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Who will emerge as new Metro-Pacific League champion: Castle Park? Phillip Brents | Fri, Sep 02 2011 12:43 AM

Hans Graham is entering his second year as head coach at Castle Park High School and, while his first season wasn’t bad — a 6-5 overall record and a playoff berth — his second season could be even better.

The Trojans enter the season squarely among the favorites to capture the 2011 Metro-Pacific League title.

“I’ll be honest with you, I will be disappointed if we don’t win the league title this year,” Graham said up front.

Castle Park finished third in last year’s inaugural league standings behind Olympian and Montgomery. Olympian has since departed for the Mesa League, meaning a new league champion will be crowned in 2011.

The Trojans dropped a 21-7 decision to Montgomery in last year’s Warrior Bowl. Both teams have suffered major hits due to graduation and the championship race appears wide open.

Key players for Castle Park this season include a quartet of juniors: defensive back/running back Aaron Leon, linebacker/ fullback Daniel Hernandez, defensive back/wide receiver Nick Martinez and defensive back/running back Nick Rascon.

The team’s linebacker corps is headed by five seniors: Paul Sierra, Edgar and Eduardo Soto, Ricardo Vieyra and Joshua Rosales.

Sierra, an offensive tackle, and Rosales, a center, have the most experience among the returning group. Martinez caught 11 passes for 201 yards last season in an offensive scheme that heavily favored the run. The Trojans scored 24 rushing touchdowns against only two passing TDs.

Leon, among the MVPs named on last year’s junior varsity team, has already received recruiting interest. He scored two touchdowns in an intra-squad scrimmage on Aug. 18.
“I’m looking for him to step up,” the CPHS coach said. “He’s a junior this year and he’s got talent. I’m looking for him to use it.”
Hernandez had one TD in the intra-squad scrimmage. 

The Trojans kick off the season with a Sept. 2 home game against Kearny. Non-league games follow against San Ysidro (away, Sept. 9), San Diego (away, Sept. 16), Hoover (home, Sept. 23), Otay Ranch (home, Oct. 7), Hilltop (home, Oct. 14) and Mar Vista (away, Oct. 21).

Castle Park kicks off league play with an Oct. 28 game at Sweetwater, followed by a Nov. 4 home game against league newcomer Mater Dei Catholic and a Warrior Bowl rematch at Montgomery on Nov. 10.  

The Trojans got off to a fast 5-1 start last season.

“I feel pretty confident about the season,” Graham said. “I think we’ll be OK. I think we can run the ball and pass the ball. But we’ve got to limit our turnovers and mistakes.”

The team that can do all of the above will likely emerge as the Metro-Pacific’s new champion.

Castle Park Trojans 2011 Schedule

2: Kearny at Castle Park
9: Castle Park at San Ysidro
16: Castle Park at San Diego
23: Hoover at Castle Park
30: Bye
7: Otay Ranch at Castle Park
14: Hilltop at Castle Park
21: Castle Park at Mar Vista
28: Castle Park at Sweetwater
4: Mater Dei Catholic at Castle Park
10: Castle Park at Montgomery

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