Eli Shelton returns after compiling 804 receiving yards for Mater Dei Catholic last season.
Last year: 12-3
Coach: Chris Thompson, 4th year
Key players: Anthony Posada (QB), Keenan Ellis (WR), Jake Rozar (WR-DB), Josh Godfrey (RB-DB), Diego Vasquez (OL), Brayan Mota (OL), Santiago De Armas (DB), Lorenso Perry (DB), Alex Gutierrez (DE-TE), Diego Torres (DE).
Scouting report: The defending section champion and state runner-up returns 10 starters in a system where few players are asked to go both ways. Posada passed for 2,269 yards with 15 TDs against eight interceptions and returns track standout Ellis at receiver and Godfrey at running back, where he’ll try to match the 2,600 yards rushing by departed Greg Bell. The line is huge, led by Vasquez (6-4, 275). Very demanding schedule.
Last year: 5-6
Coach: Dean Tropp, 1st year
Key players: Micah Mendillo (DB), Kaleb Dueitt (RB), Declan Fernandez (LB), Jae Vitin (DB-RB), Manny Velarde (LB), Billy Dunkle (OL-DL), Jalen Graham (OL-DL), Alfredo Garcia (QB), Dylan Teller (OL-DL), Nick Klugh (DB).
Scouting report: Tropp, the former AD and assistant coach, takes over the traditional South Bay power. Dunkle (6-4, 320) and Graham (6-2, 300) anchor an oversized line. Garcia, a junior, will need to lead a team that will feature the running of Dueitt and Vitin. Youngsters will need to step up where there are holes left by graduation. The Titans’ schedule ducks no one.
MATER DEI CATHOLIC
Last year: 14-1
Coach: John Joyner, 8th year
Key players: CJ Verdell (RB), Chris Jones (QB), Kyle Moses (WR-DB), Micha Scott (OL-DL), Quentin Frazier (WR-DB), Pedro Chavez (OL-DL), Ruben Duron (LB), Eli Shelton (WR-DB), Jovan Bayless (WR-DB), Elias Eribez (WR-DB).
Scouting report: Defending state Division III champions return 17 starters and maybe the best offense in the section. Verdell is a proven RB with 2,135 yards and 28 TDs last season. Jones passed for 2,147 yards with 25 TDs and just one interception. Shelton was the leading receiver with 804 yards on 23 grabs, scoring 11 times while Frazier (16 receptions, 420 yards, 2 TDs) and Verdell (15-278-5) were major threats as well. Scott (6-3, 285) leads a big, experienced line. Move to Mesa might be a challenge.
Last year: 5-6
Coach: Paul Van Nostrand, 5th year
Key players: Dominic Gudino (OL-DL), PK Sansano (OL-DL), Barush Martinez (OL-DL), Noah Lacsina (RB-LB), Andrew Whyte (TE-LB), Brandon Ridgels (DB-RB), Royce Casiano (DB-RB), Michael Kipling (RB), Trey Curry (RB-DB), Chris Gomez (K).
Scouting report: All-league running back Lacsina (661 yards, six TDs) leads the way for the Eagles, who graduated both quarterbacks and will turn to junior Nico Mendoza. Like most teams in this league, there is plenty of beef up front led by Gudino (6-3, 300). Gomez booted through 80 percent of his extra points and 75 percent of his field goals and could be a key weapon early.
Last year: 7-6
Coach: Lance Christensen, 3rd year
Key players: Devin Lloyd (WR-DB), Nick Sandoval (LB), Fenuki Kauvaka (LB), Joshua Tufele (DL-FB), Eric Matos (LB-FB), Alex King (LB-TE), Fanu Autele (FB), Manu Ta’a (DL-LB), Darian Williams (TE-LB), Luis Benson (OL).
Scouting report: With 10 returning starters, the Mustangs are well-positioned to improve upon last year’s record and a make a run at the league title. Mission Bay transfer QB Christian Zamudio is getting some Division I offers and has inviting targets in a pair of 6-4 receivers, Lloyd (23 catches, 389 yards, 2 TDs) and Williams. A fairly young offensive line will have to jell quickly as the schedule is challenging. The defense is solid.