The 2022 high school football season is here, and San Pedro High can’t even be more excited for it.
Coming up one victory short of the program’s seventh CIF-Los Angeles City Section championship when it lost 24-14 to defending champion Birmingham of Lake Balboa in the Open Division final last November, the Pirates finished 10-2 after setting team passing records and touchdowns in a single season.
2021 also marked the end of the six-year coaching regime of Corey Miller, who chose to step down at season’s end.
A new era is upon San Pedro for 2022, as their season opener against St. Anthony of Long Beach at Mike Walsh Pirate Stadium on Friday, August 19 will start a new coaching realm of former Pirate player Corey Walsh, who is the son of former legendary Pirate coach Mike Walsh.
The energetic Walsh inherits a team that loses much of its offensive firepower from the 2021 team, but still returns several key players on both sides of the gridiron, and adds some young talent from the junior varsity team that went 6-1 last season. All of that was on display during their scrimmage this past Thursday (August 11) at Fairfax of Los Angeles.
San Pedro’s most heralded player coming into this season is senior 6’4’’, 255-pound tight end & defensive end Nicholas Fernandez, who has garnered 16 Division 1 scholarship offers, including two from the Pac-12, two Armed Forces offers (Army & Air Force), and three Ivy League offers.
Trying to fill the shoes of the graduated Aidan Jackson at quarterback, will be a tag team approach with junior Santiago Rivera, a transfer from Wilson of Los Angeles, and sophomore Marcus Jeronimo, who quarterbacked the JV team last season. Both combined to throw for three touchdowns in the scrimmage with Fairfax.
Jeronimo & Rivera will orchestrate a balanced offensive attack that returns Fernandez and senior running back Roman Sanchez, who will also handle punting duties. Several new offensive stalwarts enter the scene like sophomore WR/FS Luka Mardesich, junior WR/CB Robert Marnani, senior WR/DB Laron Tunupopo, & sophomore RB/LB Pete Eneliko.
Defensively, the Pirates were very stingy in 2021 apart from a Marine League opening 48-41 loss to eventual league champion Banning of Wilmington, pitching six shutouts, three of them against the other league adversaries.
Many of the top defensive studs are back, including senior linebacker Makani Konopka, an All-Marine League returner, and senior defensive end Jerry Witty, a CIF-LACS champion wrestler who led the Pirates in sacks last season. Those two along with Fernandez will anchor the defense as the secondary will have all new starters which includes Marnani and senior Matthew Lecona, who also plays wideout.
Both lines are among the biggest in the City Section, and the offensive line in particular, is expected to move opposing defenses back and produce critical yardage for the Pirates. All returning on the offensive line are Andrew Kirkpatrick, Aiden Acap, Jeremiah Gasca and Josiah Vargas, all seniors.
Other than St. Anthony, the Pirates’ 2022 schedule also has intriguing battles outside of Marine League competition, with the most critical one being on Thursday, September 1 at Mike Walsh Pirate Stadium against Venice, who won the CIF-LACS Division 1 title last season. Also, the Pirates have City Section showdowns with South Gate (August 26) & Dorsey of Los Angeles (September 16) plus another intersectional battle on the road at Torrance on September 9.
The annual Battle Of The Harbor showdown at Banning on October 28, if all goes well for both schools, just might be for the Marine League championship, adding to the drama of the rivalry.
SAN PEDRO HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
2022 SEASON SCHEDULE
FRI. 8/19 vs. ST. ANTHONY (7 pm)
FRI. 8/26 vs. SOUTH GATE (7:30 pm)
THU. 9/1 vs. VENICE (7:30 pm)
FRI 9/9 @ Torrance (7 pm)
FRI 9/16 @ Dorsey (7:30 pm)
FRI 9/23 vs. DYMALLY (7:30 pm)
FRI. 10/7 vs. GARDENA (7:30 pm)
FRI 10/14 @ Carson (7:30 pm)
FRI 10/21 vs. NARBONNE (7:30 pm)
FRI 10/28 @ Banning (7:30 pm)