Shawn Kennedy may have had to recover from a sore neck, too, given the swiveling required to watch the San Dimas High School football team’s aerial attack last season.
The Saints senior, who missed 2010 with a shoulder injury after quarterbacking the team to a CIF-SS championship in 2009, will get to partake in the ramped-up passing game when he returns this year.
Well, maybe nobody needed a neck brace, but by San Dimas standards coach Bill Zernickow called for an extraordinary amount of passes last season. As a sophomore, Kennedy’s Valle Vista League and CIF-SS Mid-Valley Division championship team had 101 more rushing attempts than last year’s team. The Saints team that finished third in league and exited the playoffs courtesy of a 33-point semifinal loss to eventual CIF-SS champ Monrovia last season, had 70 more pass attempts than during Kennedy’s sophomore season.
“Last year we threw it the most we’ve ever thrown it here,” Zernickow said. “This year we’re going to throw it a lot, too. We’ve always known Shawn can do it. We wanted to give him the opportunity as soon as we could.”
Kennedy stood by as the defending champion Saints were derailed by Baldwin Park in the second week of league play last season. But San Dimas was afforded one last shot to claim the title only to fall four points short to eventual league champ Covina, which Zernickow labels the favorite to repeat this season.
San Dimas can’t exactly fly under the radar having been so competitive a year after claiming a CIF-SS title, but Zernickow likened the feel of the 2011 team to the 2009 champions of whom much wasn’t expected entering the season.
Kennedy’s potential to diversify the offense is one of the most compelling reasons to believe the Saints can return to championship form. The quarterback never fully recovered from a baseball injury while senior transfer Codee Watts was under center in 2010. San Dimas, of course, will lean on its Wing-T offense that produced more than 1,000 rushing attempts the last two seasons combined.
Complementing versatile senior wing back Dillon Corona will be a backfield of junior Denzel Mitchell and sophomore Jake Payton, who each gained over 15 pounds in the offseason weigh in at 195 pounds and 180 pounds, respectively. Of the six returning starters on offense – seven, if you count Kennedy – linemen Alex Zenner and Lucas Darling will anchor the offensive front weighing in at a combined 500 pounds.
San Dimas brings back eight starters on a defense that allowed 13.5 points per game in league play last season, including six of the front seven.
“We have the pieces, it’s just the depth that’s a problem,” Zernickow said. “If we stay healthy — which is a big if — we think we’ll be right there where we want to be.”