■ Coach: Hunkie Cooper, fourth season (21-10)
■ 2011 record: 7-3 (7-0 Northeast League)
■ Returning starters: Eight offense, nine defense
■ Top players: RB Donnel Pumphrey (Sr.); WR Michael Gayden (Sr.); FB/DT Rayshawn Henderson (Jr.); OT Fabian Leos (Sr.); DB/WR/RB Stephon Revels (Sr.); DB Diamante Luna (Jr.); DB A.J. Cooper (Jr.); OLB Isiah Carter (Jr.); OLB Kentabius Traylor (Sr.); DB Raequon Bascombe (Jr.); MLB Tobias Carson (Sr.)
■ Outlook: The Pioneers have plenty of experience from a team that won the Northeast League title last season before getting bounced by Basic in the first round of the playoffs.
After opening the season with two losses, the Pioneers won seven straight, including an overtime victory over perennial power Las Vegas on the final night of the regular season to win the league.
Pumphrey, who has committed to San Diego State, was a second-team all-state pick after rushing for 1,647 yards and 22 touchdowns last season. He should be one of the area’s most exciting players.
Carson, who was a second-team all-state linebacker and Northeast League Defensive Most Valuable Player, will key what coach Cooper expects to be a solid defense. He’ll get help from fellow All-Northeast picks Traylor, Luna, Revels, Henderson and A.J. Cooper.
Canyon Springs leaned heavily on its sophomore class last season, and with a year of experience, the Pioneers should find themselves in the mix for a league title again.
■ Coach: Brian Castro, second season (5-5)
■ 2011 record: 5-5 (3-3 Southeast League)
■ Returning starters: Four offense, four defense
■ Top players: RB Gino Jonassaint (Sr.); WR Conor Perkins (Jr.); OL Tyrell Crosby (Jr.); OL Robert Carter (Sr.); OL Carter Nielson (So.); OL Greg Rodriguez (Sr.); LB Tyler Topham (Sr.); DL Keti Salakielu (Sr.); LB Shai Gomez-Simmons (Sr.)
■ Outlook: The Gators have a new league, and virtually all new skill players to go with it.
Aaron Love, who rushed for 1,642 yards and 21 touchdowns, will be the biggest loss, but the team also must replace graduated QB Jacob Olim (1,558 passing yards, 16 TDs) and most of the receiving corps.
Green Valley returns four offensive linemen and has plenty of size with Crosby (6-6, 290), Carter (5-11, 285) and Nielson (6-3, 305).
Linebackers Topham and Gomez-Simmons figure to pace the defense along with the massive Salakielu (6-5, 295).
Castro expects the defense to be much improved this season and hopes to force turnovers to make the offense’s job easier.
■ Coach: James Thurman, second season (9-2)
■ 2011 record: 9-2 (6-1 Northeast League)
■ Returning starters: Five offense, five defense
■ Top players: WR Vince Castro (Sr.); WR Josh Mayfield (Sr.); RB Andrew Moreland (Jr.); K Jay Mattox (Sr.); LB Randy Ramirez (Jr.); LB Dee Wade (Sr.); LB Winston Vongmepunt (Sr.); DL Lahmad Evans (Sr.)
■ Outlook: No Sunrise Region team has had more success than Las Vegas. The Wildcats have advanced to the Sunrise title game in 10 of the past 12 seasons, winning seven titles.
But Las Vegas will need to reload quickly after losing several key players to graduation.
Hasaan Henderson, who passed for 1,484 yards and 18 touchdowns, and rushed for 656 yards and seven scores, is now at UNR. All-state running back Farrell Victor, who rushed for 1,281 yards and 21 TDs, and caught 29 passes for 281 yards and four scores, also graduated.
Without those two, the Wildcats don’t have a proven go-to offensive player. Castro (30 catches, 429 yards) was a first-team All-Northeast League receiver, and Mayfield is back after catching 22 passes for 302 yards.
Moreland had more success as a receiver than a running back last season, but probably will be leaned on in the running game.
On defense, All-Northeast performers Wade and Evans should anchor a unit that Thurman thinks is sound.
And with Mattox, who hit six field goals and had 47 touchbacks last season, the kicking game should be among the state’s best.
■ Coach: Perryn Hale, first season
■ 2011 record: 3-6 (3-4 Northeast League)
■ Returning starters: Three offense, seven defense
■ Top players: CB/RB Tommy Perkins (Sr.); DE/FB Max Cruz (Sr.)
■ Outlook: Hale takes over a team that lost several key players to graduation.
The biggest loss was quarterback Will Gosse-Gardet, who passed for 1,437 yards and 14 touchdowns, and also rushed for eight scores. The Rams also lost their leading rusher and top receiver.
Perkins is the top returning offensive producer. He ran for 341 yards on 46 carries, and probably will have to carry more of the load this season.
Cruz recorded seven sacks last year and returns to key the defense.
■ Coach: Andy Ostolaza, sixth season (29-20)
■ 2011 record: 3-6 (2-4 Southeast League)
■ Returning starters: Two offense, three defense
■ Top players: G Nick Guzman (Jr.); T Zack Frank (Sr.); LB Alejandro Colon (Sr.); LB Alex Cater (Sr.); DB Abdurahim Cravin (Sr.)
■ Outlook: The Skyhawks missed the playoffs last season, but were a couple of breaks away from having a completely different year.
The team’s first four losses came by a total of 19 points, and the team’s defense was fairly strong as the Skyhawks allowed 30 points in a game just once.
But Ostolaza now must replace his quarterback, running back and top tackler from a year ago, and two other key players transferred to Liberty.
