Diablo Valley College football coach Mike Darr had a good feeling about his squad before its first practice on Thursday.
The players had a strong spring and summer. Now they're poised to rise in the fall.
"We haven't had a better group in terms of their dedication, their work in the weight room, following through with things they're supposed to follow through with," Darr said. "It's a great 'we' group; there's not a lot of 'I' guys."
The team, which will don the pads for the first time on Saturday, has added quarterback Drew Anderson, a 2014 Miramonte High graduate who transferred from San Diego State after redshirting. He passed for 4,074 yards and 47 touchdowns as a senior, and will reunite with his friend and former teammate Dominic Paoletti this season. Paoletti, who grayshirted at DVC last season, had 1,304 receiving yards as a Miramonte senior. "It's been great here so far," Anderson said. "I really like the teammates and the coaches, and I feel like we've got a lot of good players, so I think it's going to be a good year, for sure." Anderson made quite an impression on his new teammates during the summer. "It's like watching magic. It's really good to see," returning all-conference wideout Marcus Armstrong-Brown said of Anderson. "He's got a really strong arm, and I'm excited to see what the season has." The day after Anderson stepped in, Darr had DBs stepping in his office, saying, "Coach, who's that quarterback?" Darr recalled with a laugh. "He was upset with himself if he missed by an inch. Like in that 'American Sniper' movie. Aim small, miss small. That stuff. That's the kind of arm that he has, and the kind of standard he holds himself to. Our guys saw that right away. Guys thought they had guys covered, and then the ball zipped right by their ear."
In a transitional level of sports, DVC still manages to maintain a homespun feel as players advance toward individual and team goals. "We're mostly local guys," Darr said. "We get them pretty much year round, so we're pretty good at building that team feel, as opposed to some of the JCs that are bringing guys in from everywhere. "But this group just seems to have that special connection," Darr continued. "I'm hoping it turns into wins. They've got to execute."
The Vikings finished 7-4 last season, dropping a heartbreaker to Sacramento City 41-35 in overtime in the East Bay Bowl. They have 95 players out this season, with strong areas at defensive back and on the defensive line.