Defensive Outlook

The Eagles defense has come full circle. In 1992 the defense will return to the reduced fifty, or “Eagle” package. This is the same defense that was run in the 1989-1990 seasons, the most successful defensive years in the Eagle Football history. The defense is based upon being “sound and simple”, which will allow the defenders to play aggressively. After a year as offensive coordinator and a year out of coaching, Matt Rink will return as the defensive coordinator, as he did in the 1989 and 1990 seasons.

Along with Rink, mainstays Jim Hartigan and Jamie Larkin will return for their seventh year on the defensive staff. As always, Hartigan and Larkin will coach the defensive backs and outside linebackers, respectively. Added to the defensive staff are Martin Fouts and Tom Inglima. Fouts comes from Tustin High and he will work with the defensive line. Inglima will coach the defensive backs after a year at Buena Park. Both Fouts and Inglima are great technique-oriented coaches and will be strong additions to the staff.

This year’s defensive line will be starting a group of new faces. The anchor of the line will be senior Robert Craven (6’1”, 255) starting at the five shade. Craven was the Rookie of the Year in 1992 and was a starter on the offensive line all year.  The nose guard will be junior Rik Glover (5’11”, 190) who is a very intense, strong and quick player. Glover should be a menace to opponents in the trenches. Senior Frank Brenes (6’1”, 200) will start at the three shade, and was a part-time starter as an offensive lineman last year. Senior Matt Dunn (6’0”, 190) will be the utility player and will be called upon to spell the three starters. His role will be very important due to the fact that all three starters will be key players on offense as well. Others that will add depth to the line are senior Patrick Strader (5’8”, 200) and juniors Kris Farris (6’7”, 270), Adam Peyrebrune (5’11”, 175) and James Leonard (5’8”, 205).

All of the inside linebackers have one thing in common: no varsity experience. As a group they total one tackle on the Varsity level. For this reason, the two starters will not be solidified until doubledays are complete. After Summer practice senior Matt Younce (5’11”, 180) and sophomore Mike Whelan (5’10”, 175) have a head start, with senior Scott McIntosh (5’11”, 170) right behind them. There is a group of others backing them up and vying for playing time. These include seniors Mike DeFries (6’0”, 190), Denis Herlehy (5’10”, 160), Joe McAneny (5’8”, 170) and junior Matt Lucas (5’11”, 180). Herlehy was the JV Defensive Player of the Year in 1992 and the darkhorse could be sophomore T.J. Henricks (5’11”, 180) who improved drastically over the Summer. The outside linebackers also face the same problem of inexperience, as there are only two returning lettermen in the group. On the drop side, senior Mike Raths (6’2”, 195) seems to be the frontrunner. On the rush side junior Joe Hauke (6’3”, 225), freshman Rueban Vaughan (6’2”, 210) and juniors Matt Ahmer (6’0”, 180) and Collin Best (5’10”, 170) have all shown promise and will battle for the starting job.

With the return of Brad Finneran (6’5”, 190) and Brian Finnern (6’5”, 190), both All-CIF and All-Sea View League performers, the secondary will be very strong. The Finnerans, Division I prospects with two years of Varsity experience, will start at the two safety positions. Brad, who finished last season with 55 tackles and a team leading five interceptions, will play at free safety. He won the Hit Man award the last two seasons. Brian wills start at strong safety. He had 66 tackles last year along with two interceptions. Both will be backed up by a group of young, but solid players. Juniors Ryan Korinke (6’0”, 170 and Brian Garrigan (5’11”, 180) and sophomores Chris Collins (6’1”, 180) and Matt Nickels (6’1”, 160) will be valuable replacements at safety. Any two of them could see plenty of action when the Finnerans need a rest. At the corner position, three seniors will jockey for the starting spots. Derek Yankoff (6’3”, 180 started most of last year but will see limited time due to his duties as the starting quarterback. Louie Warner (5’10”, 170) and Chris Altomare (6’0”, 165) received most of the reps during the Summer which should give them the edge in the fall. Senior Mario Franqui (5’10”, 165) and juniors Brian Griffin (5’10”, 160) and Steve Gribben (5’11”, 165) will provide some depth and could break into the rotation later in the year.