Junior-laden DLS State Team of Year

California's No. 1 team for 2014 is the same one for 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2007, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1996, 1995, 1994 and 1992. Photo: Phillip Walton/SportStars.

California’s No. 1 for 2014 is the same for 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2007, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1996, 1995, 1994 and 1992. Photo: Phillip Walton/SportStars.

The coaches at legendary De La Salle of Concord don’t like to compare championship teams, but we’ve seen them all since 1985 and we don’t mind. The rushing attack, an ability to overcome the loss of key players and the presence of more juniors than usual is what stands out most to us.

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If you were to have said at the end of the 2013 season after De La Salle of Concord had lost in the CIF Open Division state bowl game 20-14 to St. John Bosco of Bellflower that the Spartans of 2014 wouldn’t have mammoth defensive tackle Kahlil McKenzie all season, would not have all-state caliber linebacker Simba Short for virtually all season and would be going with a back-up quarterback in the post-season, would you have also thought that the Spartans were capable of winning a state title in that same Open Division anyway?

It is De La Salle so some of you would say yes. But it was a lot to overcome and thanks to the most overpowering rushing attack in the storied program’s history it was enough to lift DLS past Centennial of Corona 63-42 in last Saturday’s CIF Open Division state bowl game at Carson’s StubHub Center.

Winning the CIF Open Division bowl game didn’t equate to an automatic selection as the Cal-Hi Sports State Team of the Year when that game began in 2008 (when Centennial as the D1 champ got the nod over Sacramento Grant the Open champ) or in 2009 (when DLS as the Open champ edged Servite of Anaheim the D1 winner) but it has been automatic since then and it follows the same pattern this year.

Therefore, just to be official, the Spartans today have once again been named as the State Team of the Year and have been added once again to the all-time list of mythical No. 1 teams in the state that dates back to 1890.

Boss Tagaloa will be one of many starters who will be returning to De La Salle next season. Photo: Mark Tennis.

Boss Tagaloa will be one of many starters who will be returning to De La Salle next season. Photo: Mark Tennis.

One of the biggest obstacles this year’s Spartans had to overcome was the loss of No. 1 quarterback Anthony Sweeney, a junior with explosive skills running the ball and an ability despite being just 5-foot-9 of throwing it accurately. Sweeney missed games early in the season with a bad ankle sprain and missed the end of the season with a dislocated elbow.

It helped at the end of the season that back-up Chris Vanderklught had some starts under his belt at the beginning so by the end he was executing plays efficiently and with no drop in the offense’s ability to drive for scores against any defense.

This year’s DLS offense certainly could drive for scores. With the nine touchdowns generated against Centennial, it was a unit that punted just 11 times all season. The Spartans also finished with 5,665 rushing yards, which is their highest total ever and ranks No. 7 on the all-time state list.

“I’ll leave that to other people, but (scoring) 63 in a state title game is impressive,” head coach Justin Alumbaugh told the Contra Costa Times when asked if this year’s offense was the school’s best ever. “People can talk about it, but I don’t know. I just know these guys are really good.”

Both Antoine Custer and Andrew Hernandez had banner years running behind an offensive line led by Boss Tagaloa, Drew Sullivan and Blake Ogburn. Custer had 31 carries for 273 yards and four TDs against Centennial to end with 1,952 yards and 24 TDs. Hernandez had 26 carries for 175 yards and three scores in the state final and finished with 1,807 yards and 30 TDs.

Tagaloa is a 6-foot-3, 305-pound junior who further cemented himself as a top national recruit for next season. But he’s not going to be the only big-time junior coming back for De La Salle. Both Custer and Hernandez, along with both Sweeney and Vanderklught, along with 6-foot-5, 250-pound tight end/defensive end/quarterback Devin Asiasi will all be back.

Almost all of the defensive line also was comprised of juniors and it was that lack of experience, according to defensive coordinator Terry Eidson, that made it more difficult to slow down Centennial.

The De La Salle defense also was without the Northwestern-bound Short other than for most of the game against Servite of Anaheim due to injuries.

McKenzie, a Tennessee commit, never suited up for the DLS defense this year at all when he left the school to go over to nearby Clayton Valley of Concord where he was unable to gain eligibility.

And while the defense did get a shutout in the CIF North Coast Section Division I final against Pittsburg, it was vulnerable to big plays not just against Centennial but also in games against Servite and Byrnes of Duncan, S.C.

Still, with the game on the line against Centennial, the DLS defense finally did come through by getting three straight turnovers that helped put the game out of reach for the Huskies.

It also may have aided in De La Salle’s eventual final No. 1 ranking in the state for this season that there was no CIF Northern California Open Division regional bowl game.

There’s little doubt given what did happen when the Spartans played Folsom both in 2012 and 2013 that they should be ranked higher in 2014, but this year’s 16-0 Folsom team that beat Oceanside 68-7 in the CIF Division I state bowl game was obviously much stronger and may have been able to get past De La Salle if there had been another regional bowl game.

Congratulations to Alumbaugh, Eidson, all of the other assistant coaches (including that one in the press box who was shown way too many times on TV) and to all the players at De La Salle of Concord, the 2014 Cal-Hi Sports State Team of the Year.

Sean McGrew from last year's No. 1 team at St. John Bosco darts for daylight in last year's CIF Open Division final vs. De La Salle. Photo: Scott Kurtz.

Sean McGrew from last year’s No. 1 team at St. John Bosco darts for daylight in last year’s CIF Open Division final vs. De La Salle. Photo: Scott Kurtz.


(Last 103 years listed, but it goes back further than that to 1891 in our files, as compiled from 1891 to 2003 by the late Nelson Tennis)

2014 — Concord De La Salle (16-0)
2013 — Bellflower St. John Bosco (16-0)
2012 — Concord De La Salle (15-0)
2011 — Concord De La Salle (13-1)
2010 — Concord De La Salle (14-0)
2009 — Concord De La Salle (13-2)
2008 — Corona Centennial (15-0)
2007 — Concord De La Salle (13-0)
2006 — Westlake Village Oaks Christian (15-0)
2005 — Ventura St. Bonaventure (14-0)
2004 — Mission Viejo (14-0)
2003 — Concord De La Salle (13-0)
2002 — Concord De La Salle (13-0)
2001 — Concord De La Salle (12-0)
2000 — Concord De La Salle (13-0)
1999 — Concord De La Salle (12-0)
1998 — Concord De La Salle (12-0)
1997 — Concord De La Salle (12-0)
1996 — Concord De La Salle (12-0)
1995 — Concord De La Salle (13-0)
1994 — Concord De La Salle (13-0)
1993 — Rialto Eisenhower (14-0)
1992 — Concord De La Salle (13-0)
1991 — Santa Ana Mater Dei (13-1)
1990 — Merced (14-0)
1989 — Fontana (14-0)
1988 — Carson (12-1)
1987 — Fontana (14-0)
1986 — El Toro (14-0)
1985 — Vista (13-0)
1984 — Riverside Poly (13-1)
1983 — Mountain View St. Francis (13-0)
1982 — Anaheim Servite (11-1)
1981 — San Jose Bellarmine (12-0)
1980 — Wilmington Banning (12-0)
1979 — Huntington Beach Edison (12-2)
1978 — Visalia Mt. Whitney (13-0)
1977 — Rancho Cordova (12-0)
1976 — Wilmington Banning (12-1)
1975 — Rancho Cordova (11-0)
1974 — Vista (13-0)
1973 — Hacienda Heights Los Altos (12-1)
1972 — Santa Fe Springs St. Paul (13-0)
1971 — Carson (12-0)
1970 — La Puente Bishop Amat (12-1)
1969 — Pasadena Blair (13-0)
1968 — Alameda (9-0)
1967 — Anaheim (12-1)
1966 — Pico Rivera El Rancho (13-0)
1965 — San Jose Bellarmine (9-0)
1964 — Stockton Stagg (10-0)
1963 — Los Angeles Loyola (12-0)
1962 — Los Angeles Loyola (12-0)
1961 — Monterey (8-0)
1960 — Redwood City Sequoia (9-0)
1959 — Long Beach Poly (11-0)
1958 — Long Beach Poly (11-0-1)
1957 — Berkeley (8-0)
1956 — Downey (12-0-1)
1955 — San Diego (11-0-1)
1954 — Vallejo (9-0)
1953 — Santa Monica (10-0-1)
1952 — Santa Monica (11-0-1)
1951 — Pomona (12-0)
1950 — Compton (11-1)
1949 — Compton (10-1)
1948 — Long Beach St. Anthony (11-1-1)
1947 — L.A. Washington (8-0)
1946 — Alhambra Keppel (8-0)
1945 — Santa Ana (11-1)
1944 — Alhambra Keppel (8-0)
1943 — Redondo Beach Redondo (6-0)
1942 — La Verne Bonita (11-0)
1941 — Piedmont (9-0)
1940 — Piedmont (8-0)
1939 — Alhambra (10-0)
1938 — Stockton (8-0)
1937 — L.A. Manual Arts (8-0)
1936 — L.A. Manual Arts (8-0-1)
1935 — Long Beach Poly (9-0)
1934 — Piedmont (8-0)
1933 — S.F. Galileo (8-2-1)
1932 — Inglewood (10-2)
1931 — Santa Ana (13-0)
1930 — Berkeley (11-0-1)
1929 — Berkeley (11-0-1)
1928 — Lodi (9-0)
1927 — Bakersfield (12-0)
1926 — San Mateo (9-1-1)
1925 — Los Angeles (10-0)
1924 — Berkeley (11-0)
1923 — Bakersfield (10-0-1)
1922 — Bakersfield (10-0-1)
1921 — Bakersfield (9-0-1)
1920 — Bakersfield (9-1)
1919 — Long Beach Poly (12-0)
1918 — L.A. Manual Arts (9-0)
1917 — L.A. Manual Arts (11-1)
1916 — San Diego (12-0)
1915 — Pasadena (7-1)
1914 — Pomona Rugby (12-0)
1913 — Pomona Rugby (11-0)
1912 — Berkeley Rugby (7-2-1)
1911 — Los Angeles Rugby (9-0)
1910 — Alameda (5-0)

