The Chabot football team will have some familiar faces on the sidelines as it revs up for a new season under second-year head coach Eric Fanene.
Danny Calcagno, a six-time conference coach of the Year, has returned as the Offensive Coordinator. Calcagno was the Chabot head coach for 13 years before stepping down after the 2016 season. The former Chabot QB guided Chabot to conferences titles in 2004, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015.
Another former Gladiators assistant is back on staff as Athletic Director Jeff Drouin returns as the Offensive Line coach.
After a 2-8 record in his first season at the helm, Fanene is expecting a rebound season, knowing things can turn around quickly with the right mix of players.
"We've had a great offseason and showed some tremendous promise in our scrimmage last week against Fresno City College," Fanene said. "The guys are really hungry to get this season started on a positive note."
After competing in the National-Valley Conference, Chabot was moved to the Bay 6 Conference, always one of the tougher and more competitive conferences in the state that includes local rivals Laney, City College of San Francisco, College of San Mateo and Diablo Valley, along with Santa Rosa.
"Being back in a conference with a lot of the locals is tremendous," Fanene added. "It's really going to cut down on the travel that we experienced in the past in conference. This conference you have to come out and play your 'A game' every week."
The Gladiators open the season against Shasta Saturday in nonconference action. Kickoff is 6 p.m. at Gladiator Stadium.
LOOK AT THE SQUAD: Offensively the Gladiators have some key pieces back.
De'Juan Johnson returns as the Chabot leading receiver and playmaker. He 17 receptions for 245 yards in 2017.
Quarterback Vondell Pilcher, who saw time last season stepping in for injured starter Johnny O'Brien, is one of three guys vying to be the starter. Freshman Chayce Akaka, a three-sport star in the Maui (Hawaii) Interscholastic League with Baldwin High in 2017-18, and Devontae Williams are also in the mix.
Sophomore running back Osaru Ona looks to be the starter after getting a handful of carries in 2017.
On the defensive side, defensive coordinator Jerome Manos, an athletic counselor at Chabot, has no shortage of playmakers.
Returning sophomore starter Hufangahau Moala is back to anchor the defensive line after earning All-conference honors a year ago. Returner Lando Grey is back as well, and Fanene couldn't be more excited about the potential on the line.
"Both Moala and Grey have shown incredible explosiveness and we're expecting great things out of the unit."
Returners Ethan Owens and Devan Vaenuku will help lead an experienced linebacking core.
This season will be an exciting one under Fanene's guidance.
"This is this first year with the guys I recruited, so it will be good to see how far they've come along,", Fanene said. "It's very important to get the season off on the right foot."
TOUGH SLEDDING: The Preseason JC Athletic Bureau state coaches' poll reveals the strength of the Bay 6: CSM is ranked No. 2 behind only two-time defending state champion Fullerton. Laney is No. 6, CCSF No. 9, and DVC No. 20.
By Tony Gonsalez,
Chabot Sports Information