The [quarterback] competition is really interesting," says Lindheim. "Returning back from last year, Matt Miller, will be competing with Brad Hunt as well as Jerry McConico and some incoming freshman, probably nine all together."
Another notable storyline for the offense is the open competition at wide receiver.
“We graduated our top three wide receivers last year, so there are a bunch of guys competing at the spot,” says Lindheim.
One of the players competing for the wide receiver position this season is returning sophomore Cameron Stevens.
“We have a new fast paced offense; we’re going to get a lot of plays in and put a lot of points on the board,” says Stevens.
Though the offense may seem like a work in progress, the Corsairs are returning running back Eric Kyle, as well as adding tight end Everton Thaxter, who was a standout at El Camino College last year.
“I anticipate that Thaxter will be a strong presence in our locker room,” says Lindheim.
How well the roster will mesh and perform together is something that is weighing heavily on the minds of the coaching staff.
“I know we’ll be talented, but the question is can we bring it all together, teach the guys our style of football and be successful on the field," says Lindheim.
"Our goal every year is to compete for a conference championship, and although we’ve been successful the last couple years that doesn’t mean anything," says Lindheim. "You have to recreate it all again."