Last year the Diamond Ranch football team settled for a 5-5 record, with a 2-3 Hacienda League mark that was only good enough for fourth place.
The Panthers are on their third coach in as many years and are looking to re-establish themselves under newcomer Jimmy Welker.
The first year is always one of transition. Welker didn’t want to divulge what exact offenses and defenses his team will be running but deemed his schemes a “complete overhaul.”
He won’t judge his team by what happens in the win-loss column.
“It will be a matter of are we doing what we have been coached to do,” he said. “Flat out execution. If we do that, then the wins and losses will hopefully take care of themselves.”
There are two players battling for the starting quarterback slot – seniors Ethan Cota and Joe Sebastian with Sebastian, transferring from Garey and Cota one of three players that saw action in that position last year.
Among the top players on the squad will be senior running back-corner Davion Gaisie who rushed for 1,112 yards and 10 touchdowns as a junior.
Welker also expects a good showing from both fronts with Harley and Christian Becerra the top performers there.
Several other players could be keys on both sides of the ball. That group includes senior wide receiver-defensive back Kalean Williams and senior running back-linebacker Dashawn Ellis.
The Panthers swing into action on Aug. 28 with a home game against South Hills. They open league play on Oct. 9 against West Covina.
Welker expects tough competition in the league with Los Altos the reigning Central Division runner-up. Walnut and Chino had coaching changes in the off-season as well, which makes for an even more intriguing season.
Welker comes to the Inland Valley after serving as defensive line coach for the last two years at Redondo Union High School.
He also has previously served as outside linebacker coach and junior varsity defensive coordinator at Notre Dame High School as well as wide receiver coach for the United States Coast Guard Academy.
Welker was a four-sport athlete at Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, excelling in football, basketball, baseball and track. He went on to play quarterback at Louisiana State. LSU went 43-9 during his time there, highlighted by a national championship in 2007.