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Football Long Beach City College

Football Preview: LBCC Vikings

The562’s coverage of Vikings athletics is sponsored in part by Long Beach City College.

Last year was death by a thousand papercuts for the LBCC football program, as the Vikings lost four games by a touchdown or less. This year, the Vikings have a loaded roster as always, but head coach Brett Peabody said the focus is on re-building his team’s culture and finishing games.

“We can beat anyone on the schedule, and we can lose any game, too,” he said. “We learned that well last year. Those losses hurt. Are we going to be a different team this year, or the same type of average team that does enough to get some good wins but loses close games that matter? We have to prove that on the field. I want to see us get it done.”

Leading the way will be a re-figured coaching staff, with Peabody taking over as offensive coordinator and playcaller following the departure of longtime OC Sean Flynn. The Vikings will have new signal-callers on the defensive side as well with Marquise Cooper taking over DC duties.

Fans can expect a similar brand of exciting offensive ball with perhaps a bit more of an edge on defense, as well as some flexibility in what the Vikings are lining up in defensively. More important than Xs and Os or personnel, however, is attitude.

“We have to be more disciplined on defense and less selfish,” said Peabody. “No more dumb late penalties that cost us games.”

Offensively there will be plenty of returning familiar faces, including all-conference QB Will Madonna as well as QB Queanu Cambell-Caldwell, who was MVP of the Vikings’ bowl game last year. They’ll be joined by Jett Peddy, who’s had a great Summer throwing the ball, and recent Lakewood alum Brayden Downen.

At running back are a pair of Moore League products with Lakewood alum Kaleb Foster and Poly product Jaden Bridges and Dominguez alum Kanye Hunter, among others. “Running back should be a position of strength for us this year,” said Peabody. 

The Vikings are also loaded at tight end with Tre Turner out of Compton Centennial and Oscar Willis, a Pasadena CC transfer who carries D1 offers. Riley Weinstein out of Costa Mesa high is 6-8, 225 and will be a converted TE matchup nightmare.

Kyle Miller and Remil Brown are back at receiver with plenty of other options including Jade Caldwell and Elijah Lewis. The Vikings also have a bounceback from San Jose State that’s turned heads in Cieonte Davis, as well as several good incoming freshmen.

The offensive line was strong but not deep, making health there a major concern. Ethan Pataia, Champ Ulufale, Nick Vilacona, Elijah Thomas, and Lance Lee are the likely starters.

Pataia says he’s seen major growth from last year to this year in terms of team-building.

“We’ve definitely built that team chemistry more than we had the past few years, it’s more like camaraderie now, like we’re actually brothers,” he said. “It was just sweat and blood in the weight room, that really brought us closer together.”

On defense, the Vikings will feature Caleb Williams, RJ Alexander and Zef Misa at DE and a stud in Luke Tumalatai at defensive tackle alongside Enzo Taiou. The linebackers will be the strength of the defense led by Jamarlo Campbell from Arizona and Austin Brussler, as well as Jalen “Monster” Johnson.

In the defensive backfield, Javion Curry transferred in from Orange Coast and Kam Blanton is a bounceback Poly alum who is back home from UNLV. The safeties will see Hagen Foreman back as a returning all-conference player as well as Travis “Mookie” Davis from Poly, Andre Jenkins, and others. 

The Vikings will have plenty of chances to showcase their new chemistry early with a season opener against nationally-ranked Riverside on Sep. 2, followed by a road trip to always-tough Bakersfield. We’ll have the Vikings’ video preview and projected starters closer to their season opener next month.

Mike Guardabascio
An LBC native, Mike Guardabascio has been covering Long Beach sports professionally for 13 years, with his work published in dozens of Southern California magazines and newspapers. He's won numerous awards for his writing as well as the CIF Southern Section’s Champion For Character Award, and is the author of three books about Long Beach history.