By Gideon Rubin
Cathedral Catholic suffered some pretty heavy graduation losses, but don’t expect anybody to feel sorry for the Dons.
With Cathedral Catholic is in the midst of one of San Diego County’s greatest football dynasties in recent memory, graduating 14 seniors seems more like an inconvenience than a devastating blow.
The Dons are seeking an unheard of fifth consecutive San Diego Section Div. III title after rebounding from a slow start to win the section title.
The Dons, who going into last season had won 33 of their last 34 games going back to 2007, lost their first three games of the season but went on to win seven of their last eight, including a 24-7 thrashing of Lincoln of San Diego in the title game.
And whatever the Dons lack in experience, they figure to make up for with a roster loaded with an abundance of talent.
Running back J.J. Stavola, fullback/receiver Szongaia Brown, and quarterback Luke Ramsey are among the Dons key returnees.
Other key returnees include linebacker Russell Reeder, defensive back Patrick Downing, and place kicker Brian Heinz.
Torrey Pines is coming its best season in years, going 9-2 and advancing to the Div. I semifinals for the first time since 2005.
And although the Falcons lost several key players from last year’s team, coach Scott Ashby is hopeful his team laid out a foundation it can build on.
“I think we’re going to inexperienced early in the season, but we’ve got a lot of hard working kids and I believe we’re going to continue getting better as the season goes on,” Ashby said. “Last year we had a great group of kids and some of our juniors and seniors were able to learn from them, so we’re looking forward to carrying on what we started last season.”
Andrew Fargo, a powerful and swift senior fullback, is among the team’s key returnees.
The always physical Falcons feature senior two-way lineman Jacob Alsadek, a 6-foot-7 310-pounder, who figures to help Torrey Pines continue that tradition.
Senior Vincent Arvia is also considered one of the area’s top lineman.
Seniors defensive backs Jack Mitchell and Brandon Williams give the Falcons a talented and experienced secondary.
Senior running back David Bagby also figures to play a prominent role.
Newcomer Cole Jaczko, a junior running back up from the junior varsity, will also be counted on to make an impact.
Santa Fe Christian:
Santa Fe Christian is coming a season in which it advanced to the Div. V semifinals, but the road back won’t be easy.
The Eagles suffered a setback before the season started when one of their most productive players from last season deciding to forgo his senior year to play baseball.
But if history is any indication, the Eagles have a knack for rising to the occasion.
The Eagles will miss two-way standout Josh Estill, a fullback/linebacker was among the team’s leading rushers and led the team in tackles. The Eagles graduated seven seniors including Austin Knoth, who rushed for 889 yards and nine touchdowns.
But they return an abundance of talent.
Key returnees include senior quarterback/defensive back Connor Moore, who rushed for 943 yards, threw for 697 yards, and combined for 13 touchdowns. Moore was second on the team with 106 tackles.
Other key returnees include Jarrod Watson-Lewis, offensive lineman/linebacker Louie Dedonates, and running back/defensive back Graham Gomez.
Watson-Lewis, a two-way standout, last season rushed for 566 yards and seven touchdowns and had 53 tackles.
San Diego Jewish Academy:
Adjusting to 11-man football was hard enough for upstart San Diego Jewish Academy.
Now they’ll have to adjust to a new and exceedingly more difficult league.
The Lions have moved up from the pedestrian Southern League to the intensely competitive Pacific League, where they’ll be competing against some of the area’s top small-school programs, with some of their league opponents boasting enrollment greater than 900. SDJA has less than 150 students enrolled in its high school.
And to make things really interesting, the Lions are fielding a team of just 13 players.
Administration officials made the move because they wanted a more stable schedule after the team experienced several cancellations at some of the desert schools in the Southern League.
“It’s definitely going to be a challenge,” Lions coach Mark Wetzel said.
The Lions are led by junior quarterback Micah Weinstein, junior receiver Ethan Laser, and junior running back Jeremy Danzig.
Other key returnees include senior halfback/strong safety/kicker Adam Baltinester, a soccer standout who’s being recruited as a kicker by several Div. I colleges including Miami, Michigan and San Diego State.
Baltinester, along with senior two-way linemen Isaac Perez and Yuval Samuels will also be counted on for leadership.
New addition Donte Atkins, a 6-foot-2 363-pound two-way lineman who’s from Samoa, gives the Lions a formidable presence at the line of scrimmage the program has never had.
Other key newcomers included sophomore linebacker/offensive lineman Jake Posnock, freshman two-way lineman Daniel Magoon, and Kiote Coles, a female junior who is a starting linebacker.
The Lions run a complicated spread offense that they hope will enable them to overcome their lack of depth and inexperience.
“We’re going to have to outsmart our opponents,” Wetzel said.