The Long Beach City College football team will dedicate its upcoming season to Brent Le Roux, the Vikings lineman who passed away a few weeks before the season’s scheduled September 7 start. If the Vikings players and coaches are to be believed, it’s going to be one hell of a season at that.
“This is the deepest team we’ve had in the past few years, especially the line,” said longtime Vikings coach Brett Peabody. “We’ll be able to have a good rotation and we’re loaded at a few other positions.”
The Vikings went 4-6 last year, their first time not having a winning record since Pebody took over–LBCC had won the conference championship each of the previous three seasons. Last year, just about everything that could go wrong for the Vikings did, from injuries to players being removed from the team due to grades.
“We had some real character issues last year and I don’t mind saying that,” said Peabody. “We feel really good about the character and work ethic of this team. These guys like each other and they work hard together.”
The Vikings will need every guy they’ve got this year, as they have one of the toughest schedules on the West Coast. LBCC is ranked No. 31 in the nation by Rivals, and six of their 10 opponents this year will be ranked higher than they are.
“It’ll be a great test for us, we’ll really know who we are by the end of the year,” said Peabody.
LBCC will open up on the road against Grossmont and will have long trips to Bakersfield, Riverside, and Canyons this year. The home schedule will feature powers like Mt. SAC (Sept. 14) and rival Cerritos (Oct. 5).
The Vikings’ quarterback position is up for grabs as the season nears thanks to a lingering shoulder injury to Peabody’s son Drake, the presumed starter. The Vikings look deep and talented everywhere else. Up front, Moore League grads like Chris Marcoplous (Lakewood) and Josh Manuma (Poly) lead the way on the offensive line, with backs like Talaun Patton (St. Anthony) and Sayyid Galloway. The receiving corps is especially deep and talented with Zion Bowens (Poly), Tahj Wright, Zecheriah Dolphin (Wilson), and several others all working in a rotation.
Defensively, the Vikings will create havoc up front with a big, athletic group. Shane Irwin, Shaq Labeouf, Divine Obicheri, Tim Gomez (Poly), and several others will see significant playing time. The linebacking crew includes DeAnthony Jones, Bryson Parham, Pierre Hayes, and Jalen Johnson, and the Vikings secondary will be led by Amir Wilson and Bam Gibson at the safety spots and Dallas Branch, Malik Welch, and Deston Hall outside.
The fact that the staff is excited about 2019 doesn’t mean they aren’t still mourning the loss of Le Roux, as well as Tim Johnson, Bryce Turner, and Guy Alford, all of whom have passed in the last two years.
“It’s more of a struggle for me personally and the staff than it is for the team just because the turnover at the JC level is so high, not a lot of the players knew all those guys,” said Peabody. “For us, we’ve been through them all.”