The Damien Spartans will start a new season looking for a little redemption. They were 6-5 last season but dropped the last three games last season, including a first round playoff loss to Downey.
Their playoff path was made a lot harder when they blew a big lead late and lost their regular season to Etiwanda 46-42. That resulted in the Eagles getting a better draw and they indeed won their first round playoff game.
“That was a tough way to end the season,” coach Mark Paredes said. “It was too bad because we had a good season. Unfortunately you usually only remember how it ended.”
Rancho Cucamonga and Upland still loom as a formidable 1-2 punch in the Baseline League. But the Spartans could challenge, mainly because of the presence of senior quarterback Warren Bryan who will be in his fourth year as the varsity starter. He threw for 2,825 yards and 25 touchdowns last year, easily leading all Inland Valley quarterbacks.
One of his main targets returns too. That would be senior Mike McCauley who caught 53 passes for 899 yards and six touchdowns.
Perhaps the biggest task for Parades will be finding a running back that can complement the passing game. Last year’s leading rusher managed just 494 yards on the season.
Among the candidates for playing time there are sophomore Jermaine Barner, senior Brandon Correa and junior Cedric Miley with Barner and Miley also probably seeing time in the secondary.
The other good news for Bryan, his backs and everyone else is that Parades expects the offensive line to be the strength of the team this season. That unit includes junior tight end Kyle Thornton, junior guard Mark Garcia, senior guard Parker Elliot, senior tackle Evan Crockett and junior guard Anthony Carrano.
Key players on defense include senior linebacker Mason Burns and junior corner Zahran Manley. The Spartans also got a transfer in senior Jalen Davis who came over from La Salle.
How the Spartans fare may come down to defense.
“That’s my biggest concern because we’re undersized and we don’t have a lot of depth, especially in the secondary,” Pareds said.
Aug. 25 – At Chino
Aug. 31 – Glendora
Sept. 8 – At Claremont
Sept. 15 – Charter Oak
Sept. 22 – At Monrovia
Oct. 6 – Chino Hills
Oct. 12 – At Upland
Oct. 20 – At Los Osos
Oct. 27 – Rancho Cucamonga
Nov. 3 – Etiwanda