Hopes high for local squads
After the way they finished last season, Cathedral Catholic has every reason to be brimming with confidence. The Dons won their last seven games culminating with a 41-3 thrashing of Point Loma in the San Diego Section Div. III title game at Qualcomm Stadium.
But there's a thin line between confidence and overconfidence that Dons coach Sean Doyle and his staff are determined their players not cross.
To drive home that point, he is pointing to the team's low point of the season - a 21-9 Week 5 non-league loss to Otay Ranch of Chula Vista - not the late-season surge.
The Otay Ranch game followed one of the team's best-played games of the season at the time - albeit in defeat, 27-24 to then nationally ranked Carlsbad, which at the time had a 25-game winning streak that went back to 2005.
"Everyone was telling us how great we were and next week we practiced like everybody was telling them how great they were," Doyle said. "Then we walked out on the field and we got beat."
The early returns suggest the Dons are taking nothing for granted, Doyle said, noting intense practices indicate no signs of complacency.
"They learned something last year and I think that's carried over into this year," Doyle said. "They have big goals and they've been working hard for it. They're not coming in too arrogant."
But they are coming in with an abundance of talent.
Standout senior running back Tyler Gaffney is among the county's most coveted Div. I prospects. His presence in the backfield should help makes senior quarterback Parker Hipp transition from slot receiver seamless.
The Dons boast a dominant offensive line led by senior tackle Everett Benyard, a 6-foot-325-pounder, and junior tackle Alex Crosthwaite (6-4, 240).
Standout flanker Matt Moynihan has decided to skip his senior year to concentrate on baseball. Among those filling his shoes is senior receiver/tight end Brad Harrington.
Newcomers Alex Pasqual and Chance Early are both talented receivers with great upside, Doyle said. Early is the son of former NFL wide receiver Quinn Early, who played for the Chargers in the late 1980s.
The Dons return several key defenders including junior cornerback Josh Jacko, senior inside linebacker Ryan Downing, junior linebacker Jordan Lance and senior defensive end Kyle Boyce.
A talented but inexperienced defensive backfield features senior Brian Van Deventer and juniors Brien Moynihan and Brian McLaughlin.
Other newcomers to watch are senior linebacker Andrew Haupt senior and defensive lineman Mouse Jalil (6-4, 285).
Senior place kicker/punter Roman Scirrera replaces Brian Stahovich, who's now at San Diego State.
Santa Fe Christian
The Eagles have in recent years thrown the ball so infrequently they hardly ever compete in summer league passing tournaments. There was no need.
So their entry in San Diego State and North County tournaments this summer is a clear signal of change.
A progressively more challenging schedule that's followed the small-school program's move up from Div. V to Div. IV necessitated Santa Fe Christian adapt to teams that are more athletic, more physical and have greater depth, coach Brian Sipe said.