The Baseline League is noted for tough competition top to bottom, no matter what the sport. But when it comes to football there are few better.
Damien was thrown into the mix last year. It was tough going for the Spartans who settled for fifth, finishing 4-6 overall and 1-4 in league play with that lone win coming over Los Osos.
They’re hoping for a better showing the second time around.
“We definitely learned a lot,” third-year coach Mark Paredes said. “We knew going in that all the teams were good and we had to rise to the challenge. Our guys really know now what they will be up against every week.”
Paredes and the Spartans do have two strong factors weighing in their favor and both are on the offensive side of the ball. Senior running back Dylan Thigpen is coming off a season that saw him rush for 1,254 yards and 12 touchdowns, which earned him first-team All-Inland Valley honors. He just got his first offer from Idaho.
The Spartans also have a couple offensive linemen returning, the most notable being senior Liam Ryan, a 6-foot-6, 270-pounder who also played center for the state championship basketball team in the spring. He has a handful of offers from eight schools including Washington State.
Paredes is also excited about the showing of senior guard Evander Achen.
Last year the veteran coach used two quarterbacks – Will Bryan and Mark Boragine. He has settled on the sophomore Bryan as the starter, with Boragine being his backup but also seeing time at wide receiver.
The Spartans also have a couple of receivers who should figure prominently in seniors Chris Gregg and Cameron Record.
The defense will be led by senior linebackers Nicholas Provenzano and Andrew Hernandez.
The defensive line is the biggest concern right now.
“We’re a lot smaller there,” he said. “That’s not to say we don’t have good players there but we’re smaller and more inexperienced.”
The Spartans open the new season on Sept. 4 against Eastvale Roosevelt, which was just 2-8 last year. The first Baseline contest will be at home on Oct. 9 against Rancho Cucamonga.