Tough Early Schedule For PCC Football In 2019

Jabari Kindle is one of the team's top incoming freshmen at wide receiver for the 2019 Lancers, photo courtesy of Chris Cordova.
Jabari Kindle is one of the team's top incoming freshmen at wide receiver for the 2019 Lancers, photo courtesy of Chris Cordova.

The opponents don't change for the Pasadena City College football team from last year as the Lancers enter the 2019 season this weekend. But the reality is that third-year head coach Steven Mojarro's Lancers are going to be tested often in the first six games of the season.

Pasadena will travel to face College of the Desert in the '19 season opener Saturday, Sept. 7 in a 7 p.m. kickoff.

PCC is coming off a 4-6 season that saw the Lancers win their first two games, lose the next six, only to finish on a high note with two more victories.

This year, from Sept. 21 through Oct. 19, the unranked Lancers have the uneviable task of facing the following teams in a row: hosting state pre-season No. 12-ranked Saddleback, then playing three defending league champions all on the road in American Metro winner and #19-ranked Chaffey, American Mountain titlist San Bernardino Valley, and open American Pacific League play against #20-rated Allan Hancock, a team that is expected to be better than the 10-1 record it achieved last year as APL champs and ultimately winners of the American Championship Bowl. And Hancock's opponent in that bowl last year? San Bernardino, of course. 

"You can't get around it, but we are facing some of the best teams in the state during that tough stretch," Mojarro said. "What is going in the right direction for us is we have I think by far the best united, cohesive group of student-athletes in my four years at PCC (he was an assistant in 2015 before becoming the HC in 2016). We're very young in some areas, but we have kids that want to compete and give everything they have. They are willing to work hard and we have some veteran leadership to guide us too."

Returning from last year includes All-State all-purpose receiver/returner David Telles, who led PCC in receiving (37 receptions, 437 yards, three touchdowns) and the APL in all-purpose yardage (1,249 yards). An All-SCFA First Teamer, Telles is joined by four Second Team selections in outside linebacker Hector Palacios (30 tackles, led PCC in sacks with six), blue-chip offensive lineman Krikour Koustanian, and defensive backs Jeremiah Lugo (38 tackles, team-high 27 solos, one interception) and Shane Andrews (36 tackles, three pass breakups).

The following are factoids on the team followed by a position-by-position outlook:

Returning 2018 Letterman: 21
Sophomores from 2017: 3
Sophomores from 2016: 2
Sophomores from 2015: 1
Sophomore Transfers: 2
Total Sophomores: 29
Total Freshmen: 62
Roster Total: 91


At quarterback, for the first time since 2014 the Lancers don't have a college-experienced QB on the depth chart. Mojarro indicated it's still a 3-man battle for the starting job between newcomers Edward Norton (South East High, South Gate), Kade Wentz (San Marino HS) and lefty passer Richie Schroeder, a 6-foot, 185-pound talent from Monrovia High. Norton and Wentz are both dual threats as runners and passers. Wentz passed for 847 yards and 11 TDs and ran for 723 with 10 end zone scores as a senior. Schroeder was a Pasadena Star-News All-Area First Team choice back in 2016 after an All-Rio Hondo League season. Mojarro indicated that all three will see action in the season opener.

At running back, the Lancers are deep with second-leading rusher Darnell Williams (92 carries, 497 yards, three TDs) and third-leading rusher Salman Gurung (54 attempts, 347 yards, seven touchdowns) returning as well as Moses Gonzalez (18 carries, 81 yards) and Gary Chew. Newcomer Jahlique Stevens (Muir High) was a multiple-season, PSN All-Area First Teamer and All-Pacific League rusher while Fresno State bounceback Luring Paialii (Valencia HS) is a strong runner. 

At wide receiver, Telles is joined by letterman Drew Pendleton (22 catches, 276 yards, two TDs), frosh Justen Campbell (Rosemead High, from the PCC men's track and field team), and one of the most electrifying players in practices in All-Area and All-Pacific League talent Jabari Kindle out of Arcadia High. Another All-Area wideout is Ahmad Lipscomb (teammate of Kindle's from Arcadia) and a possible impact player is 6-foot, All-Rio Hondo League First Teamer Wheeler Smith from San Marino High. Returning from last year is Bryan Torres (eight catches, 64 yards, one TD), Joevontay Clayton and Nick Cozzie.

