For the first time in five seasons, the Eastlake Titans football team will not enter a season defending a league title. The Titans finished runner-up to the Olympian Eagles last year before making it as far as the semifinals in the Division I San Diego Section playoffs.
Head coach John McFadden said his team is very motivated this season — both in the quest to regain the Metro-Mesa championship and in concluding another successful run in the CIF playoffs.
“We should be pretty talented — the kids have been working extremely hard,” the EHS coach said.
Top returners include running back/safety Aaron Baltazar, running back/defensive back Tavarus Green, tight end/receiver Joseph Carpizo, linebacker Blake Wilson, running back/corner back Isiah Olave and inside linebackers Nasser Ali and Keifer Graham.
Green, as the 2011 Metro-Mesa Offensive Player of the Year, rushed for 1,113 yards and scored 14 touchdowns (13 rushing) while Olave racked up nine TDs (eight rushing) and Carpizo snagged five touchdown passes.
On defense, Graham led the team with 98 tackles while Baltazar ranked second with 70 hits. Wilson topped the Titans with eight sacks while Olave recorded a team-high three picks.
Wilson and Graham were both first team all-league defensive picks last year.
Impact newcomers include quarterback Ty Stevens and linemen Emilio Rodriguez, Wes Braddock, Devon Ballow and Austin Ortiz.
“We always break up our season into three parts,” McFadden said. “The first part is our non-league schedule in which we stress getting better each game, the second part is our league schedule where we want to do well against our league opponents, with the goal of winning the league title, and the third part is CIF, where we also want to do well at the end of the season.”
The race for the Metro-Mesa title looks to be its most competitive in several years with Otay Ranch fielding one of its strongest teams, Olympian returning to defend its title and a maturing Chula Vista team that looks to wage all-out war on the gridiron.
“We had a pretty good run for a while,” McFadden said. “We didn’t get the job done last year; we hope we can get it done this year. I think the league will be very tough this year. We should be in the running if we stay healthy.”
Eastlake Titans 2012 Schedule
31: Helix at Eastlake, 7 p.m.
7: Eastlake at Scripps Ranch, 6:30 p.m.
14: Eastlake at Escondido, 7 p.m.
21: Steele Canyon at Eastlake, 7 p.m.
28: Eastlake vs. St. Augustine at Mesa College, 7 p.m.
5: Eastlake at Chula Vista, 7 p.m.
12: Rancho Christian at Eastlake, 7:30 p.m.
19: Bonita Vista at Eastlake, 7 p.m.
26: Eastlake at Olympian, 7 p.m.
2: Otay Ranch at Eastlake, 7 p.m.