The evenings are getting shorter and lifeguard whistles have been replaced with school bells. Summer might not be officially over until late September, but for the athletes at La Jolla's three high schools, autumn has already arrived. As varsity teams at La Jolla High School, La Jolla Country Day and The Bishop's School prepare for their seasons, we look at what to expect this fall.
La Jolla High School lost some key players from a team that went 6-4-1 last season, but Vikings Coach Dave Ponsford thinks he has a good nucleus around which to build.
Senior quarterback Robet Sagerian will direct the offense after transferring from Serra High School. He'll throw mostly to juniors Igor Cerbia and Blake Shelburne as well as senior Chris Jones. Russell Youngblood should get most of the carries at tailback, as he rushed for 1,100 yards last season.
He'll run behind an experienced offensive line that includes center Jeremy Watson, strong-side tackle Lucas Triley and guard Amar Albassam.
Defensively, the Vikings should be led by senior outside linebacker Mike Maracle, who already has scholarship offers coming from Division I colleges. Senior Moose Halpern is expected to start at middle linebacker, while seniors David Cravens and Matt Estes should be standouts in the defensive backfield.
Ponsford is also excited about the team's kicking game, as defending Western League Kicker of the Year Carlos Corona is being challenged by Brooks Beckman and Andres Liera.
Mission Bay, Serra and Point Loma could be the teams to beat.
"We're in a really competitive league, but hopefully we can compete for a league championship," Ponsford said. "We're usually pretty smart and tough. We can't get by on our talent alone."
La Jolla Country Day will take a big step this season with its move from eight-man football to the traditional 11-man game for the first time. The Torreys won their third straight CIF-San Diego Section title last year, so they appear ready for the move.
Still, there will almost certainly be an adjustment period. Country Day will rely on a group of returning players to make a smooth transition.
Sammy Morris is expected to move into the starting quarterback role and hand off to first-year starter Lance Rutledge. Morris' stable of receivers and ends will include Rali Schwartz, Logan Abbott, Alex Maire and Jaime Coleman. Colin Tuck should provide capable lead blocking after moving from guard to tailback.
He should receive good protection from an offensive line that boasts seniors Alex Moir, Chase Mosheni and Rupart Barshop as well as juniors Alex Yanez and Nikil Nagaraj.
Country Day expects to start most of its players both ways, though junior Kevin Ings should crack the lineup at safety.
"Eleven-man football will be a step up for us," said Torreys coach Jeff Hutzler, "but we have a good group returning and we'll be competitive."
The Bishop's School also will be playing 11-man football this year, after two seasons at the eight-man level due to limited interest in the sport at the school. The Knights will re-enter the Coastal League with a team that includes just five seniors.