The Cathedral Catholic Dons pose with their Southern California Regional Championship plaque after defeating Narbonne 24-21.
Cathedral Catholic is starting the 2019 high school football season right where it left off in 2018 — ranked No. 1 in the San Diego Section.
The Dons finished last season 12-2, losing 19-7 to La Costa Canyon in the season opener and to Folsom 21-14 in overtime in the state Division 1-AA championship.
Cathedral Catholic was a fourth-quarter first down away from winning that game.
Star running back Shawn Poma has graduated, but Cathedral is big and talented on both sides of the ball.
The Dons garnered 20 of 31 first-place votes in the Union-Tribune Preseason Poll, which includes voters from newspapers, TV, radio, websites as well as section officials.
MaxPreps has Cathedral Catholic ranked No. 13 in the state and No. 45 in the nation.
The Dons open the season Friday, hosting La Costa Canyon.
“Honestly, I don’t care if we’re No. 1, 10 or 100 because preseason stuff doesn’t mean anything,” said Cathedral Catholic coach Sean Doyle.
“Sure we read it. It makes for great conversation. Sure the kids, the fans like it. And I know the people voting have to start somewhere.
“The preseason, though, is the hardest to pick because you don’t have a lot of information. It’s not like college where there is a ton of information — TV, magazines — out there.”
St. Augustine — Cathedral Catholic’s rival and Western League foe — is ranked No. 2. The Saints picked up 10 first-place votes.
Lincoln, a third Western League team, is ranked No. 5.
The seven-team Avocado League has five teams ranked in the preseason Top 10 — No. 4 Torrey Pines. No. 6
Helix is third in the preseason poll and received the other first-place vote. Steele Canyon is No. 10.
“Being the preseason No. 1 just means we have a bigger target on our backs,” Doyle said. “Rankings mean more at the end of the season.
“That’s when we want to be No. 1.”
UNION-TRIBUNE PRESEASON PREP FOOTBALL POLL
Points awarded on a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. First-place votes in parentheses.
Rk | Team | 2018 | Pts | Comment
1. | Cathedral Catholic (20) | 12-2 | 298 | Open Division champions ready to defend title
2. | St. Augustine (10) | 10-3 | 282 | Saints are loaded and prepared to challenge
3. | Helix (1) | 8-5 | 238 | Elelyon Noa gives Highlanders best RB in county, if not state
4. | Torrey Pines | 10-1 | 179 | Rebuild shouldn't take long for Falcons program
5. | Lincoln | 10-4 | 154 | Hornets might have best skill-position players in region
6. | Mission Hills | 5-7 | 153 | Grizzlies are huge up front on both sides of the ball
7. | Carlsbad | 6-4 | 116 | Lancers have lots of new — and very skilled — players
8. | La Costa Canyon | 6-4 | 108 | Mavericks list talented players on both sides of ball
9. | Oceanside | 6-6 | 51 | Pirates seem to have located championship swagger again
10. | Steele Canyon | 9-3 | 41 | Cougars could challenge again after 2017 state title
Others receiving votes: San Marcos (8-2, 26 points), Eastlake (10-2, 22 points), Madison (6-5, 12 points), San Diego (10-2, 38 points), Otay Ranch (6-5, 1 point).
Voters: 31 sportswriters, sportscasters and officials from throughout the county — John Maffei (San Diego Union-Tribune); Terry Monahan, Don Norcross, Rick Hoff, Jim Lindgren, Bob Petinak (freelance contributors); Paul Rudy, Brandon Stone, Ted Mendenhall (KUSI-TV); Adam Paul (ECPreps.com); Ramon Scott (EastCountySports.com); Bodie DeSilva (sandiegopreps.com); Taylor Quellman (Fox Sports); Steve Brand (San Diego Sports Association); Troy Hirsch, Kalyn McMakin, Tabitha Lipkin (Fox 5 San Diego); Rick Smith (Partletonsports.com); Jerry Schniepp, John Labeta, Ron Marquez (San Diego Section); Raymond Brown (sdfootball.net); John Kentera, Braden Suprenant (97.3-FM The Fan); Steve Dolan (Mountain Country 107.9-FM); Mike Dolan, John Carroll (San Diego Section football tournament directors); Christian Pedersen (SoCal Prep Insider); Joe Heinz (athletics director, Sweetwater school district); Eric Williams (WBK Sports/SDFNL); Thomas Gutierrez (Cal-Hi Sports).