Most Viewed Stories
Kickoff 2012: Freeway League preview
Find the coaches' poll, individual previews for all six schools, players and teams to watch and much more.
(Click on the links below to find previews for the individual schools.)
1. La Habra 9-4 in 2011, 34 poll points
2. Troy 7-4, 24
2. Buena Park 8-3, 24
4. Sonora 4-7, 20
5. Fullerton 3-7, 16
6. Sunny Hills 2-8, 8
IN THE SPOTLIGHT:
La Habra. Could this be the year that the Highlander stranglehold on this league finally comes to an end? Aaron Porter and Brett Bartolone, two key plyers from the school’s impressive championship-winning dynasty, have graduated, moving on to UCLA and Washington State respectively. Last year, Porter, the Register’s Male Athlete of the Year, not only led the Highlanders’ defense, but he also made a huge impact on offense as well, rushing for 780 yards and 17 touchdowns on 89 carries. As for Bartolone, he caught 50 passes for 643 yards and rushed for 924 yards on 139 carries. This season, Coach Frank Mazzotta still has a lot of questions to answer on his offense. Right now, he still doesn’t know who his two running back will be, and he also still has to pick another receiver. But the Highlanders still can’t be counted out of the championship race just yet. They return Sean Sparling at quarterback and last season he averaged 117.4 yards passing a game. And they also have an experienced defensive line led by tackle Greg Gaines. He’s the strongest player on the team, benching 345 pounds, and the 6-foot-1 junior has received an early offer from Colorado.
Buena Park. The Coyotes are a very young team as four sophomores and 13 juniors are projected to be in the starting lineup on offense and defense. But they do have some speed, especially at running back. Hakeem Williams, a 5-foot-8, 185-pound senior, clocks in at 4.44 second in the 40-yard dash.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Sean Sparling: He’s arguably the best quarterback in the Freeway League. As a junior, he completed 125 of 191 passes for 1,526 yards and 17 touchdowns, making him the second-ranked QB in the league behind Buena Park’s J.J. Christy. Both he and Christy were the only quarterbacks in the league to throw for more than 1,000 yards last season.
Nate Fleming: The linebackers are among Troy’s strengths this season, and largely because of this 5-foot-10 205-pound senior. Last year, he finsihed with 63 tackles and 12 sacks from outside linebacker. But he also emerged as a talented running back for the Warriors, gaining 260 yards on 30 carries.
OTHER TOP PLAYERS:
Buena Park: RB, Deven Boston; RB, Hakeem Williams; DE, Skylar Clayton; CB, Taylon Scott; SS, Adonay Gutierrez; TE, Evi Moa
Fullerton: QB, Scott Llyod; DT, Chris Salazar; SS, Deryk Flecher; RB, Jesus Nodarse
La Habra: DT, Greg Gaines; TE, Brady Abbott; TE, Alex Bush; DE, Tristian DeLaRosa; DT, Mike DeArmond; DE, Adrian Lomeli
Sonora: QB, Kyle Mahlstede; RB, Matthew Villasenor; T, Dustin Sanford; OLB, Salvador Chavez; TE/DE, Brandon Chandler
Sunny Hills: QB, Kaleb Slaven; RB, Patrick Murano; WR, George Bushala; C, Matt Kim; TE, Griffon Simonton
Troy: RB, Dallas Parent; DT, Nick Mora; LB, Nick Mauritsakis; OLB, Trent Matthews; MLB, Joey Gutierrez;
MARK YOUR CALENDAR:
La Habra vs. Orange Lutheran, Sept. 14, at Orange Coast College, 7:30 p.m. Sunny Hills vs. Fullerton, Oct. 5, at Buena Park High, 7 p.m.; La Habra at Troy Oct.5, 7 p.m.; Sonora at Troy, Oct. 19, 7 p.m.; La Habra at Buena Park, Oct. 26, 7 p.m.; Troy at Fullerton, Oct. 26, 7 p.m.; Sonora at La Habra, Nov. 2, 7 p.m.
La Habra. They have taken it a bit easy this year, leaving perennial state championship contender Servite off the schedule this season. But the Highlanders still will face a couple of tough foes including Orange Lutheran and St. Paul.