Corrections or comments? Email markjtennis@gmail.com.

Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at markjtennis@gmail.com. Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports

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  1. sjs
    Posted December 24, 2014 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    I absolutely believe Folsom should be considered for Team of the Year. 16 running clock games, destroyed CC, Grant and Oceanside (both Grant and Oceanside were # 5 in the state coming in). Dominent on both sides of the ball. Set national offensive records, defense starters allowed 7 pts a game and much more. DLS had a great year and beat Centennial but considering who Folsom is compared to last year, while DLS is DLS, I think Folsom should get the nod . They are probably the most complete team nationally.

    I also find it interesting that DLS is almost always state team of the year if they win. You might make the argument that the Open Division Champ should win but that isn’t fair because the best team may not be in the Open that year – as I believe was the case this year. I just find it ironic that the one year DLS was not in the Open (2008) you name the winner over DLS (Centennial) that year as state team and pass on Grant despite Grant having beaten 2 out-of-state champs and be considered a huge underdog vs. LBP. It was a shock to the world for Grant to win, a much bigger win than Centennial in that regards and yet, you by pass them because Centennial beat DLS. Bogus.

    • Mark Tennis
      Posted December 25, 2014 at 9:35 am | Permalink

      Of course you wouldn’t pick DLS because you are a Grant fan. Centennial was just better than Grant in 2008 (saw both teams more than once) and had better players. I agree that Folsom might have been better, but we’ll just never know. Why would anyone pick any other team from NorCal over DLS when DLS hasn’t lost to another NorCal team north of Fresno for 23 going on 24 years? Don’t get mad at us. Get mad at the CIF for getting rid of the NorCal regional game. If they hadn’t done that, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

  2. sjs
    Posted December 25, 2014 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    First off, I am not mad..I am just frustrated with the fact that CalHi worships DLS and they do know wrong. Also, I am not a Grant fan I am a Sacramento fan so I go for the team I think has the best chance to win for our area.

    As far as picking a team in NorCal over DLS …I do not believe that just because DLS hasnt last to NorCal opponent means they get an automatic bid…you should look at what that team has done that year. Grant was a huge underdog and put Sac on the map. They beat two out of state champs and LBP. They did so much that year. Things like that should be considered not just “Oh you havent lost to Norcal so you are a guarantee.” I am not saying DLS doesnt deserve it more often than not but if you look at Grant in 08 and Folsom in 14, those are unique and amazing success stories that should merrit State Team.

  3. sjs
    Posted December 25, 2014 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    Oh and one more comment, a national writer for Maxpreps said he saw Folsom DLS and Bishop Gorman this year and felt Folsom had the best defense of the three….another example of why you look at unique years like this and not just guarantee DLS

    • Mark Tennis
      Posted December 26, 2014 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

      I agree on the Folsom defense but MaxPreps didn’t pick Folsom ahead of DLS for this year. No one did. Joe Davidson wouldn’t, either. I didn’t see Gorman in person myself but others on our staff did and I did see them twice on film plus Folsom and DLS both three times. And we didn’t pick DLS ahead of Grant in 2008. We ranked Grant higher. We just didn’t pick Grant No. 1 in the state and if you check out Corona Centennial for that year they just had better players (a few who are now in the NFL). Grant actually should have lost that season to Granite Bay in the playoffs. There were a couple of calls that definitely could have gone the other way and GB would have won.

  4. Reality Calling
    Posted December 29, 2014 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    I’m not sure Folsom played any team ranked inside the top 50 this year?
    How about inside the top 150? Maybe Oceanside ranked 61, but that feels way overinflated.
    Oceanside playoff run not that impressive really:
    Beat #1051 Calrsbad 38-0
    Beat #367 Mission Hills 38-31
    Beat #138 Helix 20-13
    Beat #242 Edison 37-22


    • Mark Tennis
      Posted December 29, 2014 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

      Obviously, we could care less about those computer rankings that you are going by. Helix would probably stomp 50 teams or more “ranked” higher. Same computer also ranked DLS third going into the bowl game. Yeah, that was correct.

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