Colton getting ready for title defense

Except for an unnecessarily dramatic renewal of head coach Rick Bray’s contract for this upcoming year, the last nine months have been bliss for the Colton High School football team, as the Yellowjackets won their first CIF-SS title since 1978 and have been on cloud nine riding the wave of congratulatory back slaps ever since.

But Bray knows that all the accolades that his team has gotten won’t help it this year. And he knows that a 2010 CIF title puts a big target on his team in 2011, even if he is trying to get creative in deflecting that target.

“The way we see it, Cajon High School should have the target because they were the San Andreas League champs last year,” Bray said. “They have a title that we want. But we do know that teams are going to be shooting for us this year.”

Colton loses several star components from last year’s squad, as all-CIF players Rodney Hardrick, Tyler Ervin, Devan Hussey and John Taylor are currently on college campuses. But the cupboard is hardly empty at Colton, as the Yellowjackets return starters on both lines and a talented secondary.

“We have one of the biggest lines we’ve had here, so we are going to depend on them as far as the offense goes,” Bray said. “I like what we have coming back on the defensive line and the secondary and I hope they’ll help our young linebackers get their feet wet.”

Colton’s offensive line will be strong up the middle, as senior guards Jose Casillas (6-1, 290) and Kenny Shaw (5-9, 250) are returning starters from a year ago. Massive junior Napoleon Taufahema (6-3, 360) transferred in from Bloomington, where he was a starter last year. They’ll pave the way for senior quarterback Daniel Smith (6-1, 175) – the younger brother of former Yellowjacket and Baltimore Ravens first-round draft pick Jimmy Smith – and junior running back Jordan Ah’honi (6-1, 180). Ah’honi ran for 465 yards and four touchdowns while spelling Ervin last season.

Smith, who is being recruited by Division I schools as a cornerback, and Ah’honi will anchor the secondary, while Casillas will also play some defensive line along with seniors Brandon Ceballos (5-9, 210) and Jordan Anderson (6-0, 220). Senior Gabriel Lopez (6-1, 185) is the lone returnee at linebacker.

2011 schedule (Home games in CAPS, * denotes league game)

Sept. 2: SAN DIEGO TORREY PINES
Sept. 9: vs. Riverside North (Riverside CC)
Sept. 22: vs. Summit (Miller HS)
Sept. 30: RIALTO*
Oct. 7: at Carter*
Oct. 14: ARROYO VALLEY*
Oct. 21: SAN BERNARDINO*
Oct. 28: at Cajon*
Nov. 4: at Pacific*
Nov. 10: SAN GORGONIO*