One of the many reasons why the Stars enjoyed that turnaround is quarterback Tyler Sestich.
Now entering his senior season, the Stars will rely heavily on Sestich to direct their pro-style offensive approach, and in their season opener at Aquinas of San Bernadino, it has already shown major dividends despite the 15-13 loss. In that game, the Stars led on two occasions, but had another touchdown taken away due to a penalty, and missed two field goals which would have played a huge difference in the outcome.
"It was a game we should have won," Sestich said.
Mary Star had a not-so auspicious start to their 2012 season, where they began the season 0-3, with the third loss being a heartbreaking 21-15 loss to St. Anthony of Long Beach, which ended up being the last of what was a 15-game losing streak. In that game, Sestich threw a 60-yard touchdown pass to Joseph Alves on a fourth-and-long play with 48 seconds left that put the Stars to within a point, then they took the lead on a gutsy two-point conversion.
Unfortunately, the Saints scored 30 seconds later to steal the victory.
The losing streak finally came to a halt when the Stars rallied to topple Verbum Dei of Los Angeles, 20-19 just a week later, which began their remarkable turnaround where they won four out of their last six games to secure that CIF-Southern Section playoff spot, placing third in the Del Rey League.
"In 2011, we all worked really hard as a team and the scores didn't reflect the effort we gave all year," said Sestich, recalling the Stars' 0-10 season of 2011. "But in 2012, we worked equally as hard and it felt great to see our hard work and effort translated on the scoreboard. And it wasn't due to any one guy, it was our whole team working hard."
Sestich, who split time with Jeremy Atencio as the starter last season on matchup purposes, was the top passer on Mary Star, who ran the shotgun-heavy spread offense that mainly favored the run. He completed 38-of-75 passes for 437 yard, three touchdowns and seven interceptions. However, the Stars are looking to go more pro-style with their offense where the quarterback is lined up behind the center.
"The pro-style offense fits my style better," Sestich said.
What will also help Sestich tremendously is the fact that every single offensive line starter for the Stars are all in their senior year, and that also includes tight end Neven Skoblar.
Sestich thinks Mary Star should do well enough to challenge La Salle of Pasadena for the Del Rey League title this season and was pretty definitive on who he believes is the Stars' biggest adversary in league competition.
"Bishop Montgomery (of Torrance)," Sestich said. "We haven't beaten them since I've been at Mary Star and they're our rivals. I think we have a great shot at beating them this year."
Mary Star will get their opportunity at the Knights when they travel to Bishop Montgomery on September 27.
Another game the Stars will also be looking forward to is the week before that showdown with the Knights, and that's their home opener against St. Anthony on September 20 at Daniels Field, a place that has produced many great memories for both Mary Star and San Pedro High (until the Pirates opened their new on-campus stadium in October of 2000) for many years.
The atmosphere is electric at Daniels for the Mary Star fans, according to Sestich.
"My dad (John) played for Pedro there and my mom (Nadine) cheered for Mary Star and our traditional walk down the alley is great," said Sestich, who's sister Meagan is a 2009 San Pedro High graduate who once pitched for the junior varsity softball team. "Our fans are great because they're so loud and supportive."
Sestich and Mary Star will face St. Monica of Santa Monica at Palisades High this Saturday.