PLEASANT HILL -- The Diablo Valley College football team has a theme this season: Details matter.
The Vikings, who beat Laney 30-27 in the inaugural East Bay Bowl, have high expectations this season, but there's also a gnawing sense that they let too many close ones get away in 2012.
In fact, Vikings coach Mike Darr says each of his team's four losses came down to one play each time.
"We've been stressing all the little details," Darr said. "Every play matters and every technique matters. ... We expect to do great things this year. We always do, but this group has had a very intense focus, day in and day out."
The Vikings (7-4 last year) began the 2013 on a sour note, however, losing to state runner-up City College of San Francisco 41-9 at home on Sept. 6. The vaunted Rams were one of DVC's gut-wrenching defeats of 2012.
The Vikings have a typically attack-minded defense, led by Ygnacio Valley High graduate/lineman Tui Talia, a 6-foot-5, 275-pound Oregon commit with a "play on Sunday body," Darr said.
Talia, who played linebacker in high school, is an impressive athlete, powerful enough to dominate on the inside and agile enough to do damage from the outside. Jalen Rosales (Berkeley), who has returned from Army, is another quality lineman who can also play on offense.
"Our defensive line, once again, is one of the strong points," Darr said. "Tui is in the same mold of guys that we've over the past few years in terms of motor and effort. ... He's 6-foot-5, 275 pounds and just goes."
The Vikings are known for producing marquee linemen. Last year's team boasted Kyle Kragen (Cal) and the 2011 unit featured Morgan Breslin (USC).
The secondary will have a Johnson and Johnson mojo. Derrick Johnson of Sacramento and Robert Johnson of Berkeley give the Vikings the blessing having two first-rate safeties. Darr raves of his secondary's depth and knowledge of the system.
"This is probably the most athletic secondary I've had in my time here," Darr said. "We've got a couple young guys with a good mix of veterans. The thing that is pretty special about this group is their maturity and their ability to hold each other accountable."
The offense is talented but unproven. The Vikings lost a lot of quality players to graduation, including quarterback Quinn Kaehler, who is at San Diego State.
They will have their usual array of quality receivers, and strong-armed Niko Fortino, a backup last season, steps in at quarterback. Joe Te'o (De La Salle) and Marquis Waters (Las Lomas) are key running backs. Former Monte Vista standouts Dan Scritchfield, who had 99 receptions for the Mustangs in 2011, and Shane Ertz bolster the receiving unit.
Darr said the Vikings have a great combination of athletes, ball-catchers and route runners at wideout.
The Vikings finished second in the Mid-Emprire Conference last season and look to do one better this time.
Sept. 6 CCSF L, 41-9
Sept. 14 at Santa Rosa 7 p.m.
Sept. 20 SAN MATEO 7 p.m.
Sept. 28 at Chabot 7 p.m.
Oct. 4 MERCED 7 p.m.
Oct. 11 MONTEREY 7 p.m.
Oct. 19 at Reedley 7 p.m.
Nov. 2 at Siskiyous * 1 p.m.
Nov. 9 at Sacramento* 1 p.m.
Nov. 15 FEATHER RIVER* 7 p.m.