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OCC Football Preview: Losses diminish Pirates

OCC without several key would-be returners, most notably All-American running back Betts and leading tackler Jones.

August 23, 2012|By Barry Faulkner
  • Domenic Betts rushed for a state-best 1,772 yards, an Orange Coast single-season record in 2011 as a freshman, but he is ineligible this season.
Domenic Betts rushed for a state-best 1,772 yards, an… (KEVIN CHANG, Daily…)

Orange Coast College football coach Mike Taylor has had enough trouble navigating the annual mine field known as his schedule. In recent years, however, he has been increasingly plagued by the pitfalls, mostly academics, that have posed too great an opposition for his would-be returning players.

The recent off-season proved perilous, indeed, as Taylor lost 2011 All-American running back Domenic Betts, outside linebacker Aaron Jones, who led the team in tackles as a freshman, and a handful of other 2011 contributors to obstacles having nothing to do with an on-field opponent.

"It's unfortunate, but that's what happens at this level," said Taylor, who in his previous 13 seasons has posted just two winning records, the last coming in 2006.

Betts set a school single-season record and led the state with 1,772 rushing yards, while also producing 21 of the Pirates' 33 touchdowns in 2011. But even with Betts, whose speed and determination helped him flourish behind a veteran offensive line and helped OCC lead the state in rushing offense and finish No. 1 in the 37-school Southern California Football Assn. with 27 rushing TDs, OCC finished a forgettable 4-6, 2-3 in the East Conference.

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In addition to Betts and Jones, whose 86 tackles were one more than returning linebacker Nick Cody, OCC will be without would-be sophomores Bronson Arguello (a defensive tackle), Matt Carlyle (an Estancia High product and receiver whose 26 catches led the team), and Colton Christensen (who was by far the team's best defensive player until suffering a season-ending knee injury at midseason).

Arguello and Betts were casualties of academics, Taylor said, while Jones and Carlyle had personal issues that led to their leaving the team. Christensen has transferred to Saddleback College, Taylor said.

In all, 65 of 85 would-be returners are no longer on the roster, leaving Taylor with a virtual clean slate as the team shifts to the Southern Conference that also includes Saddleback, Santa Ana, Fullerton, Golden West, Grossmont and Palomar.

Also new is offensive coordinator Rudy Caamano and linebackers coach Matt Grootegoed.

Caamano, who will oversee the Pirates' spread offense, is a former college quarterback who threw for 1,743 yards and 13 touchdowns in two seasons at New Mexico. His college career also includes stops at Mt. San Antonio Community College and Iowa State.

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