Scorebook Live’s 2019 Southern Section high school football preview continues with a look at Division 9, which is comprised of 22 schools.
San Gorgonio defeated Brea Olinda 21-17 in the D-9 championship game a season ago. San Gorgonio has moved up to Division 8, but Brea Olinda remains in D-9 for 2019.
DIVISION 9 OUTLOOK
Brea Olinda must deal with a complete overhaul on offense if they want to return to the title game. The majority of their skill-position players from 2018 have graduated. Defensively, DT Kion Marshall returns for the Wildcats. He made 20 tackles for loss a season ago.
All-CIF linebacker Billy Hennessy returns to a San Dimas team that advanced to the Division 8 quarterfinals last season. The senior recorded 20 tackles for loss last year and had nine sacks. Running back Nicholas Cuda is also back for the Saints. He rushed for 639 yards and five scores in 2018. He’ll split carries with Jacob Buccola.
Highland went into the 2018 Division 10 championship game with a 13-0 record, but lost 35-18 to a loaded Eisenhower team. All seven of Highland’s all-CIF selections have graduated, but second-year head coach Richard Lear still plans to contend.
“[We] lost a lot of seniors in key positions but Highland is reloading, not rebuilding, by any means,” Lear told Scorebook Live California. ” [Our] offense is expected to continue to score a lot of points and [our] physical defense is expected to punish opposing offenses and keep scoring to a minimum.”
RB/S Isaiah Creech and WR/LB Darius Wilson will lead the Bulldogs in 2019.
Bonita lost to Highland in the D-10 semifinals last season 42-27. The Bearcats offense will look very different in 2019 following the graduation of star quarterback JP Andrade who has moved on to Ohio State. Star receiver Aalias Williams is back though. He caught 83 passes for 1,247 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. Williams also plays defensive back. Kenny Coulson will anchor a Bearcats defense that returns five total starters. He made 75 tackles a year ago.
Knight went 6-1 in the Golden League last season with their only loss coming to Highland. The Hawks advanced to the D-10 quarterfinals before losing to El Rancho 56-52. Looking to 2019, Knight returns just four total starters. RB Alveyon Rankin and CB Cruz Johnson are the players to watch for the Hawks.
North (Torrance) lost in the Division 9 semifinals 28-19 to Brea Olinda last season. Stephen Bradford rushed for 1,863 yards and 22 touchdowns as a junior in 2018. He should have another monster season as a senior.
Hillcrest fell to Bonita 45-40 in the quarterfinals of the Division 10 playoffs a year ago. Quarterback Camren Payne returns for his junior season after throwing 17 TDs as a sophomore.
This season, quarterback Nick Hernandez will be the starter from the get-go for Monrovia. A year ago, the Wildcats began the season 0-3 before giving Hernandez a shot. From game four and on, Hernandez led Monrovia to a 5-2 record and a spot in the Division 9 playoffs.
In a June interview with MonroviaWeekly.com, Hernandez discussed the upcoming season. “This year I think we can really win our division of CIF,” he said. “We have great athletes.”
Injuries forced Sultana to use both Angelo Mastandrea and Nathaniel Glass under center in 2018. The duo led the Sultans to the Division 8 playoffs where they lost in the first round to eventual champion Kaiser 41-24. Both players return for 2019.
La Quinta went 4-7 a year ago and made the Division 7 playoffs. The Blackhawks return seven starters on offense and five on defense. Head coach Patrick Rivenes hopes to build on last year’s playoff berth.
“We should have a balanced offense with a defense that will do better against the pass this year,” Rivenes told Scorebook Live California. “We did lose some experience on the field, but we added more size on our offensive and defensive lines and our defensive secondary has improved.”
Dual threat quarterback Christian Egson will try and lead the Blackhawks back into the playoffs in 2019.
Foothill went 4-7 a year ago, but made the D-9 playoffs after winning the North Hills League. Head coach Doug Case expects to win the league again.
“[We] should defend our league title,” he told Scorebook Live California.”[We’re] returning most of our starters except at LB and QB/WR but have more than adequate replacements.”
Wide receiver Gabe Gallardo and running back Roman Pistone lead the offense. Safety Jack Holcomb leads the defense.
LA SALLE TURNS TO BUYS
La Salle went 0-10 last season and parted ways with their coach. Ben Buys was hired this offseason after spending the last nine years at Azusa Pacific University and he’s ready to turn things around.
“It should look much different than it did last year,” Buys told Scorebook Live California.
Freshman quarterback Richard Munoz will most likely start under center. He’s young but very talented.
Receiver LJ Holmes transferred in from Dorsey and will contribute. Marcus Powe will catch passes from Munoz as well.
Defensively, Warren Fowler (DB/LB), Corbin Jones (DB), Todd Rodriguez (DE) and Tim De La Mora (LB) are the names to remember.
3 GAMES TO WATCH
PROJECTED TOP 5
Here are our projected top-5 teams in Division 9, in order of how we think they’ll finish: