There are two new head coaches at both Shandon and North County Christian this season, and both have very high expectations for their teams in 2011.
But of the two, new North County Christian coach David Sobey may be the most confident.
“Looking at what we accomplished these last two weeks,” Sobey said, “we’re absolutely going to compete for that league title. I honestly believe, with the quality of kids that I have, we should win league, and we should win it being undefeated in league.
“I don’t think there is a team that should be able to beat us.”
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It seems possible taking into account that the Crusaders, who only lost three players to graduation, return a majority of starters from last year’s 9-2 (3-1 Coast Valley League) playoff team.
Notably, quarterback Keelan Willison returns after passing for 1,133 yards and 18 touchdowns last year.
He’ll have Daniel Katches to throw to. He was the team’s leading receiver with 72 receptions and racked up 918 yards and 18 touchdowns.
However, despite the team’s returning talent and Sobey’s confidence, he’s still making sure his team doesn’t overlook other schools in the league.
“That doesn’t mean we can write Valley off. That doesn’t mean we can right Maricopa off,” Sobey said. “I am not looking past those games at all. We’re certainly not looking past Shandon. Shandon is another team that has been perennially strong in the league.”
If new Shandon coach Marc Sandall has anything to say about it, he wants the Outlaws to return to prominence.
“At one time, Shandon was a powerhouse,” Sandall said. “I would like to bring that back.
“Maybe we could rise above the notch of the next team and win one or two more games than we did last year.”
Sandall is bringing with him an entire new philosophy. The schemes on both sides of the ball are different, along with the training philosophies.
“Were doing sports-specific training for explosion, speed, strength and quickness, instead of the regular weightlifting program,” Sandall said. “We’re doing more sports-specific exercises to, not be so much bigger, but to be stronger, faster and quicker.”
It’s all in an effort to build off what former coach Alan Sciocchetti and the Outlaws (4-5, 2-2 CVL) did a year ago. They’ll return a few starters of last year’s squad, such as Michael Portney, who had 93 carries for 438 yards and four touchdowns, but with nine seniors graduating last year, the Outlaws are going to be short on depth.
“Here is the big factor: injuries,” Sandall said. “We don’t have a whole lot of depth, if we can keep our injury level to a real minimum and stay strong and stay fit, I think we’ll win more than we lose. I believe that we can go 6-3. That is our goal.”