Senior running back Jarell Sykes (above) will again lead the charge for the San Dimas Saints.
The San Dimas football team is coming off quite the season. The Saints marched all the way to the Mid-Valley title game before falling to Sierra Canyon.
The Saints have more than enough talent to get to another title game, although the Mid-Valley Division is gone and a new playoff alignment is in place.
“I really like what we have,” second-year head coach Mark Holman says. “We have a lot of players that had really great off-seasons. We think we can pick up where we left off.”
Of course the Saints (10-4 in 2015) are going to do what they do well – run the football. And why not when you have a quality back like Jarell Sykes returning. He ran for 2,129 yards and 28 touchdowns last season and was the catalyst of the 12th-ranked rushing team in the state. Oh yeah, Sykes is also a top defensive player.
Among the other returning veterans on offense are senior quarterback Joey Tamayo, senior lineman Abbas Darwiche, a three- year starter, and junior lineman Pablo Donoso.
Holman is also high on junior tight end Andre Zarate, senior wide receiver Josh Marquez, junior running back Noah Maldanado and senior running backs Daniel Jackson and Kai Rodriguez.
“I’m more excited about our offense than I was last year,” Holman added. “We have more options so it doesn’t have to be all one guy.”
On defense Holman will be counting on many of the same players – most notably Darwiche and Sykes.
He singles out junior middle linebacker Dylan Ware as the best pure athlete on the squad.
Other major contributors will include junior lineman A.J. Placentia, senior outside linebacker Evan Haas and senior Anthony Bernal who has excelled at both linebacker and free safety.
Holman is looking for his team to get off to a better start. It was only 2-2 through the first four games last year and one of those was the Smudge Pot loss to Bonita, something else he hopes to avenge.
The Saints also settled for second place in the Valle Vista League behind Northview.
The new season starts on Aug. 26 with that rivalry game at Bonita.
“We haven’t won that in a few years so we’re due,” he said. “For whatever reason we always seem to get off to a slow start. We’d really like to change that.”