2018 Eastern League football preview


Capsule previews for the Eastern League:

CHRISTIAN

Last year: 8-3

Coach: Matt Oliver, 19th year

Division: III

Key players: Owen Easley (QB), Javier Jimenez (RB/LB), Alexander Gonzalez (RB/Slot/S), Bryce Riepl (TE/LB), Garrett Rosenthal (DE), Nathan Lee (C), Duncan Hunter (OT), Jack LaFleur (WR/S), Cody Bostian (LB/G).

Scouting report: After sitting behind Brad Jeremiah for two years, it’s Easley’s turn to run the show and Oliver has confidence in the senior. “I feel like he can play,” said Oliver. There are two excellent targets in Gonzalez and Riepl, who combined for 1,272 yards and 17 TDs last season. The defense is anchored by Rosenthal, a two-time all-league selection, and Riepl. The small private school boasts a 71-17-1 record with three section titles the past seven seasons. Look for more success in 2018.

LA JOLLA

Last year: 6-6

Coach: Tyler Roach, 2nd year

Division: III

Key players: Gabe Solis (Slot/CB), Max Smith (LB/RB), Carsten Fehlan (QB/K), Kevin Zupkas (G), Noah Marquez (RB/LB), Jack Wiese (RB/LB), Finn Rice (WR/S), Diego Solis (S/QB/Slot), Cyrus Varnum (OT).

Scouting report: After accounting for 3,030 yards in total offense and 38 TDs at QB, Trevor Scully has graduated. A pure passer, Fehlan is his likely successor. He’s got plenty of weapons. Gabe Solis racked up 1,081 yards and 10 TDs in receptions. There’s depth and skill at running back. Smith is a talent at linebacker. He led the Vikings with 74 tackles as a freshman. The linebacker corps is deep. Though only a sophomore, Diego Solis anchors the secondary.

MIRA MESA

Last year: 5-6

Coach: Chris Thompson, 1st year

Division: II

Key players: Noah Tumblin (QB), Elijah Thomas (RB/S), Marcus Dean (CB, WR), Malachi Vanta (LB), Javelle Brown (RB/CB), Albert Lemon (WR/P), Ethan Nelson (T/DE), Elijah Lynch (RB/S), Xavier Horrice (LB), Duval Warner (CB).

Scouting report: Thompson returns to Mira Mesa, where he played under Brad Griffith and was an assistant for 22 years under Gary Blevins. The Marauders are loaded at the skill positions. Tumblin compiled 2,902 yards in total offense last season, accounting for 25 TDs. Lynch and Brown are talented RBs. Dean can fly on the outside. Thompson thinks he may have the best secondary in the section. Vanta is a talented LB. Line play and tackling are the biggest question marks.

MORSE

Last year: 5-5

Coach: Tracy McNair, 10th year

Division: III

Key players: Shamar Martin (RB/DB), Courvoisier Irby (G/DT), Rayvon Benson (WR/CB), Jaycob Hicks (S/RB), Shiloh Logan (S), Jefferson Matau (OT/DT), Dejon Miller (QB), Bryzai White (TE), Michael Malauulu (G/DT), Julian Stafford (WR/CB).

Scouting report: In Martell Irby (UCLA) and Tim Patrick (Utah State), Morse loses players who combined to rush for more than 3,000 yards each of the past two seasons. Martin, who has committed to UCLA as a cornerback, will do a lot of the ground work, along with Hicks. For the Tigers to roar, Miller must throw the ball accurately, keeping defenses from loading the line of scrimmage. The secondary is very good. At 6 feet, 280 pounds, Malauulu creates havoc in the line.

UNIVERSITY CITY

Last year: 10-2

Coach: Ryan Price, 4th year

Division: III

Key players: Casey Granfors (WR/S), Gunnar Gray (QB), E’Lonie Rico (RB/LB), Tariq Jefferson (WR/CB), Erik Torres (G/DT), Jurne Smith (WR/CB), Hunter Harrison (LB).

Scouting report: The Centurions have earned semifinal appearances two of the past three years. This year, UC’s aim will be to advance to the section finals for the first time in the program’s 37-year history. Scoring will not be a problem. The 6-3 Gray threw for 2,802 yards and 31 TDs last year as a sophomore. Granfors is one of the section’s best receivers. Rico is a talented back. Jefferson and Smith are excellent pass catchers. “The big question,” said Price, “is youth in the line and them being able to step up.”

Norcross is a freelance writer.



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