The San Pedro High football team had one of the most remarkable seasons to date in 2014, posting an outstanding 11-2 season, a three-way share of the Marine League championship, and earning a spot in the CIF-Los Angeles City Section Division I semifinal round.
On that night, the Pirates may have lost 33-30 to league foe Carson, but they had their fate in their own hands.
Senior quarterback Jacob Miller had his junior year end with his last desperation pass falling harmlessly to the ground in the end zone as time expired which would have given San Pedro the victory. However, both Miller, and the Pirates had nothing to be ashamed of... and it will only motivate them to achieve greater things in 2015.
Good news for San Pedro football fans: several returning members from last year's team, combined with key members from last year's junior varsity team that went 9-1 combine to form a team capable of challenging league rival, and defending CIF-Los Angeles City Section Division I champion Narbonne of Harbor City for both league and City supremacy.
The challenge early on? Only the most difficult nonleague slate in coach Mike Walsh's 25 years as the head coach.
San Pedro will take on the likes of Downey, a CIF-Southern Section Northeast Division runner-up a season ago, in an intriguing August 28 season opener on the road. On a Thursday night, the Pirates once again clash with Roosevelt of Los Angeles on September 3, a CIF-LACS Division I first round rematch that San Pedro won, 28-7. San Pedro will then a short bus ride to another beach city... Redondo Union on September 11, bringing back an old series that was reunited in 2012 and 2013 before they took a year off. The Pirates lost both games to the Sea Hawks by a combined 5 points.
Rounding out the nonleague slate, San Pedro will have back-to-back home games against the only holdovers from last year's nonleague slate, Culver City (September 18) and Fairfax of Los Angeles (October 2). Throw in the fact that three of their five Marine League games (Banning of Wilmington, Washington Prep of Los Angeles, Carson) are on the road in October, that should tell a lot about the 2015 Pirates come playoff time.
Of course, if San Pedro is able to win those first four Marine League games, the season finale on November 6 against Narbonne at home is likely the Marine League championship game, where the Pirates will look to gain retribution from last year's 28-24 loss in the final 80 seconds to the extremely talented and athletic Gauchos.
San Pedro returns three All-City Division I selections from last season, including the reigning City Section Lineman Of The Year in senior tight end Mike Spinosa, who along with senior All-Marine League offensive lineman Juan Campuzano are the only returning line starters from last year's club that set a school record for total rushing yards in a season with 3,299 along with 205 first downs, and an overall 4,779 yards of total offense, good for second all-time in San Pedro football history.
Also, senior WR/DB Antonio 'A.J.' Frazier, an All-City Division I first team defense selection, and the reigning Marine League Defensive Player Of The Year, is back for a third and final year, looking to have a better finish to last year suffering a season-ending injury early on in the Pirates' quarterfinal victory over Arleta.
Frazier had 72 tackles (53 solo), two interceptions, four pass deflections, a forced fumble, a recovered fumble and a sack while also gaining 515 all-purpose yards on rushing, receiving and special teams, rushing for a 60-yard touchdown against Roosevelt last season, and adding another score on a nine-yard reception against Fairfax.
Another All-City Division I selection on second team defense is senior WR/CB Christian Michaels, who along with fellow cornerback mate, All-Marine League first team defensive junior WR/DB Mikey Hernandez Jr., had three interceptions. Frazier, Michaels (5 catches, 107 yards, TD) and Hernandez Jr. (9 catches, 123 yards, TD) are just three of four returning wideouts that Miller can throw to.
Entering his third year as a starter (first three-year starter at quarterback since former City MVP Melvin Yarbrough from the undefeated 1996 City championship team), Miller completed 78-of-155 passes (50.3% completion rate) for 1,476 yards, 14 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. The All-Marine League first team offensive performer's favorite target last season was All-Marine League first team offense junior wide receiver Raymond Geha, who caught 20 passes for 471 yards (23.6 yards per catch) and four touchdowns.
Trying to replace the near 2,000-yard, 31 touchdown combined rushing performance of the 2014 Marine League MVP, City Division I Defensive MVP and News Pilot Prep Football Player Of The Year Chris Alvidrez and Christian Serna is almost improbable, but the Pirates have viable options at running back, as they always do.
Enter Narbonne transfer, senior running back Brian 'Beejay' Halsey, who joined the team late due to the one-month transfer sit out rule last season. Halsey has a fluid running style, running for an 18-yard touchdown in the quarterfinals against Arleta. Not to be outdone is returning senior running backs Joseph 'Jo-Jo' Santiago (35 carries, 285 yards, 8.1 yards per carry, 0 TDs) and Donte Huddleston (23 carries, 137 yards, TD, 6.0 yards per carry). Junior QB/RB/LB Nick Zabatta (31 carries, 253 yards, 3 TDs, 8.1 yards per carry) also gained valuable yardage last year as a wildcat quarterback.
Juniors Richard Villegas, senior Vince Amalfitano and sophomore Adam Swearingen appear to be the front-runners for the other three starting spots in the offensive line.
Spinosa (52 tackles, 3 sacks) will be one of the anchors of the defensive line, along with Huddleston (37 tackles, 2 sacks, blocked punt, fumble recovery) and 6'5'' junior Nicholas Ford. Junior Sohl Gafa (31 tackles), and the senior trio of Vincent Wood (61 tackles, 4 sacks, fumble recovery TD), Jake Rezai (45 tackles) and Noe Lopez (71 tackles, INT) are all returning starters at linebacker. The secondary is just as experienced with Frazier, Michaels (45 tackles, 4 PD, 3 INT, fumble recovery) and Hernandez Jr. (57 tackles, 6 PD, 3 INTs), who is also a skilled punter.
Excelling well in a lot of summer kicking camps, junior Tanner Carcamo will be the latest in San Pedro's full stable of kickers. Carcamo replaces Christian Mills, who booted a 30-yard field goal in the closing seconds to defeat Carson, 17-15 last November, which gave the Pirates a three-way share of the Marine League crown, and the overall top seed of the CIF-LACS Division I playoffs last season.
San Pedro has a lot of talent from last year's 9-1 junior varsity team entering the fray who will all look to make their presence felt.
Junior quarterback Austin Jackson is a more-than-capable backup to Miller. Sophomores RB/DB Sean Davenport, WR/DB Corey Fausto and RB/LB Kai Kaneshiro will figure to get some valuable playing time. Also junior defensive tackle Angel Lupercio, junior RB/DE Rueben Murillo, junior RB/LB Antonio Zanelli and junior WR/DB Chinedu Ofoegbu all played prohibitive roles.
Going into their 108th season of prep football (including rugby), San Pedro has posted a record of 538-380-38 overall under 21 different coaches.