The Hancock College football team is heading into the 2019 season with several key returners and several key departures.
The Bulldogs are opening their season late this year. The two-time defending Pacific League champions (10-0 in league games since joining prior to the 2017 season) will make their debut at home at 2 p.m. Saturday against Los Angeles Valley College.
Among the returners for the Bulldogs: T.J. Boone, an anchor for a productive 2018 Hancock offensive line; Eddie Battle, a running back whose star rose as the season went along last year; and defensive secondary stalwarts Seth Matthyse and Curt McDonald.
Among the departed: The top two running backs from a 2018 running game that was prolific even by Hancock's lofty standards. Ryheem Skinner, Hancock's top rusher, graduated. Jayden Vargas, Hancock's top rusher in several games the second half of the season, left for perennial powerhouse Ventura College, where has reunited with former St. Joseph teammate, quarterback Dino Maldonado.
For Hancock College coach Kris Dutra and his players, it feels like an eternity since they last stepped on the football field to square off ag…
A 29-28 loss to Ventura in the second game of the campaign was the only blemish on Hancock's 10-1 2018 season.
Issac Bausley, a consistent producer at running back, graduated. However, running back DJ Whitmill returns. Whitmill was a big part of a productive Hancock three-back rotation in 2017. The Kansas City native sat out last year.
Neither of Hancock's 2018 quarterbacks, Thomas Carr and Steven Schouten, who were freshmen then, are on the 2019 roster for veteran Hancock coach Kris Dutra. Schouten suffered a torn ACL during the summer. Freshman Gavin Grondohl, from Doylestown, Pennsylvania, figures to be the starter to open the season.
Pierre Moudourou, a wide receiver who caught two touchdown passes from Carr in the Bulldogs' 38-35 win over San Bernardino Valley College in the American Championship Bowl last year, is playing for Monroe College, a NJCAA Division I school.
Mathew Garcia, a 6-foot-4, 235-pound Pioneer Valley High School graduate, did not play quarterback for Hancock last year, but he is listed as a quarterback this year. Dutra says Garcia is the likely the backup Grondohl. At Pioneer Valley, Garcia was noted for an exceptionally strong arm.
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At press time, other Hancock quarterbacks included Dylan Simons, a 6-2, 205-pound sophomore from Soldotna, Alaska; Sebastian Saiz, a 5-7, 162-pound freshman who graduated from Santa Maria High School, and Trent Garrett, a 6-3, 215-pound freshman from Sonoma.
Jaquez McWilliams, a defensive back who made a big impact for Hancock last year, returns. Another leader in the 2018 secondary, Domanic Chapa, graduated.
The Hancock defense will have to do without two reliable defensive front players from local high schools, Dominic King (St. Joseph graduate) and Connor Epley (Santa Ynez alum). Both of them graduated after productive careers at Hancock.
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Michael McCoy is a freshman on the Hancock football team this year. McCoy graduated from Santa Ynez High School, where he made his biggest mark as a quarterback, and also punted and played defensive back, in 2016, but was in a walking boot at practice this week. McCoy is listed on the Hancock roster as "Athlete," - meaning he can make a mark at multiple positions.
McDonald is also listed as "Athlete" on the Hancock roster. So is Qualik Davis, a 5-10, 170-pound sophomore from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Hector Gil-Garcia's field goal made the difference in Hancock's win in the American Bowl last year. He graduated. However, Cade Englund, one of Hancock's better punters in recent years, returns.
Strong-legged kicker Edgar Zacarias, a Pioneer Valley graduate, is a freshman on the Hancock squad this year.