The562’s season previews for the 2022-23 school year are sponsored by Vertical Raise, the official team fundraising partner of The562.
The 2022 football season brings with it a refreshing return to normalcy for the Long Beach City College football program. After having their 2020 season shut down due to the pandemic, the Vikings had a limited offseason program prior to the 2021 campaign and struggled to a 4-6 record.
“We didn’t think that the lack of an offseason last year would have as strong an impact as it really did,” admitted LBCC head coach Brett Peabody. “But when we got to playing and you saw guys in new positions, especially on offense, there really wasn’t a lot of continuity.”
Peabody’s coaching staff this season includes some familiar names from the Moore League, with Rick Smith (Long Beach Poly), Daylon Cason (Lakewood/LBCC) and Darren Johnson (Cabrillo/LBCC) all on board. Peabody praised their energy in helping bring the team closer together.
“The last three weeks of summer ball, you can see them respecting the talent on each side of the ball,” Peabody said. “And then you can see them all coming together and giving each other some love and support and realizing iron is truly sharpening iron. That was really, really refreshing for us as a coaching staff. We feel really good about the chemistry, attitude and talent and how coachable the team is.”
There are a number of position battles that will play out over the next few weeks before the season opener on Sept. 3, but Peabody is happy with the overall talent level of the team, which should once again produce a number of Division I signees.
Perhaps the most important position battle will be at quarterback, where Millikan alum Qeanu Campbell-Caldwell is in a three-way battle with Blaze McKibbin and Will Madonna for the starting gig. Campbell-Caldwell is the career touchdown leader at Millikan, but McKibbin has college experience from last season, appearing in eight games as a freshman for LBCC.
Whoever takes the snaps will benefit from an offensive line with good size and depth. Peabody believes most of the o-line will move on to the next level, and there’s a distinct local flair with Jakob Belton (Wilson), Ethan Petaia (Millikan), Brandon Pati (Poly) and Champ Ulufale (Poly) all in the mix. Starting center Matt Barcot has also really impressed this offseason.
One of the most exciting groups for the Vikings is at wide receiver, where a number of players will be involved. Trennel Ridgley could be poised for a breakout season after converting from running back to wide receiver last year. He’s an explosive playmaker who has looked a lot more comfortable in his position as a sophomore, and he’ll also be on kick return duty. Ridgley will be joined in the slot by quality returners Deville Fata and Jaylon Morgan, who also got playing time last year.
At outside receiver, Kyle Miller has 4.3 speed to stretch the field. He’ll be joined by a few gifted out-of-state receivers in Jaquavion Caldwell (Texas) and Andre Dimbiti (Arizona). Ryan Bowers is also a developing prospect at tight end, who has shown great improvement this offseason.
Defensively, Peabody is super high on his linebacking corps and expects to mix up defensive fronts in order to get more of them on the field this season.
“They’re all physical and they can all run,” he said. “They’re a fast, fast group of players and you can see they live in the weight room.”
Andre Jenkins is an imposing presence who runs a 4.5 40 and could be near the top of the depth chart. But the Vikings also have a couple of Division I bounce-backs in Austin Bressler (Florida Atlantic) and Alonso Person (Kansas) who should see plenty of time. Other options include Jagger Mosqueda, Lakewood grad Raymond Masoe, and returning starter Jake Otto, who was the LA City Section Defensive Player of the Year as a senior at Banning HS.
Up front, returner Corey Martin (pictured) should be a difference maker at defensive end. He had 5.5 sacks for the Vikings as a freshman and is looking forward to big things in 2022. Martin agreed that the full offseason conditioning program has himself and his teammates in a better spot than they were 12 months ago.
“It was exciting to get back to normal and we hit the weights hard this offseason,” Martin explained. “There were a lot of guys buying in and taking the weight room seriously and just trying to bounce back from last year and know that we can better ourselves and better ourselves as a team … We’ve got playmakers all over and I really feel like our defense will be the heart and soul of the team. But the offense is gonna bring it too, we’re competing every day in practice.”
The defensive secondary is loaded with talent and it’ll be a real battle for playing time. Thaddeus Dixon is a key returner for the Vikings after logging 34 tackles and two INTs last season. He and fellow returner Dallas Burke are both legit DI talents working for a spot at the next level. Trey Edwards is another returner at corner who saw quality playing time as a freshman. Jason Jones might be small in stature, but he’s not afraid to stick his nose in and make a play.
Special teams should also be solidified with the return of punter Jerron Lincoln and kicker Ryder Padilla. They’ll be challenged by Rey Sanchez and Mario De La Torre, respectively.
If the Vikings are to have a bounceback season, they’ll have to earn it. Eight of LBCC’s 10 opponents were bowl eligible last season, including all four Southern California representatives in the state playoffs.
LBCC hosts a scrimmage against Southwestern on Aug. 24 before welcoming LA Southwest for the regular season opener on Sept. 3 at Vets.
9/3 - vs. LA Southwest
9/10 - at Riverside (Noon)
9/17 - vs. Chaffey
9/24 - at San Diego Mesa
10/1 - vs. Golden West
10/8 - BYE
10/15 - vs. Ventura
10/22 - at East LA
10/29 - vs. Bakersfield
11/5 - at Allan Hancock (1 p.m.)
11/12 - at Canyons
(All games at 6 p.m. unless noted)
QB - Qeanu Campbell-Caldwell / Blake McKibbin / Will Madonna
RB - Jonathan Watson / TStrong Mataele / Gabe Collins
Slot WR - Deville Fatu / Trennel Ridgley / Jaylon Morgan
Out. WR - Jaquavion Caldwell / Kyle Miller/ Andre Dimbiti / Remil Brown
TE: Ryan Bowers / Talin Cooper / Treyvon Taylor
LT - Jakob Belton
LG - Ethan Petaia
C - Matt Barcot
RG - Brandon Pati / Fiti Moe
RT - Fiti Moe / Champ Ulufale
K - Ryder Padilla / Mario De La Torre
DE - Corey Martin / Enzo Tayou / DJ King
DT - Elijah Bradley / Luke To’omalatai / Jordan Berry
LB: Alonso Person / Austin Bressler / Andre Jenkins / Jake Otto / Jagger Mosqueda / Raymond Masoe
CB: Thaddeus Dixon / Dallas Burke / Jason Jones / Trey Edwards / Dillon Kendle / Tobby Apolonio / Simeon Williams / Ricky Morrison
S: Jalen Duncan / Charles O’Neal / Richard Abrego
P: Jerron Lincoln / Rey Sanchez