Citrus College has a lot of local weapons this season, which resembles an all-star alumni game. Remember Covina quarterback Mike McDonough, the Tribune’s two-time player of the year, he’s now an Owl. They have a backfield that includes West Covina’s Isaac Tucker, Charter Oak’s Kanaan Snowden, Wilson’s Tim Gilmore and Rowland’s Brandon Stansell. Will this be good enough to challenge Mt. SAC. Read on …
Above: Perhaps nobody left it on the field as much as McDonough. Imagine if his teams were competing in the Mid-Valley Division today? Covina might have won back-to-back titles.
By Steve Ramirez
There is a lot of excitement for the Citrus College football team this season.
The Owls have a new coach – former defensive coordinator Ron Ponciano – and a solid recruiting class combined with some good returning players is creating some optimism for Citrus, which is playing in the highly-competitive National Division Central Conference for the second consecutive season. “We just want to compete,” said Ponciano, who has replaced Kevin Emerson. “Last year, we just lost our energy, desire. Our goal this year is to just go out and compete.”
The Owls have the personnel to climb the ladder in the Central Conference, which last year produced a state finalist and two teams that advanced to the quarterfinals.
The upgrade starts at quarterback, where Byron Ingram has been brought in to run the offense. Ingram is a former Georgia state prep star. He spent one year at Georgia Tech after throwing for 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns during his last two seasons in high school.
“He’s going to be our quarterback,” Ponciano said. “He’s 6-foot-6 and has all the tools.”
Also on the roster at quarterback is former area player of the year Mike McDonough, who will take a reserve role this season.
The Owls also have surrounded Ingram with quality options, including a backfield that is expected to feature former area standouts Isaac Tucker of West Covina, Tim Gilmore of Wilson, Kanaan Snowden of Charter Oak and Brandon Stansell of Rowland.
Tucker enjoyed a solid freshman season for the Owls, rushing for 400 yards and a TD.
Stansell and Gilmore ranked among the leaders in the area last season, while Snowden helped Charter Oak to the divisional semifinals two years ago.
“We’ve got a good, deep mix at the skilled positions,” Ponciano said. “We did a good job recruiting and I’m excited to see these guys work together.”
The receiving unit looks good with the return of Tyra Waits and Damon Baca, of Ayala. Waits had 35 receptions for 386 yards last season. Baca had 14 for 119. Tucker, who proved to be quite effective out of the backfield at West Covina and last season at Citrus, is also a good option.
The offensive line will be led by sophomore Eric Waltz.
“We finally got some size,” Ponciano said. “That’s going to be a key for us. We’re 300 across. We’ve got a good group.”
The defense will be led by all-conference player and former San Dimas standout Bronze Withem at linebacker. Withem had 90 tackles to lead the team last season. He also had two sacks.
Citrus will also look to lineman Jesse Kirkland, a sophomore out of Chino Hills.
The challenge for the Owls again comes from the Central Conference, which will include three teams ranked among the state top 25 to begin the season.
Local rival Mt. San Antonio, which has advanced to the state finals the past two seasons, is ranked No. 2 in the country and in the state; El Camino is No. 3 in the state and Cerritos is No. 14.
“Like I said, we just want to go out there and compete,” said Ponciano, whose team opens the season with a home game against Santa Ana on Sept. 5. “We’re trying to get better, and I think you will see improvement this year.”
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