Despite being defending Central Coast Section Division IV champs, the Sacred Heart Prep football team can’t rest on its laurels if it hopes to be in the mix for a Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division title and a repeat as CCS champs.
Not that the Gators would take anything for granted, but considering they lost a lot of talent from that 2012 championship squad, SHP still has plenty of pieces returning as well as a number of players that figure to continue the Gators’ tradition of being one of the best teams in the PAL.
“I think of us as being competitive (this year). I think we have a chance to win every game, but I don’t think we’re going to be dominant,” said SHP coach Pete Lavorato. “Defense, I think, will be a little behind where we were last year. We lost a lot of seniors. But I think our athleticism is just as good. We might have a bit of a slow start but, as the year goes on, hopefully we get better and better.”
One of the biggest positions the Gators need to fill is at starting quarterback. Lavorato said two players are vying for the spot: junior Cole Marsh, last year’s backup, and sophomore Mason Randle, who started for the frosh-soph team in 2012.
“They’re pretty even. They can both get the job done. They’ll both play,” Lavorato said. “Mason is a sophomore, so that is the only reservation, but he is a leader and a very heady player. There’s something about him. He can play.
“Cole, he’s flat-out good.”
The quarterback position in SHP’s offense, while critical, is not the focal point of the Gators attack. That would fall on the shoulders of the Gators’ running game and they should be solid in the backfield this year with the return of Andrew Segre and Chris Lee. Joining them will be junior Griffin Kraemer.
“He’s a dynamic flyback,” Lavorato said of Kraemer. “He could be a game changer for us.”
Leading the way up front is Patrick Finnigan, first-team, all-league selection last year, along with Alex Castro.
The Gators may have lost a lot to graduation on the defensive side of the ball, but have its anchor returning in defensive back Noah Kawasaki, first-team, all-league selection last season. Ben Burr-Kirven, who saw plenty of time on the offensive side of the ball last season, will be the leader of the linebacking corps, while Paul Westcott will lead the defensive line.
Lavorato said his biggest concern is depth as the Gators’ roster is only about 30-players deep. Buoying Lavorato, however, is the fact he is confident in the ability of nearly every one of those nearly three-dozen players.
“The area I have concern is our overall depth. We just don’t have a lot of players,” Lavorato said. “But when you look at our team, there isn’t one kid who can’t play. We’re fortunate that way. Our development teams, we started a freshman team four years ago, that really helped. We run the same stuff on three teams (freshman, junior varsity and varsity). By the time they get to be juniors, they know how to play.”
Coach: Pete Lavorato
2012 record: 4-1 PAL Bay, 13-1 overall, CCS DIV champion
Key returners: Andrew Segre (sr., RB); Pat Finnigan (sr., OL); Alex Castro (sr., OL); Ricky Grau (sr., UTL); Chris Lee (sr., RB); Ben Burr-Kirven (sr., LB); Noah Kawasaki (sr., DB); Paul Westcott (sr., DL).
Key newcomers: Mark Hardy (sr., OL/LB); J.R. Hardy (jr., LB); Griffin Kraemer (jr., RB); Mitch Martella (jr., WR); Will Reilly (sr., WR); Cole Marsh (jr., QB); Mason Randle (so., QB); Andrew Daschbach (so., TE).
2013 schedule (home games in CAPS): 9/6 @ Branham, 4:15 p.m.; 9/14 vs. MOUNTAIN VIEW, 1 p.m.; 9/20 @ Salinas, 7 p.m.; 9/27 @ King’s Academy, 7 p.m.; 10/4 @ Woodside, 7 p.m.; 10/18 @ Menlo-Atherton, 7 p.m.; 10/25 vs. SOUTH CITY, 3 p.m.; 11/1 vs. SEQUOIA, 2:45 p.m.; 11/8 vs. TERRA NOVA, 2:45 p.m.; 11/15 vs. Menlo School at Sequoia, 7 p.m.