Tough non-league shedule to prepare teams for stiff Bay League competition
With their sights set on dethroning three-time Bay League champion Palos Verdes, the football teams from Mira Costa and Redondo Union begin their quest Friday at 7 p.m. facing tough non-league opponents in what is termed “0” week of the 2014 season.
Local leagues will have a new look this season as West Torrance and Leuzinger have moved from the Bay League to the Pioneer League where all four Torrance schools will compete against each other. Inglewood and Morningside come from the Ocean League as new Bay teams while El Segundo and Lawndale leave the Pioneer and join the Ocean League.
All games kick off at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted.
The Bay and Pioneer Leagues have moved into the CIF Southern Section Western Division with the opportunity of more local teams facing one another in the playoffs.
Mira Costa is coming off an 8-4 season where the Mustangs finished second in the Bay League and reached the second round of the playoffs in the demanding Northern Division.
Coach Don Morrow’s Mustangs open the 2014 campaign at home against Notre Dame/Sherman Oaks, and seek to avenge a 42-6 loss to the Knights last season.
Notre Dame went 7-4 last season and was runner-up in the Serra League.
Mira Costa has kept Downey and Newport Harbor on its non-league schedule but replaced South Torrance and Loyola with road games against former Bay League rival West Torrance and Trabuco Hills.
Mira Costa installed a new defensive system to contend with the pass-oriented offenses in 2013, and the Mustangs will introduce their own hurry-up, spread offense this season.
The Mustangs have many two-way starters including Dane Largent and Dylan Tyrer, both who play tight end and linebacker, linemen Michael Holliday, Jimmy Millea, Jonathan Quinn and Justus Tavai, and linebacker/offensive lineman Juwan Johnson.
When not playing linebacker, senior Tre’ Searcy will carry the load at running back while junior Jacob Silvera will handle the duties at quarterback with a vast arsenal of receivers in an offensive system that will incorporate multiple sets, misdirection and precision passing.
All-league safety Glen Mitchel will serve as the Mustang’s defensive quarterback.
“Even though we lose some great, great defensive players from last year, we’re going to be even better because we’re in the second year of our new defensive system,” Morrow said. “Where we are on offense reminds me a lot of where we were with our new defensive system at this time last season. When you have a new defensive system, you still need to react to your opponent, but when you have a new offense, you at least know where you want to go which makes it a little easier.”
Morrow expects the new members of the Bay League to pose a challenge.
“Morningside and Inglewood are both enigmas because nobody knows just yet how they will stack up, but those schools have great athletic traditions and you know their kids are going to come play hard,” Morrow said. “I was disappointed when West chose to leave Bay League, so they’re going to be a great new preseason game for us. They’ll be out of their mind to prove they can still play with all of the Bay League schools which obviously they can.”
Redondo opens its season at North Torrance, a team that went 6-5 season, finished in second place to El Segundo and will be look to avenge last year’s 49-12 loss at Redondo.
Redondo went 6-5 in 2013 finishing fourth in the Bay League and returns five starters on offense and six on defense.
The Sea Hawks will have to replace three-year starting quarterback Harrison Faecher, but sophomore Jordon Lacey has quickly become a team leader and will have seasoned veterans to throw to in Redondo’s new 21 Personnel offense.
Returning junior Preston Faecher is a two-way starter at wide receiver and linebacker. Redondo also returns wide receivers DeAaron Williams and Marcel Myers.
Sophomores Dallas Branch and Edward Vaki along with junior Guy Alford look to share the load at running back that will run behind a line anchored by Pablo Gonzales, Michael Rubio, Jorge Alvarez and Danny Zimmerman.
The Sea Hawk defense will be anchored by defensive end Cedric Muzik, linemen Alex Maimot and Michael Navarro, linebackers Amir Crear, Cole LeBlanc and Faecher.
Roaming the defensive backfield will be Salesi Fafita, Jerone Jackson, Ryan Armalin and Diego Balcarcel
“We’re a hard working and competitive group,” Redondo head coach Matt Ballard said. “We are young and undersized on the line, but I’m impressed with our sophomore class. They’re young and excited about making a big impact on the varsity. We failed to rise to the moment last year however, our seniors did leave a positive legacy of brotherhood and work ethic.”
North is led by junior Mique Juarez, a multi-talented athlete who plays quarterback and wide receiver on offense and defensive end and safety on the other side of the ball.
The Pioneer Offensive Player of the Year in 2013, Juarez passed for 977 yards, rushed for 714 yards, amassed 304 receiving yards and scored 19 touchdowns that included two kick returns.
Juarez has been offered scholarships by USC, UCLA Cal and San Diego State and likely play defense on the collegiate level. He recorded 85 tackles and had six pass deflections last season.
The Saxons run a spread offense that includes quarterback Chris Kuaea (5-11, 190) and running back Eddie Peneda (5-11, 200). Both players anchor North’s defense as linebackers.
“All contests with Torrance schools will have significance now,” North head coach Todd Croce said. “Our non-league schedule is very challenging which will prepare us for a touch league battle.”
Palos Verdes will have a bullseye on its back this season but head coach Guy Gardner feels the leadership on his team and talent at the wide receiver, running back and defensive back positions will keep the Sea Kings in contention
Palos Verdes will be led by three all-league selections – wide receiver Lance Brown, defensive lineman Connor Markley and defensive back Lucas Cooper.
Brown, who had 45 catches for 676 yard and seven touchdowns last season, will join Shawn Hill as the main targets for senior quarterback Steven Delcarson. Stanton Gilbertson will be the featured running back in the Sea King’s multiple offense.
Markley heads the linebacking corps after recording 39 tackles and five sacks in 2013 and will get help from Phil Bernard, who also plays on the offensive line.
Cooper controls the defensive backfield. The senior posted 105 tackles and one interception last season.
“We have a very tough non-league schedule with Narbonne, Moorpark, Newport-Harbor, Foothill, and Carson,” Gardner said. “It should prepare us as the Bay League will be strong as always.”
Palos Verdes opens its season at Narbonne on Thursday, Aug. 28 at 7 pm.
Peninsula looks to improve on its 4-6 record in 2013 and will rely heavily on running back Rory Hubbard, a first-team All-Bay League selection that rushed for 1,258 yards (including three 200-yard games) and 10 touchdowns on 180 carries last season/
The Panthers’ first game will be at North Torrance on Friday, Sept. 5.
Inglewood joins the Bay League after finishing 2-3 in the Ocean League and 40-6 overall last season.
First-year head coach Jason Miller expects the Apaches to rely on their quickness and speed. The team will be led by receiver/cornerback De’Juan Tyson, cornerback Zubayr Muhammad, receiver/safety Kendric Johnson and cornerback Dominic Emerson.
Morningside finished 6-5 last season placing third in the Ocean League. The Monarchs host Animo on Sept. 5 in their season opener.
Head Coach Derwin Henderson will rely on running back Chris Williams (more than 1,500 rushing yards in 2013) to be the workhorse on the offense.
Defensively, Morningside will be led by lineman Charles Akanno and linebacker/safety Deshawn Williams.