On the surface, Kaiser suffered devastating losses from its CIF-SS Eastern Division semifinalist team of a year ago, with running back/defensive back and all-Sun Player of the Year Anthony Brown heading off to USC and All-CIF linebacker Josh Shirley now at Washington. But you don’t win nine straight Sunkist League titles, as the Cats have, without having the ability to reload.
“We lost two great football players, guys that really were big for us last year,” Kaiser coach Phil Zelaya said. “We don’t have those guys coming back, but two guys do not make a football team. We feel that we have a lot of guys coming back that can really help us, guys that were with us on the run to the semifinals last year and that have a lot to offer.”
Kaiser looks equipped for another long playoff run, as they have 13 starters returning from last year’s team and 29 seniors in all. There may not be the high-level recruits a la Brown and Shirley, but the Cats will have their typical hardnosed, physical, well-schooled unit ready to go.
“We are disappointed that we lost (41-0 to Palm Springs) to end last season and we are disappointed about how it went down, but I think we can learn from it,” Zelaya said. “There’s a standard that has been set for Kaiser football and we know we are going to get everyone’s best shot, so we have to work hard and play tough.”
Even without Brown, who ran for 1,681 yards and 18 touchdowns, the Cats should be all right at running back. Kaiser has three returning seniors – Davonte Manning (5-11, 185), Jimmy Awolesi (5-11, 175) and Riley Williams (5-8, 180) – that got time last year and return starting quarterback David Bedran (5-11, 200). Kaiser keeps to the ground typically, but Dwayne Brown (5-10, 175) gives them a target at wide receiver.
Kaiser, as always, will be strong up front. They have size along the offensive line with Aiseah Hansen (6-4, 315) and Nick LeFay (6-0, 240). Junior Nick Aguirre also adds size along the offensive line, while Xavier Evans (6-0, 275), Walter Earnest (6-2, 245) and Les Young (6-1, 250) form a formidable defensive line.
The Cats’ two best players might be in their back seven, as linebacker Dennis Taylor (6-0, 230) and safety Desman Carter (6-1, 195) are getting attention from Division I schools. Manning and Awolesi will also see time in the secondary alongside Carter, as will Brown.
Kaiser 2010 schedule (Home games in CAPS, * indicates league game)
Sept. 10 – BARSTOW
Sept. 17 – at Riverside North (King HS)
Sept. 24 – CAJON
Oct. 1 – at Palm Desert
Oct. 8 – HESPERIA
Oct. 15 – JURUPA VALLEY*
Oct. 22 – at Patriot (Rubidoux HS)*
Oct. 29 – at Norte Vista*
Nov. 5 – SUMMIT*
Nov. 11 – at Bloomington*