Last year, the offensive line was one of the team's strengths, but this year depth and size is a bit of a concern for Mojarro's coaching staff. The 6-3, 300-pound letterman Koustanian, who has received 4-year university offers from such programs as UCLA and Central Michigan, figures to be left tackle while returner Randy Ruano is expected to be at center. Redshirt freshman JeanCarlos Paz (6-5, 270, LA Wilson) will be at right tackle while sophomore Jorge Romero will man right guard and fill in at center. Newcomer Chris Cordova (5-10, 290, Franklin High) is working at left guard and another Franklin product John Lopez (6-1, 280) will see time at right guard. 

"We had a really strong line last year and that allowed us to lead the state in ball control," Mojarro said. "We are definitely smaller so we are going to have to be quick and execute faster. Last year, we ran the ball a lot, and we are going to try for more balance this season."


Mojarro said his team will use multiple defensive schemes. The team's defensive line lost three big performers to graduation in leading tackler David Vardanian (now at UCLA), Jasper Iheaso (Adams State) and Lionel Humphrey III, but some of the replacements include a returner from five years ago Robbie Kindle (older brother of Jabari who has been outstanding in practice), freshman Gabriel Hernandez (5-11, 295, Alhambra HS), and another Alhambra product in Andy Garcia. The outside linebacker corps is led by Palacios and 6-3, 240-pound talent Craig Francois (Cathedral High), a bounceback from Oregon State who is fast off the edge according to Mojarro.

The inside linebackers feature Pendleton (11 tackles, one interception in brief work last year) and Pailli, who both will play 2-way football, as they are joined by letterman Mark Navarro (18 tackles) and incoming freshman Lucio Rodriguez (5-10, 225, South Gate). 

The team's secondary could be a team strength after being a weak spot last year. Andy Reyes, a returner from 2017 (13 tackles, one interception), has the early starting job at strong safety with '18 letterman Darren Meyers (23 tackles) at the other safety. All-SCFA Andrews leads a talented and deep cornerback contingent that includes 6-2, 190-pound sophomore transfer Amir Davis (Muir High, East Los Angeles College), the experienced Lugo (38 tackles, a team-high 27 solos, one interception), sophomore Jamal Tims (17 tackles, three pass break-ups), '17 returner Josiah Purchase (12 tackles, two interceptions), and letterman Sebastian Ramos (23 tackles, one sack). Campbell will also be a 2-way player and top freshmen are Kaydon Spens (6-11, 180, Burbank High) and Jeremiah Hartfield (Schurr High). 


Telles was one of the best in the business last year, averaging 25 yards per kick return, and he will be joined on both kick and punt returns by Reyes and frosh Carlos Sanchez (South Gate). At placekicker, Mojarro is very high on strong-legged freshman Edson Zamarron (6-2, 160), the LA City Kicker of the Year from Eagle Rock High. As a senior, Zamarron hit a game-winning 42-yard field goal in a City quarterfinals win over Palisades. Zamarron also is battling sophomore incumbent Jonathan Borashan (32.7 yards average last year) for the starting punting spot. 

Mojarro's assistant coaching staff remains mostly the same with Fred Fimbres at offensive coordinator, Marc Paramo at defensive coordinator, Erick Valadez (running backs/offensive line), Paul Romero (running backs), Louie Corona (linebackers), Addison Hawthorne (defensive backs), Brandon McFee (wide receivers), Chris Ortiz (offensive line), Alfred Bejar (special teams, football operations). The only newcomer is former Lancer Antyone Sims, an All-Mission Conference First Team defensive back in 1999, who will also coach defensive backs.

PCC's first home game at its resurfaced new artificial turf field at Robinson Stadium is Sept. 14 when the Lancers host Glendale College in a 6 p.m. kickoff. 

"Allan Hancock will be the team to beat this year in league play," Mojarro said. "But we have the ability to finish high in the American Pacific race. I think the returning players are already built on confidence with our two late-season wins last year over LA Harbor and Santa Barbara. We had two really tough 1-point losses and we were a play away of upsetting Hancock (27-21 overtime defeat). We will be prepared and I think battle-tested by the time we face Hancock to start league."

The 2019 Lancers Schedule is at this link: