Fri, Sep 02 2011 01:01 AM Posted By: Phillip Brents
The San Diego Section Division V football field has undergone realignment this season that should provide members schools with a bit more parity — at least during regular season play.
The Southern League has been reduced to four teams: Chula Vista’s Calvary Christian Academy, Julian, Borrego Springs and San Pasqual Academy.
It would appear that in any given year any of the four teams could easily claim the league title. Calvary Christian finished 6-5 last season with a trip to the Division V playoffs and could be fielding the best team in the school’s history this season.
Julian is the only remaining founding member of the small school-enrollment league.
Foothills Christian moves over to the newly created Manzanita League along with former Pacific League members Mountain Empire, Holtville, Calipatria and Vincent Memorial.
Former Southern League member San Diego Jewish Academy fills part of the vacuum in the Pacific League by moving there along with Calvin Christian and the Rock Academy as former Pacific League member La Jolla Country Day moves over to the more competitive Coastal League.
The section’s eight-man membership has undergone extensive expansion and now includes seven teams. Lutheran, Kuyper Prep and Ocean View Christian Academy are all based in the South Bay. Other Sunset League members include Escondido Classical Academy, Maranatha Christian, Vista Calvary Christian and Warner Springs.
Kuyper Prep defeated Warner Springs, 21-16, to capture the 2010 regular season Citrus League title but dropped a 60-14 playoff rematch.
OVCA (formerly Midway Baptist) competed as an independent last year, finishing 7-3 overall but with a 4-0 record against eight-man teams.
Despite the extensive league realignments, Division V’s two marquee teams remain the Bishop’s Knights and Francis Parker Lancers — both, interestingly, quarterbacked by South County residents. Joey Moreno, who led the Knights to last year’s Small Schools State Bowl championship, lives in Chula Vista. Francis Parker signal-caller Gabe Harrington is an Eastlake resident.
Bishop’s defeated Francis Parker, 20-9, to win last year’s Division V section title. The Knights then went on to top Stockton Brookside Christian, 40-14, amid soggy conditions at the Home Depot Center in Carson.
Moreno passed for more than 2,000 yards and fired 18 touchdowns in 2010. Harrington is moving into the starting position for the Lancers this season.
Running back/linebacker Jesse Brookins is another key South Country product in Francis Parker’s arsenal.
The Lancers, who were bitten by the injury bug at inopportune times last season, finished a deceiving 6-7 overall, but rate as the preseason favorite to win this year’s league title ahead of top challengers Christian (led by quarterback Shane Dillon) and Santa Fe Christian.
Bishop’s (a perfect 14-0 in 2010) will reload amid a year racked by massive losses to graduation on both sides of the ball. Park View Little League and Chula Vista North Pony baseball standout Bulla Graft joins the Knights this season as a running back.
Gone is Alec Fisher, who tied a state bowl record with five TDs last season.
“I think we’ll have a really good shot at making it back,” Harrington said. “We’re young but working hard and learning fast. I think we’ll have some success.”
The Division V championship game is scheduled Dec. 9 at Southwestern College.
Ocean View Christian Academy returns to 8-man level
The Ocean View Christian Academy Patriots played a freelance schedule in 2010, finishing 7-3 against a mixture of eight-man and 11-man squads. The Patriots return to the eight-man ranks this season, and could enjoy much success. OVCA went 4-0 against eight-man squads last season.
Top returners include junior quarterback/safety Andres Perez, senior defensive end/tight end Joseph Alexander, senior receiver/safety Elijah Carunana, senior guards/tackles David Ledesma and Josh Ollier, junior running back Joshua Smith, sophomore fullback/linebacker Raul Rodriguez and sophomore guard/tackle Daniel Ramirez.
Smith led the team last year in both solo tackles (62) and rushing yards (878). Rodriguez ranked second in rushing yards (317) as a freshman.
The Patriots’ team strengths include a committed core of players. But because of the school’s small enrollment size, the team’s weaknesses naturally center on a limited number of available players.
OVCA lost three of its four top tacklers to graduation and will be depending on younger players to fill those roles immediately.
The keys to a successful season will hinge on a balanced offense, the team’s traditionally tough defense and incurring few injuries.
"With only 14 players, everybody knows that a couple key injuries can make your team on the field a whole lot different," OVCA athletic director Matt Horton said. "We will focus on smart, disciplined play and preparation in hopes of a low injury rate."
© 2009 The Star-News