Early start for the De Anza College football team: Dons back to practice


Matthew Fernandez

Top: Members of the De Anza College football team run a drill in which they practice their offense and defense on running plays at a spring practice on May 18. In the spring sessions the Dons focused on weight lifting and film study, as well as two hours of on the field practice three days a week. Only returning players are participating in the spring practice. The incoming freshmen will begin in July. When the incoming players join the practices, the coaches will start teaching from the beginning, said assistant coach and offensive coordinator Burt Codera.

For the De Anza College football team, off season is not a synonym for vacation. Instead, the team got back to work this spring with practice sessions that include film study, time in the weight room and football drills on the field.
These spring sessions are not new for the Dons this year, but the practices are important as they look to bounce back from a tough 2016 season.
“It’s a big part,” said quarterback Eduardo Andrade. “It’s the beginning to everything. Start installing our offense, defense, conditioning is a big part of it too. We got to stay up on everything and this is just the beginning of the whole thing.”
The team is using the extra practice time to improve across the board.
“We’re going to try to do the best we can, perfect all of out jobs on the field at each position, and just execute them and hopefully it carries over to next fall and into the season,” said running back Anthony Corleone.
Outside linebacker Alex Tchangam said he believes that the team’s effort in the pre-season workouts will help in the upcoming season.
“I think we’re going to play pretty good as a team because of all of the work we put in right now,” Tchangam said.

The Dons coaches are looking for returning players to step up and take over leadership roles, especially late in games.
The Dons began last season with a victory in their home opener against Feather River College, but then went on to lose all of their remaining games, including all five conference games. The Dons finished the season 1–9.
The record, however, does not tell the full story of the Dons’ potential. In four of the losses, the team was within a single possession of winning or tying the game.
“Last year we were one and nine, but we were ahead in so many games in the fourth quarter,” said head coach Tony Santos. “I think part of the reason we lost those games last year was lack of leadership.
“This year all the coaches and the players are stepping up to embrace that, kind of change the culture, and they seem to be accepting that very well.”
In addition to looking for leaders to step up, the coaches are making sure that the team has the mental and physical energy to perform at a high level at the end of games.
“We’ve really increased our conditioning program this year,” Santos said. “The other part of it is maturity. Football’s a very difficult game to play at that high level for so long.
One major difference between college level football and high school football is the length of the quarters. Most high school games have 12-minute quarters, but in college the quarters are 15 minutes. This means that incoming freshmen are essentially playing a whole quarter longer than they’re used to.
“That additional 12 minutes is critical in terms of conditioning and strength,” he said.

The 2017 season will be Santos’ second as the head coach. Former head coach Dan Atencio retired at the end of the 2015 season.
Although Santos has coached for the Dons as an assistant for 10 years before being promoted to head coach, his promotion does not mean the team will be identical to Atencio’s team.
“I do things the way I do things,” Santos said. “Not the way the previous coach did them.”
“This is my 11th season at De Anza, so its not like I just kind of came off the turnip truck,” he said. “My predecessor was more set in his ways, I guess. He was a 70-year-old coach whereas I came in and having experienced the way he did it, I’m always thinking; well I would do it this way.
“So, last year was that year where I did things my way and I think we were sucessful from that stand point.”

“I think that De Anza is one of the best junior colleges in the United States,” Santos said. “What I would like to see is more support from the school aspect of student participation.
He said the team needs to a better job of marketing their product to the De Anza community if the team wants to increase its attendance.
Said Santos: “I would like to see more of a student presence at the games.”