PLEASANT HILL -- The Diablo Valley College football team sent 27 players on to scholarships at four-year schools in the offseason, which is both good and bad news for head coach Mike Darr.
On one hand, Darr takes great pride in his program's ability to prepare players athletically and academically for the next level of football.
But on the flip side, sending on so many players has left some big holes to fill for a program coming off of two straight bowl game appearances.
Though the Vikings lost the state's Region II defensive player of the year (Morgan Breslin, now at USC) and two other all-state defensive players, Darr says he has a good nucleus returning. He's just not sure just what to expect with so many new faces on both sides of the ball.
"As much as they understand what we're doing with the schemes and are fast and physical, they're still not guys who have made those plays yet," Darr said.
Quinn Kaehler (Cal High) is back at quarterback after starting half of DVC's games last year. Andre Lewis, who has already committed to Utah, and Foothill graduate Cameron Rowland will lead a solid group of receivers.
Darr has several players returning who have Division I offers. That list includes offensive lineman De'Ondre Westley (Deer Valley), cornerback Turon Walker and linebacker Siuea Vaesau (Pinole Valley).
The roster is comprised mostly of Contra Costa County players, including Campolindo graduate Evan Peter (defensive
Coaches expect DVC to remain solid. In the preseason California Community College Football Coaches Association State Poll, the Vikings ranked No. 16 in the state and No. 9 in Northern California.
The Vikings also turned some heads in their opener. DVC began the season Sept. 1 against City College of San Francisco, the defending state champion, and nearly pulled off the upset.
Kaehler threw for 459 yards and four touchdowns in the 48-41 overtime loss.
The Vikings' preseason also includes traditionally strong programs Santa Rosa Junior College and College of San Mateo as well as Chabot, Monterey and Reedly. The conference schedule will look a little different with realignment moving the Vikings from the NorCal to the Mid-Empire Conference this year, but Darr expects the competition level to remain about the same.
"If we can stay healthy, it will definitely be a great benefit," Darr said of the tough preseason. "It's a murderer's row until we get to the bye week. Just about every team has size, speed and out-of-state athletes that give you different challenges."
9/1 At San Francisco L, 48-41, OT
9/7 SANTA ROSA 7 p.m.
9/15 At San Mateo 1 p.m.
9/21 CHABOT 7 p.m.
9/29 At Merced 1 p.m.
10/6 At Monterey 6 p.m.
10/12 REEDLEY 7 p.m.
10/26 SISKIYOUS 7 p.m.
11/2 SACRAMENTO 7 p.m.
11/10 At Feather River 3 p.m.