It was a long, thought-filled off-season for Santa Monica College football coach Robert Taylor.
It stung him hard when the Corsairs were bypassed for a bowl game, including one played annually at Corsair Field, despite winning their final five games.
Nontheless, the recovery was impressive following a slow start to the 2004 season.
The new season began Saturday when SMC took a long bus ride to Victorville and lost to Victor Valley, 42-14.
SMC will be home Saturday night (7 p.m.) for a non-conference game against Fullerton.
“We have a young team with a lot of freshmen,’’ said Taylor. “That’s the way it works out sometimes. I’m hoping we’ll grow and be a pretty good team by midseason.
“At Victor Valley we didn’t play with intensity. We’ll work to get better.’’
Quarterback Tom Reulesc from Plano, Texas, completed 14 of 27 passes for 134 yards. His twin brother, Tim, plays tight end for the Corsairs.
Jon Rivera is the Corsairs’ lone returning running back.
Many of the players come from other areas of the country, and a few are local.
One Corsair being recruited by Division 1 schools is 6-foot-6, 280-pound offensive sophomore tackle Aaron Mason from Santa Monica High. Outside linebacker Joe Young, who was with the Corsairs last season after beginning his collegiate career at Texas El Paso, is also from Samohi. Backup quarterback Mitch Smith is a freshman from St. Monica. He was the Mariners’ leader last season.
Taylor is beginning his 22nd season in coaching and 12th at SMC. He expects Citrus to be strong in the conference and also lists West Los Angeles, Harbor and LA Southwest as potentionally outstanding teams.
Citrus opened its season last Friday with a 42-32 loss to El Camino.Harbor was co-champion of the conference last season, but only 5-5 overall and wasn’t selected for a bowl game. Harbor won its opener Saturday, 38-14 over College Of The Desert.