“We’ve been communicating really well, we all hang together,” said Steele, who leads the team in solo tackles (eight) and also has one tackle for loss, 1.5 sacks and an interception. “The linebacker corps is real tight. We’ve put our trust in each other.” LBCC takes a 2-0 record into Saturday’s Mission Conference crossover game against Saddleback (1-1). The Vikings have topped Ventura (62-17) and Moorpark (39-14) but face their toughest opponent so far in the Gauchos. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe top 10 theme park moments of 2019 “I don’t feel like we’ve played two real good offenses the first two weeks,” said LBCC defensive coordinator Mike Maloney. “Sometimes stats can be misleading … but we have been very dominant vs. the run.” Last season, Saddleback thumped Long Beach 48-10 in the regular season and 41-25 in the Southern California semifinals. Steele is ready for that trend to change. “I’m looking for some revenge because they knocked us out of the playoffs,” the 19-year-old said. “We’re more ready now. The coaches have prepared us a little more.” According to Steele and Maloney, the success of the defense begins up front, where sophomores Josh Tauanuu, Fale Westbrook and Henry Filo control the line of scrimmage. “They’re really fast off the ball,” said Steele. “They’re (who) set things up.” Steele, who plays on the weak side in the base defense and in the middle in the nickel package, is joined at linebacker by sophomores Romelle Terry and Willie Davis. Sophomore Daniel Hemphill is a returning starter at cornerback and Damion Porter, Eddie Patterson and Keawe Auelua-Block all sophomores handle the safety responsibilities. Steele calls Porter a Lakewood High graduate “a real hard hitter.” Steele followed his older brother Markus to LBCC from Cleveland, Ohio. Markus was a star for the Vikings the 1998 Mission Conference North Defensive Player of the Year before moving on to USC and four years with the Dallas Cowboys. “I heard a lot of great things about Long Beach and the Mission Conference (from Markus),” Steele said. “It’s the premier conference to go to.” Having a brother in the NFL has been great motivation for Steele, but also comes with its own set of issues. “People always put you in his footsteps,” said Steele, seven years younger than Markus. “They can’t mention your name without mentioning his, too.” Despite being three time zones from his family, Steele said he feels right at home in Long Beach. “So far, my experience out here has been great,” said Steele, who enjoys working out and playing video games during his down time. “When I first came here, everybody showed me a lot of love. When my brother came out here, he got real homesick. But I haven’t been homesick yet. Actually, when I go home I can’t wait to get back out here. I love the West Coast.” At 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, Steele could be considered undersized for a Division I linebacker, but he’s being heavily recruited by both Pac-10 and SEC teams. “He may be a little undersized but a lot of teams are looking for his kind of speed (4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash) at linebacker,” said Maloney. “He’s definitely a D-I guy.” As an NCAA qualifier out of high school, Steele won’t have to graduate from LBCC before transferring to a Division I school, where he plans on studying business. He has thought about returning to the Midwest to continue his college career but said schools such as Ohio State and Michigan don’t heavily recruit JC players. That could mean he stays on this side of the country, which he doesn’t mind a bit. “I would love to stay on the West Coast, the beautiful weather,” he said. Maloney said the Vikings have a motto on defense “Play fast, play smart’ and the meaning hasn’t been lost on Steele. “It means run to the ball on every play,” he said. “Anything can happen. If we all run to the ball, we can’t be beat.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! First down … a rush for a short gain. Second-and-9 … the quarterback throws incomplete under heavy pressure. Third-and-9 … the quarterback, finding his receivers covered, is sacked. Fourth-and-17 … punt. That’s basically how things have gone for the offenses of Long Beach City College’s opponents through two games, and leading the way has been sophomore linebacker Antonio Steele. With his speed, experience and intensity and the efforts of his talented defensive cohorts the Vikings are first in the Mission Conference American Division, fifth in Southern California and 13th in the state in yards allowed per game at 216.5.