On Saturday, High School Football America will release its Preseason Top 25. Between now and then, we’ll take a look at some of the top teams that are vying for spots in our national rankings.
Today we head to California to check on the De La Salle Spartans.
California’s Open Division championship game could be renamed the De La Salle Open Division Championship Game, since the Spartans have played in six straight Open Division titles games, winning five of them. The fact of the matter is, the Spartans haven’t missed playing in a state title game since the California Interscholastic Federation instituted the season-ending Championship Bowl Games in 2006. Overall, DLS has has won six state titles.
On top of that, De La Salle has won 23 straight North Coast Section titles, which could make for an argument that Webster’s should put the Spartans’ logo next to the word consistency in the dictionary.
Heading into 2015, there’s little doubt that the program that once won a record 151-straight games, will be a contender again.
Actually, with a lot of last year’s team that defeated Corona Centennial in the championship game and finished #2 in the High School Football America Top 25 back, the Spartans will be in the hunt for another state title and a “mythical” national championship. The Spartans have won USA Today’s Super 25 “mythical” national crown six times — 1994, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003.
Depth in the backfield makes De La Salle the cream-of-the-crop in California this season.
Running backs Andrew Hernandez and Antoine Custer are back after combining to rushing for more than 3,700 yards and 54 touchdowns last year. Add to that three quarterbacks that played a significant role in last year’s 14-0 season are back and you have the makings of a team that offensively will grind teams into the ground.
Quarterback Anthony Sweeney, who went-down early in the season, is back after going down last October with an elbow injury. Sweeney will be the team’s starting QB. Also back is Sweeney’s replacement, Chris Vanderklugt, who went down with a hip injury late in November, which opened the door for 6-5, 260-pound tight end Devin Asiasi to hand the ball off to Hernandez and Custer. With all, three of his quarterbacks back, head coach Justin Alumbaugh isn’t worried about an injury at his signal caller position.
Alumbaugh, who’s a De La Salle alum, has been the perfect replacement for the legendary Bob Ladouceur, who stepped-down after the 2012 season with 399 victories.
How perfect? Well, at 28-1, Alumbaugh’s almost perfect as the program’s head coach.
Since 1979, De La Salle is an incredible 427-26-3.
Up-front, De La Salle will have to replace graduated seniors Drew Sullivan, Matt Mederios and Blake Ogburn, but that shouldn’t be a problem for the run-oriented program that has spent four decades punishing opponents with its run game.
While the offense will be its usual self, the Spartan defense could be punishing with Boss Tagaloa and Asiasi up-front. Tagaloa is USA Today High School Sports‘ 61st best prospect in its composite rankings; Asiasi is ranked #64.
The Spartans will get tested in Week 1 when they travel to Texas to take-on powerful Euless Trinity. In addition, DLS will play Southern California Trinity League teams Orange Lutheran and Servite, along with Long Beach Poly.