Eastlake quarterback Izzack Morales returns to run the Titans' offense.
Mission Hills beat rival Oceanside twice, won the San Diego Section Open Division football title, finished No. 1 in a poll of 31 sportswriters and sportscasters, and represented the section well in the Southern California Regional, losing a hard-fought 35-28 decision to Bakersfield on Friday night.
Do the Grizzlies have enough coming back to repeat as a champion? Can they replace quarterback Connor Wynn, receiver Scott Higgins and all-section linebackers Fred Warner and Ricky Liuchan?
Following is a somewhat educated guess at the Top 10 at the start of the 2014 season with final 2013 record and ranking in parentheses:
1. Eastlake (10-2, No. 6)
The Titans return QBs Izzack Morales and Justin Scott along with RBs Isaiah Strayhorn (1,273 yards) and Traylon Reed (1,063). The defense will rebuild around DE Nathaniel Sweat, LB Ronnie Sallee and DB Santiago Andujo.
2. Helix (9-3, No. 2)
QB Michael Austin (1,529 yards) returns along with RBs Nathan Stinson (791) and Derrick Clark and WR Dashawn Keirsey. Plus, the lines — on offense and defense — figure to be solid.
3. St. Augustine (11-2, No. 4)
Elijah Preston (1,481 yards), the RB who helped the Saints average 411 yards on offense, is the key returnee. Thomas Goodridge figures to replace QB Joe Joe Hudson. The defense is loaded with returnees DL Chuck Filiaga, LBs Quinn Seau, Francoise Sims II and Jake Dunning and DBs Tariq Thompson and Frank Buncom IV.
4. Cathedral Catholic (11-2, No. 4)
QB Clayton Dale (1,311 yards) returns, but the Dons must rebuild the run game, probably around Drew Cowell (402 yards). Defensively, LBs Jack Onstott and Choyce Bostian III return along with DB Ray Smith.
5. Oceanside (10-2, No. 2)
The Pirates lose a ton, but QB Matt Romero (2,299 yards, 26 TDs) returns along with WR Johnny Arzola and RBs Josh Bernard and Nikko Mageo. Tommy Woo, a lineman, is the anchor on defense.
6. Mission Hills (12-2, No. 1)
Wynn, Warner and Liuchan must be replaced. But two-way players Martrel Holmes, Troy Warner, Will Stricklin and Jared Cheatwood return along with RBs Kameryn Coleman, Kyle Bauer and Kameron Canteen and OL Griffin Gullotti.
7. Madison (9-2, No. 10)
The massive Vermillion brothers — Sam and Jacob — must be replaced. But QB Kareem Coles (1,471 passing yards, 451 rushing) returns along with RB Isaiah Osborne (734 yards) and WR Shaheed Madyun. On defense, DL Nick Meray, LB Travis Hess and DB Amaurie Johnson are back.
8. Ramona (10-2, No. 8)
A solid offensive line is back to protect QB Marco Cobian (1,330 yards). RB Brandon Gansch (888 yards) is also back along with WR Garrett Binkley. DL Dallas Domnitz and Raul Briseno, LB Keyshaun Crichlow and DB Christian Dominguez are also back.
9. El Capitan (10-2, —)
The Vaqueros return the top QB in the county in Brad Cagle (2,755 yards and 32 TDs). RB DJ Smith (986 yards) and WR Isaiah Capoocia 47 (catches) also return. LB Joey LaChappa and DBs Sam Melero and Jared Turner are the top returnees on defense.
10. Grossmont (9-3, —)
Record-setting QB Anthony Lawrence is gone. Calvin Farris figures to be the replacement. He has help up front from OL Logan Candelario and Marcus Morgan and behind him in RBs Jake Haar (998 yards rushing and receiving) and Alijah Avant (758 yards running and receiving). Defensively, DL Chaz Cadwalader (53 tackles), and Tyler Millican are back along with LBs Malik Hayes (73 tackles) and Jacob Denson (54 tackles).
Others to watch, in alphabetical order: Hilltop (10-2), Hoover (8-4), La Costa Canyon (7-4), Mission Bay (12-2), Monte Vista (7-6), Olympian (8-4), Poway (4-7), Rancho Buena Vista (9-4), San Marcos (9-5) and Torrey Pines (6-5).