Last year was a learning one for Marcus Hughes, who had just taken the helm of the Diamond Bar football program. It’s hard enough to come into a program new. Try coming in when you’re from another part of the country.
So the New York native comes into this season feeling a whole lot more comfortable.
Last year the Brahmas were also hit with some key injuries late in the season, many of those to skill position players.
“We’re light years ahead of where we were last year,” Hughes says. “Just having a whole off-season has been huge. “The learning curve when you’re from the outside is much steeper than people think.”
Much of the cast that contributed to last year’s 3-7 showing has graduated so this will be a young Brahma squad.
Hughes thinks the strength of this team will be in the offensive line which is led by senior David Omana, a three-year starter who is drawing some looks from smaller Division I colleges. Junior Bryan Kwon has moved from guard to center and will also be counted on heavily.
Junior Grant Mestas is the newcomer at quarterback. He directed the junior varsity team a year ago but did get some playing time on varsity late last season when starter Tyler Peterson was injured.
The entire backfield will be new. Hughes is looking at senior Dimaggio Rico, used primarily as a cornerback and return specialist, to shoulder much of the load.
The wide receiving core is also unproven but Hughes likes the potential. Top players there are sophomore Koby Duru, who is up from the freshman team, and junior J.C. Holmes, up from the junior varsity.
Top athletes on defense should include senior linebacker Connor Donohue, senior lineman Blake Goodman, who has made a transition from fullback, senior defensive end Andrew Gomez and defensive back Christian Kim.
A couple of sophomores are in pivotal positions on defense with Hughes singling out sophomores Ryan Vargas and Wayne Schuster who will be in the linebacking spots with Schuster a converted quarterback.
Hughes has taken over offensive coordinator duties and is changing up the offense. He will be looking to emphasize the run a bit more.
“Last year I took what I had been used to and tried to combine that with what they were used to here and it never really worked,” he said. “We as a coaching staff down and put thought into what was the best fit for our personnel.”
There is also a change defense as J.D. Thompson and Eddie Hernandez will coordinate that side of the ball. Hernandez was on staff last year as a line coach while Thompson is a new addition.
The Brahmas open the season on Friday against Duarte, which is coming off a 2-8 showing in 2014.