Unfamiliar territory

With another year comes another attempt for perfection. For the California Lutheran University football team, this type of language is far from foreign. While the Kingsmen have not lost a Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference matchup for the past four seasons, the talented squad has sharpened their swords and strapped on their armor once again to defend their impressive winning streak in 2013.

CLU looks to take home another SCIAC title with a newly shaped team on both sides of the pigskin. The SCIAC powerhouse is led by former CLU lineman and Head Coach Ben McEnroe.

Including his years as an assistant coach, McEnroe has been a part of every SCIAC title won by CLU, which speaks for how valuable he is to this program. A five-year stint as the offensive line coach with the Kingsmen was not enough for McEnroe as he returned in 2007 to lead the violet and gold he once wore, taking on the head coaching position.
McEnroe looks to this season with optimism despite losing many of 2012’s personnel.

“I expect this to be a very good football team. Our recruiting class is as good as we’ve ever had, but there is no substitute for experience so it will take time to develop this team,” McEnroe said.

As McEnroe confirms, the recruiting class boasts many talented transfers in likes of starting senior quarterback Cameron Deen and senior tailback Wayne Chapman.

Deen, a former member of Mt. San Antonio Junior College and Division I Middle Tennessee State, looks to lead the Kingsmen to the promise land as a first year member of the team. In his first start for the Kingsmen, the 6-foot-4-inch, 218 pound senior completed 14-23 passes, totaling 135 yards with one touchdown pass in the mix. Deen’s first touchdown came on his first offensive series in the CLU uniform, driving down the field on 10 plays totaling 81 yards.

“Deen brings consistent leadership and a calming presence,” McEnroe said.

Chapman, who attended Cerritos College and played basketball, straps up his football cleats once again and “dots the I” for the Kingsmen in the backfield with fellow senior tailback Ryan Zirbel.

In the first matchup of the season for the Kingsmen against Pacific Lutheran University, Chapman was their biggest weapon in the end zone. The 6-foot, 205 pound senior rushed for 143 yards on 14 carries.

“Chapman can land in the end zone every time he touches the ball,” McEnroe said.

Zirbel, a power running back, leads the rushing attack for the offense as he was deemed the starter against PLU. In 2012, the 5-foot-8-inch, 200 pound senior finished the season with 272 yards on the ground and four touchdowns. He looks to add to his offensive totals this season.

The aerial attack consists of few familiar faces. With the departure of CLU alumnus and former Cowboys wide out Eric Rogers, who is the all-time leader in receiving yards, receiving touchdowns, receptions and total scoring, Deen and the Kingsmen offense look to sophomore wide receiver Andrew Worthley to carry a heavy load through the air.

Worthley was one of the top freshmen wide receivers in the SCIAC during their 2012 campaign. Starting all ten games for the Kingsmen, he totaled 198 yards receiving with one touchdown. He averaged 11.6 yards per catch and looks to make himself more of an offensive presence this season.

Worthley’s presence did not go unnoticed throughout the offseason and entering the regular season.

“My biggest role has probably been bringing energy to practice everyday,” Worthley said. “I’ve also tried to embrace a role of encouraging teammates when things don’t go well.”
Worthley is joined by fellow sophomore tight end Alix Moise Jr.

Moise Jr. flexed his offensive dominance at the tight end position last year while being one of the main targets for the Kingsmen. He hauled in 14 catches for 221 yards that led to two touchdowns last year. He has gotten off to a stellar start this year, catching 3 passes for 50 yards and a touchdown against PLU.

Sophomore wide receivers Sean Belloti and Justin Bloom, along with junior wide receiver Jacob Scott all join Worthley and Moise Jr. as offensive targets.

Worthley spoke highly of his fellow teammates.

“We have a lot of skill spread across the receiving corpse and a lot of different guys can make plays,” Worthley said.

However, the cliché term “defense wins championships” can be seen in full force on the gridiron for McEnroe’s Kingsmen.

While many newly acquired players are being slotted in, leading the way on defense is veteran senior linebacker Christopher Cabrera.

Cabrera, a four-year member of the Kingmen squad, has been a physical presence since day one. Cabrera has been recognized by the SCIAC earning Second Team All-SCIAC honors in 2011 and First Team All-SCIAC honors in 2012, despite being injured for the majority of the season.  In the first contest of the season against PLU, Cabrera recorded a game high seven tackles.

Assisting Cabrera on defense is newly assembled secondary led by senior defensive backs Derrick Romo and Randy Lee.

Romo, one of the few returning talents from the 2012 roster, is a staple for the Kingmen’s defensive scheme. The 6-foot, 195 pound strong safety made an immediate impact for the Kingsmen once he stepped on the scene last season, standing as the team’s leading tackler with 77. He looks to continue his defensive prowess as he recorded 4 tackles versus PLU.

Lee, a three year member of the City College of San Francisco, has been a defensive spark plug for the Kingsmen by picking off the PLU quarterback twice while also tallying up two tackles and one assist on Sept. 14.

Cabrera, Lee and Romo will be joined by fellow teammates John Perkins, Cameron McGee, Kody Duffy-Huerta, Bryce Henderson, Chris Bradley, Josh Bartley, Chris Johnson and Ed Davis to round out the starting defense, most of who are first time starters for CLU.

After falling to the then No. 12 ranked PLU Lutes 31-24, the Kingsmen traveled up to McMinnville, Ore. to take on the No. 3 Linfield Wildcats. The Kingsmen fell to the Wildcats 52-14.
Despite the preseason struggles, McEnroe has faith in his youthful squad.

“The future is extremely bright for this group of players and coaches. As long as we aren’t distracted by the schedule or who we’re playing, we have the potential to continue our dominance of the SCIAC. If we loose sight of those things, we will struggle,” McEnroe said.

CLU will open their SCIAC schedule on Oct. 5 as they visit Pomona-Pitzer at 1 p.m.

 

Nicho DellaValle
Staff Writer
Published Sept. 25, 2013