By Gideon Rubin
Cathedral Catholic has taken different roads on their way to turning an era of dominance into a full-blown football dynasty.
But since 2007, every year, they’ve ended up in the same place, and produced identical results.
Last season ended with the Dons winning their fifth consecutive San Diego Section Division III title game, as they trounced Olympian 41-0 in a December championship game at Qualcomm Stadium.
The Dons face formidable challenges and an unforgiving schedule in their quest to extend their dynasty.
Among the biggest challenges will be replacing heavy graduation losses.
But the Dons, who graduated 33 seniors, have an abundance of talent returning.
None are more significant than senior quarterback Garrett Bogart.
An offense that in recent years has primarily relied on the run took to the airwaves last year under Bogart, who threw for 1,805 yards and 19 touchdowns.
The Dons will miss running back J.J. Stavola, who graduated after leading the team with 1,032 yards and 13 rushing touchdowns.
Key backfield returnees include senior running back Tony Johnson, their second leading rusher from last year (597 yards and five touchdowns), and juniors Chris Moliga (176 yards, one touchdown) and Xavier Ulutu (121 yards, two touchdowns).
The Dons suffered a particularly tough graduation hit to their receiving corps though.
With their four leading receivers from last season (Andrew Pascale, Brian Heinz, Trevor Deddeh and Stavola), who combined for 1,429 receiving yards and 18 touchdowns last season no longer in the mix, Bogart will have to count on the development of an untested crop of receivers.
Moliga, who caught 11 passes for 176 yards, is the only returnee with over 100 receiving yards from last year’s team.
On the defensive side, they’ll miss linebacker Russell Reeder; who led the team with 119 tackles.
Their key returnees include junior lineman Kyle Davis, who was second on the team last season with 7.5 sacks, and Toshaun Poumele, a senior linebacker who was the team’s second leading tackler last season with 117.
Torrey Pines has been to the San Diego Section Division I quarterfinals three straight years and the Falcons are hopeful a powerful offensive line can help them get that much closer to a championship bid.
The Falcons are led by offensive lineman Jacob Alsadek, a 6-foot-7 330-pounder who has already committed to playing at Division I Arizona.
Running backs Billy Maggs, Collin Brown and Cole Jazco project to be the featured backfield threats in the Falcons’ run-oriented Delaware wing-T offense.
Wide receiver Jackson Gentes figures to be their most prominent deep threat.
Other key returnees include linebackers Miles Ahles and Grant McGahey and offensive linemen Jake Ashby and Andrew Maneval.
Santa Fe Christian:
Santa Fe Christian is coming off one of its best seasons in years in which the Eagles compiled an 11-2 overall record and advanced to the Division V playoff semifinals.
The Eagles hope to make another deep postseason run despite graduating seven seniors, a group that includes three of their four leading rushers from last season.
They return their leading rusher, Tony Miro, a powerful and swift 5-9 195-pounder who last season piled up 1,072 ground yards and led the team with 13 touchdowns.
Other key returnees include running back Cole Needham and receiver Nathan Ross.
The Eagles run a ground-oriented Delaware wing-T offense that they always seem to execute exceptionally well to go along with a hard-nosed defense.
Two-way linemen Blaine Weeks ,Connor Vaccaro, Brenton Drake, Dominic Burtech and Zach Feld (all seniors) all have varsity experience and figure to be potential difference-makers as young skilled players develop.
San Diego Jewish Academy:
San Diego Jewish Academy is 10 years removed from the establishment of its football program and heads into its fourth year of playing 11-man football after competing on the 8-man circuit the previous seven years.
The Lions are hopeful they can build on a solid 2011 performance, when they went 4-3 overall, narrowly missing out on a Division V playoff berth.
They figure to have an excellent chance of turning the corner this year with a strong returning nucleus.
The Lions return senior quarterback Micah Weinstein, the school’s all-time leading passer.
Weinstein has mastered a college-style spread offense that is both exciting to watch and difficult to execute. He threw for 1,063 yards and 10 touchdowns last season.
Other key returnees include running back Jeremy Danzig, and Jake Posnock (both seniors).
Danzig led the team rushing for 552 yards and five touchdowns last season.
Posnock was the team’s leading tackler last season with 68.