Zelaya era starts at Kaiser

Since opening in 1998, Kaiser has known one football coach – Dick Bruich. The legendary coach quickly turned the Cats into a Sunkist League and Eastern Division power, leading the Cats to two CIF-Southern Section titles and eight Sunkist League titles before retiring after this past season with 292 victories.

So with Bruich riding off into the sunset, does that mean that Kaiser’s Sunkist dominance will do the same? While its impossible to tell in the long term, the answer in the short term seems to be no. Kaiser’s new coach, Phil Zelaya, was Bruich’s longtime defensive coordinator and retaining most of the coaching staff from a year ago, so there shouldn’t be much transition.

Bruich was also nice enough to leave Zelaya with a stacked roster headlined by two of the best Division I prospects in the county – running back/defensive back Anthony Brown and defensive end Josh Shirley. Brown committed to USC over the summer while Shirley has his pick of most of the name programs in the country, with USC, UCLA, Notre Dame and Tennessee being among his many suitors.

Brown, who spilt carries with Adam Ramirez the last two seasons, will see a lot of work on the offensive end this season, especially with some uncertainty at quarterback. Gone is steady, if not spectacular, Richard DeLuna and in his stead are two untested options in senior Adrian Herrera and junior David Bedran. While Kaiser isn’t going to throw very much, a threat of the pass would make it inifinitely easier for Brown to do his thing.

With Zelaya having a defensive background, there won’t be much of a change in Kaiser’s defensive philosophy. The Cats will be physical, they will be well-schooled and they won’t give up many points. And in Shirley, who led the county with 17 sacks and is the younger brother of former Kaiser standout and current Cincinnati Bengals offensive lineman Jason Shirley, they have an elite player that can disrupt things in the backfield and open up his teammates to make tackles.

Brown will also help out in the defensive backfield and will be important against teams like Summit and Bloomington, who will spread things out, but besides the guy wearing the main headset, not much is going to change in regards to Kaiser football in 2009.

Kaiser’s schedule (Home games in CAPS, league games with *)

Sept. 11 – at Apple Valley
Sept. 18 – RIVERSIDE NORTH
Sept. 25 – at Cajon
Oct. 2 – COLONY
Oct. 9 – COLTON
Oct. 16 – RIVERSIDE PATRIOT*
Oct. 23 – RIVERSIDE NORTE VISTA*
Oct. 29 – vs. Summit (Miller HS)*
Nov. 6 – BLOOMINGTON*
Nov. 13 – at Jurupa Valley*