The San Pedro High football team began the 2013 season with a journey never taken before... a four-hour, 33-minute trip to Morro Bay for their first season opening road game in 18 years, and the Pirates would conquer the trip with an impressive 21-0 victory.
That first game would set the tone for a marvelous year as their experienced defense carried them to an 8-4 season, and the defense was just as impressive in a 12-11 loss to Marine League rival Narbonne of Harbor City, stopping the Gauchos on fourth down twice, forcing a turnover, and even recording two safeties. The season ended with a loss in the CIF-Los Angeles City Section Division I quarterfinals to Venice for the second consecutive season.
One of San Pedro's most enjoyable moments was defeating Harbor Area neighbor Banning of Wilmington, 45-6 on the road which clinched a third place finish in the Marine League.
As the 2014 kicks off, the roles are reversed. This time it's the offense that is the most experienced side of the gridiron, and to make things even more intriguing, San Pedro comes in with a brand-new look as they received new, more stylish looking black jerseys and black pants courtesy of Under Armour.
Gone are your classic black jerseys with the white numbers that made San Pedro so feared over the years when they won five City championships (one shared in 2008), four of which in the 1990's. Now the new jerseys look a little more bold with gold numbers and the black pants have a Pirate logo on the left leg. The road white uniforms are unchanged, but San Pedro will have six games at their home field, the Pirate Stadium, which enters its 15th year.
San Pedro will also play with extra motivation as they enter their first year without longtime coaching staple Jerry Aguilar, the offensive line coach who passed away a month after last year ended.
Coach Mike Walsh enters his 24th season and he returns two All-City players, and several All-Marine League standouts, one of which happens to be Cal-Hi Sports All-State Underclass selection from a year ago, junior WR/DB Antonio 'A.J.' Frazier, who had a solid first year with the program.
Frazier had 59 tackles, an interception, three pass deflections, a forced fumble and a recovered fumble on defense last year which earned him All-Marine League and All-City first team defense honors. He was also a factor on the offensive side rushing for three touchdowns and catching 18 passes for 135 yards and another touchdown to lead all the returning wide receivers. Frazier is also dangerous on special teams with 267 return yards on kickoffs and punts, including an electrifying 47-yard punt return touchdown against Banning.
A deep offensive line returns three All-Marine League seniors in Dominic O'Brien, Tyler Castaneda and Robert Villegas, and they will start alongside three juniors in linemen Robert Quinton and Juan Campuzano, along with junior tight end Mike Spinosa.
Rounding out the offense will be the other skill players, starting with the junior quarterback Jacob Miller, who made All-Marine League second team. A great summer has provided extra experience for the three-year veteran, who had a rocky first year as a starter a season ago (70-for-147 passing, 761 yards, 2 TDs, 12 interceptions). Of course the running game will still be a focal point of attack, and returning All-City second team choice Chris Alvidrez is the most feared runner of the bunch.
Alvidrez, a three-year veteran who is the reigning Marine League Co-Offensive MVP, rushed for 945 yards and 12 touchdowns on 158 carries (6.01 yards per carry), and the power-running senior is tough to bring down on first initial contact. Junior RB Donte Huddleston was the top runner on the JV team last year and he will also look to get his fair share of the carries. Seniors Anthony Bolden and Francisco Flores, along with junior Anthony Fresquez will pace an inexperienced wide receiver stable.
The defense will look to cause chaos for the opposition this season, and other than Frazier, the next to provide the most impact this season will be senior linebacker Chris Lauro, as the All-Marine League first team selection led all returning starters last year with 77 tackles (42 solo), while he also picked up an interception, forced fumble, recovered fumble, and three pass deflections. Senior defensive tackle Luis Lona, another All-Marine League returner, had 55 tackles and three sacks to pace the defensive line.
Lauro will anchor the linebacker corps which also will include junior Noe Lopez and highly touted sophomore Nick Zabatta, a hard-hitter who along with Lopez, anchored the JV team to an 8-2 season last year. Frazier paces the secondary that will also include Flores, sophomore Mikey Hernandez Jr., and junior Christian Michaels, who intercepted three passes in one game at Fairfax last year for the JV team.
Senior Christian Mills replaces the departed Fernando Hernandez as the team's place-kicker, and he'll likely also handle punting duties as well for the Pirates.
One of the key parts for San Pedro this season is the fact that three of their Marine League games against Banning (October 17), Washington (October 24) and Carson will all be at home, but they will get two challenging games on the road at Culver City (September 19) and the league opener at Narbonne (October 10). Of course, the season opener against Morro Bay at home on August 29 will be another good early test.
Going into their 107th season of prep football (including rugby), San Pedro has posted a record of 527-378-38 overall under 21 different coaches.