Drew Cowell is a threat on offense and kick returns for Cathedral Catholic.
Last year: 11-2
Coach: Sean Doyle, 19th year
Key players: Tyson Maeva (MLB-RB), Clayton Dale (QB), Drew Cowell (RB-DB), Jack Onstott (ILB), Choyce Bostian III (OLB), Ray Smith (NG-TE), Casey Toohill (OLB-TE), Jackson McCullough (OL), Jacob Van de Grift (OL), Daniel Plum (TE), Chucky Amu (OL-DL).
Scouting report: The Dons have won six section titles in seven seasons and have another championship-caliber team. But they will face their biggest challenge ever because, if the season goes as expected, they will find themselves competing among the section’s top eight teams for the first time in the Open Division. Dale, a veteran, will quarterback an offense that reached the finals in two summer passing leagues. The running back corps — Adam Eastwood, Currie Thomasson and Hogan Irwin — is young, but Doyle believes it could be as talented a group as he’s ever had. The defense has a tremendous front seven and a young but promising secondary.
Aug. 29: Folsom, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 6: Oaks Christian at Oceanside, 4 p.m.
Sept. 12: Torrey Pines, 7 p.m.
Sept. 19: Helix, 7 p.m.
Sept. 26: at Newbury Park, 7 p.m.
Oct. 3: at Eastlake, 7 p.m.
Oct. 10: at Scripps Ranch, 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 17: Lincoln, 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 24: at St. Augustine, 7 p.m.
Oct. 31: at Mira Mesa, 6:30 p.m.
Last year: 1-9
Coach: David Dunn, 4th year
Key players: Johnny Garcia (MLB), Timmie Smith (OLB), Donell Pleasant (SL-DB), Roman Martinez (QB), La’tre Jacquess (WR-DB), Braxton Falealili (OL-DL), Micah Edwards (RB), Ty’Shaun Whiting (SL-DB), Abdul Abdullah (DE-TE), Kayvon Brown (LB).
Scouting report: Graduation losses took a toll last season on the Hornets, who went from winning a section championship to winning just one game. They should finish somewhere in between this year. Six starters return on defense, led by Garcia, who is being recruited by Ivy League schools, and Smith. Pleasant is a two-way standout who has the Aztecs, among others, interested in him. Whiting and Falealili also are college prospects. Offensive improvement will be crucial for a team that averaged just 14 points a game last year.
Sept. 5: at Carlsbad, 7 p.m.
Sept. 12: Point Loma, 6:30 p.m.
Sept. 19: at Olympian, 7 p.m.
Oct. 3: Kearny, 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 10: at Mira Mesa, 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 17: at Cathedral Catholic, 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 24: at Scripps Ranch, 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 31: Hoover, 6:30 p.m.
Nov. 7: St. Augustine, 6:30 p.m.
Last year: 5-6
Coach: Gary Blevins, 18th year
Key players: Steffon McKnight (WR), Chamberlin Liddell-Patacsil (RB), Christian Veeder (G), Dondre Johnson (CB), Eddie Jones (HB), Matt Reitano (FS), Ricky Belmontez (C), Spencer Kellerman (TE), Makonnen Hill (CB), Hunter Clark (LB).
Scouting report: The Marauders are poised to take their place among the county’s top teams with an offense that will get a boost from quarterback Tristan Hughes, a sophomore transfer from Cathedral, newcomer Austin Watts in slot and basketball standout Devin Sanders at wide receiver. Mira Mesa is very athletic, which should overcome a relative lack of size. The defense will dictate whether the team can rise to the elite eight that make the Open Division playoffs.
Aug. 29: at Escondido, 7 p.m.
Sept. 5: El Camino, 7 p.m.
Sept. 12: Mt. Carmel, 7 p.m.
Sept. 26: at Chula Vista, 7 p.m.
Oct. 3: Madison, 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 10: Lincoln, 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 17: at St. Augustine, 7 p.m.
Oct. 24: at Morse, 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 31: Cathedral Catholic, 6:30 p.m.
Nov. 7: at Scripps Ranch, 6:30 p.m.
Last year: 11-2
Coach: Richard Sanchez, 6th year
Key players: Frank Buncom IV (DB-WR), Elijah Preston (RB), Francoise Sims (LB-RB), Quinn Seau (LB), Michael Alves (OL-DL), Chris Gesell (C), Danny Ramirez (OL), Tommy Goodridge (QB), Tom Browne (OL-DL), Tariq Thompson (DW-WR).
Scouting report: The Saints will be hard-pressed to match last season’s success, which included a Division II championship, but they aspire to reach similar heights just the same. College prospect Gesell will snap it to Goodridge, who takes over at quarterback. He will be breaking in a new cast of receivers. They will benefit from Preston (1,481 yards, 17 TDs) in the backfield. Buncom, who has colleges across the country clamoring for his commitment, leads a defense that is strong at linebacker and in the secondary but is breaking in an entirely new line.
Aug. 29: at Oceanside, 7 p.m.
Sept. 5: at Madison, 6:30 p.m.
Sept. 12: at Los Angeles Loyola, 7 p.m.
Sept. 19: Otay Ranch, 7 p.m.
Sept. 26: Eastlake, p.m.
Oct. 3: at Vista Murrieta, p.m.
Oct. 17: Mira Mesa, 7 p.m.
Oct. 24: Cathedral Catholic, 7 p.m.
Oct. 31: Scripps Ranch, 7 p.m.
Nov. 7: at Lincoln, 6:30 p.m.
Last year: 6-5
Coach: Joe Meyer, 5th year
Key players: Peter Staab (G), Waachiim Spirit Wolf (DE), Couri Bryant (DE), Josh Fish (TE-FS), Zach Podraza (QB), Nick Smart (LB), Garrett Landress (OL), Desmond Simmons (WR), Nick Cathey (OL), Jalaluddin Numanlia-Wone (RB-DB), Cameron Breckenridge (WR).
Scouting report: The Falcons have good balance between offense and defense, which bodes well for a postseason opportunity as long as injuries do not deplete a squad with a dearth of depth. A good receiving corps will make things easier for the maturing Podraza. So will having Numanlia-Wone, a transfer from Murrieta, in the backfield. The biggest concern will be getting him enough protection from the offensive line. The defense is athletic, quick off the edge and benefits from a solid secondary.
Aug. 29: at San Marcos, 7 p.m.
Sept. 5: Morse, 6:30 p.m.
Sept. 12: San Diego, 6 p.m.
Sept. 19: at Bonita Vista, 7 p.m.
Oct. 3: at Point Loma, 3:30 p.m.
Oct. 10: Cathedral Catholic, 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 17: at Patrick Henry, 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 24: Lincoln, 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 31: at St. Augustine, 7 p.m.
Nov. 7: Mira Mesa, 6:30 p.m.