Pirate football hopeful for a fresh start

Members of the Orange Coast College football team run on to the field prior to a game last season at Dick Tucker Field at LeBard Stadium. The Pirates look to improve after a 1-9 season last fall.

The Orange Coast College football program opens its season Saturday at Ventura College — with a focus on not only winning on the field, but also succeeding in the classroom.

Following last years (1-9) season the Pirates are looking to rebound after losing many starters, as well as having to fill in multiple vacant coaching spots.

Week 1 will be an important stepping stone as the Pirates prepare to take on Ventura in the opening week of the season for the second straight year.

Last season, Coast kept Ventura at bay before ultimately losing 24-20. Ventura College then went on to take second place in the State Championship last season.

“There is still a lot to figure out as a team, and there is not game film on any opponents yet, and that can make the recipe for an upset,” Orange Coast College Athletic Director Jason Kehler said in an email.

Every team in every sport is on the hunt for their first victory to open a season, and Week 1 becomes the time to showcase how much a team is willing to put in.

Expect the team to come out running, and put in a performance that will dictate the pace for the rest of the season.

The Pirates enter the season with Joel “Bubba” Gonzalez officially beginning his tenure as head coach following an interim season last year.

Gonzalez was named head coach on April 18.

Taking care of football duties on the field is not the sole responsibility for student athletes.

Performing in the classrooms is a top priority and sport always comes second.

“Our academic goals are to have a team GPA of 2.7 or higher,” Gonzalez said through email. “We feel that if we can help our student-athletes learn how to do the little things the right way the wins will take care of themselves.”

Running a successful program does not just stem from the amount of W’s in the win column.

There is much more to it than that — as teams are only as strong as the support that bonds them together.

“Very few have any idea what it takes to run a successful program in our conference so having the campus come out and support the team and staff will be very important for the team’s success.” Dean of Kinesiology and Athletics Michael Sutliff said in an email.

The Orange Coast Pirates open the season Saturday in Ventura and return home to LeBard Stadium Sept. 14 against East Los Angeles College at 6 p.m.

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