After a Tough Last Season, Corsairs' Expectations Are Nothing Less Than a Championship
You see the players hanging out around campus, and never really bother to even find out who they are, or what they are about. These young men could potentially have one of the best seasons in a rich football tradition here at SMC.
This team, our team, when it's all said and done could be conference champions, bringing glory back to a historic program that has produced incredible NFL superstars such as Isaac Bruce, Chad Johnson and Steve Smith.
"I've always had high expectations," said Head Coach Taylor. "The sight we have this year is to win a conference championship...This group is a better group then we had last year."
The goal resonates among his players, Robert Armstrong, Everett Burns, Carl Capers and A.J. Annelus. When asked what their expectations of this season were, they all answered with one word: "championship."
All you really need to do is sit down with 14-year Head Coach Robert Taylor, and listen to him speak and you will understand why his players believe in what he preaches.
"We talk about winning a championship every day. You don't have a chance to be champion all the time. To be a champion at this level is real special and I want these kids to be part of it," said Taylor.
The man was born to coach whether it is football or life. Coach Taylor wants his players to be "positive about academics, positive about football, and positive about themselves."
He is one of seven African-American coaches in junior college football, something he is extremely proud of. "It's like being the President of the United States except there is only one. I am one of seven black [junior college] football coaches. I am very proud of that fact." The stage is set, the players are ready, now let's get down to the nitty gritty and evaluate our Corsairs.
Let's start with the offense. Nasouf Luqman is projected to be the starter for the Corsairs, but will be backed up by Brady Mcmannis, a young player who coach describes as having a lot of "swagger."
That doesn't mean the other two backups won't get time. "I'm happy with that whole group, I like all of them, but we can't have four different snaps. But this is football you never know they could all play."
The receiving core is very deep and very strong, led by Edwin Reed who was injured last year but could end up being "one of the most exciting [junior college] football players in the state" and honorable mention all conference wide out, Joshua Martin.
"We are deep at wide out, we have a lot of freshman. I expect them to be outstanding," said Coach Taylor with a smile.
Last year the team's weakness was the offensive line. Not this year. Having nine to 10 linemen instead of five the previous year, though Coach Taylor believes you can never have too many offensive linemen on your team.
With Mario Gomez and Manny Silva both out with minor injuries, the others are going to have to pull their weight for the first couple games of the season.
Charles Poland, Rudy Gomez, Everett Burns are among the many names that will protect the quarterback and allow offensive coordinator David Banuelos to work his magic.
We get to the running backs and that's when Coach really starts to get into it, adjusting himself in his seat, proudly announcing "we have the two best tailbacks in the conference, these guys are unselfish, they really like each other."
He is talking about Cedric Hayes, with eight touchdowns and 550 yards rushing last year and all conference tailback Daron Bartholomew.
Let's not forget Micheal Butler who will be waiting in the wings. Butler can play for anyone, and will get a chance to go out, and showcase his talent this season.
Now we move to the defense, with fiery defensive coordinator Rory Barnett calling the shots, who always "makes things happen for you that you might not think you have."
The 4 3 defense features a linebacking core that Coach Taylor said "is one of the best we've had in a long time." The anchor of that group will be returning all conference middle linebacker Charles Hatchett, who is currently being recruited by many schools.
Robert Garica, Anton Fischer, Carl Capers and a cast of others round up this superb core. "Our corners are going to be pressing a lot," said Taylor, playing mostly man-to-man behind the front seven. Freshman A.J. Annelus is among those four who will protect the air for the Corsairs.
The defensive line will "create some havoc on people." Damon Middleton, according to Taylor, has really worked hard to come back. Bernard, Roderick, and Bryan Allen are going start and they will be looking to bust any offensive line that stands between them and the opponent's quarterback.
One special team we can expect to see is made up of Reed, Emery and Eric Jordan who are another group of talented freshmen wide receivers. These three players will be called upon to make good decisions returning the ball to establish a good field position for the explosive offense.
That's our team, and like Coach Taylor confirmed "It doesn't matter where we play, Santa Monica [College] football never backs down; we always show up to play."