PLEASANT HILL -- Not only does the Diablo Valley College football team have a typically strong defense, but the Vikings have something new this year: Depth at every position.
"This is probably the deepest team we've had," Vikings coach Mike Darr said. "We've got great competition at just about every position, which always leads to better performance."
Team depth will need to come in handy with the Vikings now in the powerful Bay 6 Conference of a reconfigured state system. The Big 6 also features City College of San Francisco, College of San Mateo, Foothill, Santa Rosa and De Anza. In the 2014 preseason Northern California rankings, San Mateo is second, CCSF is third and Santa Rosa is 10th. DVC, which finished last season with a 5-6 record, is 14th, De Anza was 18th and Foothill is 19th.
Among the deepest units for the Vikings is the secondary, which boasts Antoine Albert of Oakland Tech. Albert has received more than 20 scholarship offers, Darr said, and is planning a recruiting trip to Tennessee in October.
"He's physical. He's long. We even played him as a defensive end one game," Darr said of Albert. "He's one of the best corners in the country. He's just a freak athlete. Big hitter. Schools love him as a safety. Schools love him as a corner."
DVC lost defensive lineman Gabe Newman, who signed with Fresno State in June after making 15 tackles and 2.5 sacks last season, but haven't missed a beat.
Leading the way is defensive end DJ Moffitt, a transfer from UNLV out of De La Salle, nose guard Xavier Banks from Laney and De La Salle, and Wyatt Vinzi, whose twin brother plays for UCLA and is a transfer from Connecticut.
The Vikings have shown major improvement at linebacker. Former rugby player Fahu Anitoni, who is 6-foot-2 and 265 pounds, bolsters the group, along with the super-athletic Fe'ao Vunipola out of Pittsburg and Montana State, and returner Marvin Samaile.
Another playmaker, defensive back Akil Bordelon of Berkeley ran two punts back for touchdowns last year.
The Vikings have made big strides on the offensive line, a unit decimated by injuries last year when four of the five starters were lost by week three.
But the current bunch is rock solid. Tackle Jude Hockel of Northgate is a "big, nasty grinder that gets after it," Darr said.
Versatile center Jalen Rosales of Berkeley, who switched from the defensive line last year, and Mahe Fafita of California, who is 6-foot-6 and 305 pounds, are key guys up front, along with Derrick Stom of Las Lomas, a natural blocker who has returned from the United States Military Academy at West Point.
"It's just a group of guys that can really get after you," Darr said of the offensive line.
Returning quarterback Adam Wood is a good athlete and a tough guy. He played quarterback and some defensive end at Las Lomas High, were he also starred in basketball. Adam Nesheim, a transfer who started at Los Medanos last year, is the backup quarterback.
The Vikings have a nice variety of running backs, including speedy returner Javis Blalock, a former star at Rio Vista High, Jake Villa of Las Lomas and 295-pound returning fullback Ben Taufoou, who was also a rugby standout.
Efrain Montalvo, the team's best receiver last year, is back, but the top wideout is newcomer Leondre Washington, of St. Louis, Mo., a "phenomenal athlete," Darr said. Former California High star CJ Cornwell and Marcus Armstrong of Justin Siena-Napa are also looking good at receiver.
The Vikings take great pride in their defense, which has been ranked No. 1 in the state for two of the past three years. Darr says he "reloaded" this year with the deepest and most talented group he's had, including eight quality defensive linemen.
Knowing the toughness of the conference, Darr said a big key this season will be staying healthy.
Sept. 5 FEA. RIVER 5 p.m.
Sept. 13 at Chabot 6 p.m.
Sept. 19 MODESTO 7 p.m.
Sept. 27 at Siskiyous 1 p.m.
Oct. 3 SIERRA 7 p.m.
Oct. 18 at DeAnza* 1 p.m.
Oct. 25 at Foothill* 1 p.m.
Oct. 31 SAN FRAN* 7 p.m.
Nov. 8 at San Mateo* 1 p.m.
Nov. 14 SANTA ROSA* 7 p.m.
*Bay 6 game