The562’s season previews for the 2022-23 school year are sponsored by Vertical Raise, the official team fundraising partner of The562.
Longtime Compton football coach Calvin Bryant does not want to talk about last year. Did his Tarbabes make the playoffs in dramatic win-and-you’re-in fashion? Yes. Did they make a run all the way to their first championship game appearance in more than three decades? Yes. But Bryant says none of that has anything to do with this year’s Compton team.
“They have to be mentally focused and not think about what happened last year,” said Bryant of his team. “This is a brand new season, nobody cares about what happened last year or what we did last year. We got to go and perform.”
Bryant’s four-year starter and captain Aava Lilomaiava agrees.
“We had that championship feeling we’re trying to get that feeling back,” he said. “But at the same time there’s a lot of new guys learning the system and coming up.”
Compton finds itself in a familiar spot. The starting 11 on both sides of the ball for Compton are as good as almost any other team in the Moore League, but the team has very little depth. If they can stay healthy they’ll have a shot in every game they’re in.
“We’ve got to stay in shape and keep our guys healthy, that’s always key for us,” said Bryant. “If we’re healthy throughout the season we’ll be competitive.”
Lilomaiava will be one of the players leading the way–the respect his teammates have for him is obvious from any game or practice. When he speaks, they listen, and he’ll be running the show on both sides of the ball for an entire game as the starting quarterback and middle linebacker.
“He’s a really key guy and a great leader for us and has been for four years,” said Bryant.
The most physically gifted player on the team is defensive end/tight end Kingston Moa, a Division 1-caliber stud who is a threat to wreck an opponents’ gameplan every play on either side of the ball. Moa was the Moore League Defensive Lineman of the Year last year but could see time at outside linebacker this year as Compton switches to an odd front under defensive coordinator Jermaine Ford, a Compton stalwart who was part of Dominguez’s championship runs.
The other key returner for Compton is Erick Barrios, who was a star as both a running back and defensive back last year and who was a first-team All-Moore League player as a result. Barrios is small but has great change of direction and burst speed and is hard to tackle, especially in Compton’s famous double-wing offense.
Asked if his team was going to switch things up in terms of its system this year, Lilomaiava laughed.
“You know Cali, he’s a stubborn guy, we’re going to roll with what we’re going to roll with,” he said regarding the double wing.
It is, truth be told, the perfect offense for the roster that Bryant usually fields. As usual they have a huge offensive line and several speedy options to carry the ball. With discipline and focus they can run the double-wing such that teams don’t know where the ball is going, giving Barrios, Amir Ford, and DeShawn Sheppard the chance to run clean out of what initially looks like a massive mess of humanity.
“It’s Compton, so we’re going to play Compton football,” Bryant said with a smile. “Everyone knows what that is. We’re going to make people defend us, we’re going to see if we can perform and execute at a high enough level to win.”
8/19 -- vs. Dymally
8/26 -- @ Compton Centennial
9/2 -- @ Paramount
9/8 -- vs. Eisenhower
9/16 -- vs. Cabrillo
9/23 -- vs. Wilson
9/30 -- BYE
10/7 -- @ Jordan
10/14 -- @ Millikan
10/21 -- @ Long Beach Poly
10/28 -- @ Lakewood
*Home games at Compton College
QB – Aava Lilomaiava (Sr.)
RB -- Erick Barrios (Sr.) / Dwayne Douglas (Sr.)
RB -- Amir Ford (Sr.)
RB -- DeShawn Sheppard (Sr.)
OL -- Asofiafia Nu’u (Sr.)
OL -- Jake Laulusa (Jr.)
OL -- Orlando Guzman (Jr.)
OL -- Dallin Tonumaipea (Jr.)
OL -- Ishaun Adams (Jr.)
TE -- Kingston Moa (Sr.)
TE -- Jeremiah Hall (Sr.)
DL -- Jake Laulusa (Jr.)
DL -- Asofiafia Nu’u (Sr.)
DL -- Kingston Moa (Sr.)
LB – Aava Lilomaiava (Sr.)
LB -- Elijah Bell (Sr.)
LB -- Prince Brown (Sr.)
DB -- Erick Barrios (Sr.)
DB -- Amir Ford (Sr.)
DB -- John Bledsoe (Sr.)
DB -- Taijon Direaux (Sr.)