Experienced Cavaliers gear up for banner season

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Last season, Serra High’s young football team started out slow with non-league losses to three premiere teams, then came back to win seven straight, including its fourth consecutive Del Rey League title. The Cavs, however, lost in the first round of the prestigious CIF-Southern Section Division I playoffs to Santa Margarita from the premiere Trinity League.

This year, the Cavaliers return 16 starters and are loaded with experienced seniors.

Last season, Serra High’s young football team started out slow with non-league losses to three premiere teams, then came back to win seven straight, including its fourth consecutive Del Rey League title. The Cavs, however, lost in the first round of the prestigious CIF-Southern Section Division I playoffs to Santa Margarita from the premiere Trinity League.

This year, the Cavaliers return 16 starters and are loaded with experienced seniors.

Serra’s offense will be highlighted by three returning wide receivers that include senior Kobe Smith, who was named the 2016-2017 California Junior Athlete of the Year as he led the Cavaliers to the league football title and a second place finish in the Del Rey League for boys’ basketball.
Smith is being recruited by several Major NCAA Division I colleges.

Two other top receivers is standout football-baseball athlete John Jackson, and Bryan Addison, both seniors.

Serra also brings back four starters on its offensive line, including seniors Vatu Sinau, Elijah Thomas, Noah Baez and Adam Swearingen, to help cover one of its very few underclassmen, but a good one in junior quarterback Blaze McKibben.

McKibben could be competing with sophomore Doug Brumfield.

The Cavaliers’ running game will be led by seniors Mason Bower and Kailen Thomas. Both are returning players, who were in backup roles.

Serra, which ended its season at 7-4 in 2016, also returns several key starters on defense, including outside linebacker Merlin Robertson, lineman Sinfita Tupe, along with defensive backs David Eure, Addison and Max Williams.

The Cavaliers also have transfers on defense, including lineman Jalen Rudolph from Louisiana, along with backs Greg Oliver from Las Vegas Bishop O’ Gorman (a national football powerhouse), and Deland McCullough from Indiana.

“We have a lot of real good returners in skilled positions,” Serra head coach Scott Altenberg said. “We have a lot of talent, but we play a tough schedule.”

The Cavaliers will continue to play in the Division I, led by Santa Ana Mater Dei that is the preseason No. 1 squad in the United States by Maxpreps, defending California State Open Division champion Bellflower St. John Bosco, Corona Centennial, CIF-Los Angeles City power Harbor City Narbonne and Long Beach Poly, all nationally ranked squads in the 2017 preseason poll.

Serra will get a taste of some of it in preseason and its non-league finale. The Cavaliers open the season at Narbonne Friday at 7 p.m. and, as usual, the Gauchos are loaded. Narbonne returns preseason All-American quarterback Jalen Chatman, who already signed at Rutgers University in New Jersey. Narbonne did lose two very good wide receivers in Tre Walker and Stephon Robinson, along with running back Kameron Denmark, but received a big break with two very good transfers from Redondo in running back Jemar Jefferson and wide receiver Julian Woodard, who provided the majority of Sea Hawks’ offense that led them into the CIF-Southern Section Division IV quarterfinals.

Serra will, then, play in the Honor Bowl at Cathedral High in San Diego against Hawaii State power Panahou, which happens to be the high school alma mater of former U.S. President Barrack Obama, on Sept. 2 at 4 p.m. Panahou, a private school in Honolulu, is one of Hawaii’s top all-around sports powers.

The Cavaliers come home to host Dorsey on Sept. 8 at 7 p.m. and open the Mission at home against Mission Hills Alemany on Sept. 22.

After finishing league early on Oct. 27 at home against Encino Crespi, Serra will play in its finale at home against Long Beach Poly on Nov. 3.

“We play real tough teams,” Altenberg said. “We’ll see how it goes.”
By Joe Snyder

Sports Editor

Experienced Cavaliers gear up for banner season