Last year Compton had one of those seasons that sticks in a coach’s craw for a long, long time. The Tarbabes had their most talented team in a decade and finished at 6-4, their first winning record since 2008, when the team went 7-3.
But Compton saw a 22-10 lead over Millikan evaporate and turn into a 25-22 loss, and an early lead against Lakewood fall apart after the game was called due to lightning and then resumed the next day. Compton finished the season with the third-best winning percentage in the Moore League but finished 2-4 in the league, taking fifth place and missing the playoffs.
Listening to head coach Calvin Bryant, it’s obvious that some of last year’s miscues still frustrated him.
“We could’ve been 8-2, could’ve been 8-2,” he said. “Lakewood, Millikan, Wilson games–they’re all frustrating because we prepare so much you expect to pull it out. But it didn’t happen. We squandered it. It’s frustrating. We’ve all been looking forward to getting back on the field for a long time.”
The team that will take the field is going to look a lot different than the Compton teams of the last several years. Bryant will still be employing his double-wing offense, but it’s going to rely on a different strength than usual. One of the reasons Compton has stuck with that attack was to take advantage of a surplus of skill position players, a surplus that has nearly run dry. In its place, the Tarbabes suddenly have more depth up front than they’ve had in years.
“We’ll go as far as our line takes us,” said Bryant. “We have high expectations, because the line is good–hopefully all the offseason work comes together.”
Compton’s line might be the largest in the Moore League, with mammoth players like Syre Williams (6’5” 330 pounds) and Israel Tornes (6’3” 335 pounds) among the league’s largest. Lonzo Williams, Nazareth Keohuloa and Zelon Dotson look like the starters around those two, with enough depth to go around.
Just as exciting for Bryant and crew is having enough depth to not force most linemen to play both ways. Jonathan Fernandez will play defensive line alongside Matthew Faafia, Kevin Prudholm and Dominick Sanchez, giving other linemen a chance for a breather.
While Compton doesn’t have as much depth as usual at the skill positions, they still have quality starters. Jaheim Hunt and Bill Wilson will be the team’s top two quarterbacks and running backs, with Jaishawn Smith and others ready to chew up yardage as well.
The combination of elite skill guys and more line depth has Bryant optimistic the year will end on a better note for his team.
“It’s about staying healthy and injury free, and it’s about setting our expectations high and meeting them, in everything we do,” he said.
Compton opens up with games at Compton Centennial and Santa Monica and home contests against West Adams and Dominguez before diving into league play.