AZUSA, Calif. -- Fresh off the program’s seventh NAIA playoff appearance, the Azusa Pacific football team opened its annual spring workout program this week, a 4-week stretch that includes 15 practices and back-to-back Saturday scrimmages on March 5 and March 12.
The scrimmage-style Saturday workouts will be open to visiting high school coaches, along with Azusa Pacific football alumni, and they will take place on the Cougars’ West Campus practice field located at the Cougar Soccer Complex.
“As always, the goal of our spring practices are to evaluate talent, advance our players’ understanding of our schemes, and to experience growth in individual techniques,” head coach Victor Santa Cruz said. “It was rewarding to return to the playoffs, but we’re at the bottom of the hill again for the upcoming season, and this time of the year is all about growth as individuals and as a group.”
The Cougars will return a number of impact players, led by a senior class that includes NAIA Independent Offensive Player of the Year John van den Raadt along with a pair of All-Independent first team selections in tackle Joe Bolognesi and defensive end Jake Jones. Other senior leaders include wide receiver Matt Davis, who averaged a team-high 16.1 yards per catch while limited to 6 games in 2010, plus defensive back Paul Royster, who tied for the team lead in interceptions with 2 and helped the Cougar defense rank second in the NAIA in pass defense (132.1 average).
“The senior leadership is evident in the way this group is bringing energy and a strong work ethic into their workouts,” Santa Cruz said. “They’re a hungry group that’s ready to get back out there and compete, and I am excited about the next stage of our evolution as a team.”
Azusa Pacific’s 2011 schedule features 7 games within Southern California, 6 of them at home, beginning with the Sept. 3 season opener against the University of San Diego.