Defensive front will be key as CR football returns

By Ray Hamill — In the tradition of some of the great College of the Redwoods teams of the past, one of the strengths of this year’s squad could be the defensive front.

After previewing the new CR offense on Wednesday, today we’re taking a look at the defensive side of the ball and what we can expect to see in the coming months.

The Corsairs kick off the new season at Merced College on Saturday and head coach Jason White and defensive coordinator Damaro Wheeler have reason to feel excited about the defensive line, in particular.

It all starts with 6-foot, 235-pound tackle Julian Garcia from Clovis, who has “incredible quickness,” according to White.

That should combine well with the physicality of Del Norte’s Sam Schauerman to help anchor the inside.

“He’s such a physical presence inside,” White said of Schauermann (5-11, 270), who was a rare three-time all-league selection in the Big 4.

Jayden Sandusky (6-2, 245) from North Medford is another physical lineman who will play mostly defensive end and also will see some time at tackle.

Tyse Wigham (6-2, 230), from Canyon Springs High in Las Vegas, will also start on the line, while Eureka’s Gary Jimenez (6-2, 200) is also expected to play a big role, along with Steven Hill (6-2, 225), a transfer from Limestone University in South Carolina.

“I feel good about our defense,” White said. “We have a lot of depth.”

Big things are also expected out of a second Del Norte graduate, with Tanner Forker (5-9, 185) set to start at linebacker after an outstanding high school career for the Warriors.

Three other former H-DNL players are also expected to play big roles on defense, including Eureka’s Drew Jensen (5-11, 190), who has “looked good at linebacker,” according to White.

Another former Logger, Maximus Tapulaaia (5-11, 200), will also feature at linebacker, as will Chase “Biscuit” Steubing (6-3, 200), who previously played under White at Eureka High.

Steubing returns to the area after playing his senior year in high school in Washington.

Two other players expected to have a big impact on the defensive side of the ball are Daegan McClary (6-0, 215), out of Battle Mountain High in Nevada, and James Dowdy (5-11, 230), out of Dothan High in Alabama.

Other local players who will feature on the CR defense include Gavyn Albers (DB, Hoopa), Orion Benton (LB, Ferndale), Talon Borden (DB, Hoopa), Lane Branstetter (DB, Ferndale), Bronc Colegrove (DL, Hoopa), Dylan Fales (DL, Eureka), Alberto Iskra (DB, Arcata), Che Jimenez (DN, McKinleyville) and AJ Pedrez (LB, Hoopa).

This year’s team includes players from eight of the nine H-DNL football programs.

On Friday, we’ll take a look at what a new-look Corsairs team that features 77 freshmen and one sophomore can expect in the season opener at Merced, as CR football returns for the first time in three years.

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