The Stars would rally from two touchdowns behind to defeat Verbum Dei of Los Angeles, 20-19 to finally put an end to that skid, and they wouldn't stop from there, finishing the regular season on a high note with four wins in their last five games to finish third in the Del Rey League, and qualify for the CIF-Southern Section Northwest Division playoffs.
With a load of experience on a team that only has 29 players, don't expect these Stars to lose their shine for the 2013 season.
Mike Marinkovich enters his third season as the Stars coach, and he will be in charge of a team that has 21 seniors. That alone should be good enough to know that Mary Star will be competitive in a tough league that has La Salle of Pasadena, Bishop Montgomery of Torrance and Cantwell Sacred Heart of Montebello, not to mention the return of St. Bernard of Playa Del Rey, who didn't field a varsity team last season, but their JV team won all seven of their games.
Senior RB Shane Nunez, senior OL/DL Matt Orebo and senior FB/DB James McDonald are returning All-Del Rey League selections for the Stars. Nunez ran for 593 yards on 104 carries and 4 touchdowns for Mary Star last season while Orebo and McDonald will be two of the anchors on Mary Star's defense, that will feature many players playing on both sides of the field.
Senior Tyler Sestich will take over the reigns as the starting quarterback as he threw for 437 yards on 38-of-75 passing and three touchdowns. However you may keep a close eye on junior Derrick Edwards as he too will look to get some time under center. Edwards is the most athletic of the two as a running option, while Sestich is more of a pocket passer.
Regardless of who is taking the snaps, Sestich and Edwards will have first-class protection considering the entire offensive line are senior starters, which includes Orebo (6'0'', 225), Michael Flanagan (6'2'', 270), Bryce Lutz (6'0'', 200) Gilbert Marquez (6'1'', 235) and Steven Mendez (5'1'', 205).
Nunez will pace a talented running back group, while fellow seniors Robert Bruschi, Max Casillas, Jonathan Chacon and Donald Olkie will also look to get their fair share of carries.
When Mary Star does throw, the main receivers to look for are both tight ends. Senior Neven Skoblar, also an All-Camino Real League volleyball standout, is the biggest target at 6'3'', 200 pounds. Junior tight end Josh Lopez (6'2'', 200) is another reliable option.
Orebo, McDonald, Skoblar and Lopez will also all look to do damage as the starters on the defensive line. Olkie, Mendez, Lopez and Chacon are the projected starters at linebacker, while the secondary will feature Bruschi, Edwards and Nunez.
Mary Star will likely have to toughen up fast in the early part of the season considering three of their first four games are on the road, starting with their September 6 opener at Aquinas of San Bernadino. Three of their toughest games in the Del Rey League (Bishop Montgomery, La Salle and St. Bernard) are all on the road as well.
A return to the playoffs seems like the best finish for Mary Star, but the Stars, with all that senior leadership, is capable of more, and the rest of the Del Rey League definitely knows it.