The 275-pound Guzman and the 285-pound Frank give the Skyhawks plenty of size up front. But with so little experience at the skill positions, the defense probably will have to be strong again for the team to make the postseason.
■ Coach: Marcus Sherman, second season (4-6)
■ 2011 record: 4-6 (4-3 Northeast League)
■ Returning starters: Five offense, eight defense
■ Top players: ATH Kennedy Williams (Sr.); WR Marcellus Bridges (Jr.); WR Joe Aguilar (Jr.); RB Dillard Davis (So.); TE Eric Burrell (Jr.); DT Dallas Foe-Seui (Sr.); SS Juan Batiste (Sr.); CB Malik Batiste (So.); CB Arphaxad Carroll (Sr.); LB Rogelio Lopez (Sr.)
■ Outlook: With eight starters back, Sherman will look for the defense to carry the load, especially early.
While the Vikings gave up 30 or more points five times last season, the defense should show improvement, led by first-team All-Northeast League defensive tackle Foe-Seui.
On offense, look for Sherman to try to get the ball to the explosive Williams in multiple ways.
Sherman says his offensive unit, which graduated quarterback Anthony Sanders, is “young and exciting.”
■ Coach: Jeff Cahill, fifth season (30-16)
■ 2011 record: 6-5 (3-3 Southeast League)
■ Returning starters: Four offense, seven defense
■ Top players: WR/DB Devonte Boyd (Sr.); RB Antraye Johnson (Jr.); OL/DL Alex Archibeque (Sr.); QB Jaylen Rose (Sr.); MLB Zach Tritsch (Sr.); S Dekota Gonzales (Jr.); CB Anthony Owens (Sr.); DE Mike Roberts (Sr.)
■ Outlook: The Wolves made a run to the Sunrise Region semifinals last year and return a pair of explosive players in Boyd and Johnson as they try to make a return trip to the postseason.
Boyd was a first-team all-state receiver with 64 catches for 1,100 yards and eight touchdowns as a junior. He is being recruited by several schools, including UNLV, and will be the top target for new quarterback Rose.
Johnson, who had five return TDs last season, earned second-team all-state honors as a return man. He also rushed for 772 yards and 10 scores. Johnson will see time in the slot and even at quarterback.
On defense, the Wolves return their top two tacklers in Tritsch (80 tackles) and Gonzales (76 tackles).
Boyd, who had four interceptions, and Owens will team with Gonzales in what should be a strong secondary.
Basic’s offense was explosive last year, but the defense gave up 35 or more points four times. If the defense makes strides, Basic could again be a threat in the postseason.
■ Coach: Brad Talich, first season
■ 2011 record: 4-5 (1-5 Southeast League)
■ Returning starters: Seven offense, five defense
■ Top players: WR Cody Mucino (Sr.); C Colton Coss (Sr.); WR Brock Taeubel (Sr.); RB Evan Cooper (Sr.); WR Kjell Henness (Sr.); TE/DL Brendan Larsen (Sr.); LB Jason Warren (Sr.); DL Cosme Montenegro (Sr.); LB Corey Sobczyk (Sr.); LB Dakota Brunger (Sr.); DB Kieran Eissler (Sr.); DB Trevor Spina (Sr.)
■ Outlook: Talich takes over after coaching the defense last season. He said the focus is on program development, not necessarily on quick results.
The defense was strong last season, allowing an average of 15.9 points and posting two shutouts. Warren, who led the team with 72 tackles, returns to anchor that unit.
The offense took a bigger hit, losing several key contributors to graduation, but Mucino is back to offer a big-play threat. He’s been a fixture since his freshman season, and led the team with 11 catches for 183 yards and three touchdowns last year despite missing much of the season.
■ Coach: Preston Goroff, ninth season (57-35)
■ 2011 record: 4-5 (2-4 Southeast League)
■ Returning starters: Four offense, four defense
■ Top players: RB/CB Lamar Cameron (Sr.); QB Micah Hare (Sr.); WR/FS Romance Oliver (Sr.); SS/WR Tyrone Rouse (Sr.)
■ Outlook: The Dragons made four consecutive appearances in the Sunrise title game from 2006 to 2009, but have missed the playoffs the last two seasons.
Goroff hopes to end that streak this season and thinks his team can contend for a berth from the Southeast.
The Dragons will have to find a replacement for second-team all-state running back Chris Marshall, who ran for 1,544 yards and 17 TDs and was the Southeast’s Offensive Most Valuable Player last season.
But Goroff said the team has better overall athleticism at the skill positions and is stronger after consistent effort in the weight room in the offseason.
Goroff said the team needs to find more offensive balance this season, but more importantly needs to improve on defense after allowing an average of 30.2 points last year.
“We had one of the worst defenses I can remember,” Goroff said.
■ Coach: Vernon Brown, third season (8-10)
■ 2011 record: 4-5 (3-4 Northeast League)
■ Returning starters: Three offense, four defense
■ Top players: RB/WR/DB Justin Brown (Sr.); OL Dallas Kounovsky (Jr.); TE Marquille Cleveland (Sr.); DB Marcus Fletcher (Sr.); LB Fareti Tauaivale (Jr.); DB Elijah Williams (Sr.); DL Dominick Patterson (Sr.)
■ Outlook: Coach Brown hopes the team’s move to the Southeast League will mean a return to the postseason for the first time since 2004.
Justin Brown will have to do a lot for that to happen. The senior rushed for 592 yards and six touchdowns, and had 22 catches for 173 yards and two scores last season. He also recorded 32 tackles on defense.
Tauaivale, who had 78 tackles, and Fletcher will play key roles on defense for the Sundevils, who allowed 50 or more points three times last season.
■ Coach: Marty Redmond, eighth season (49-29)
■ 2011 record: 9-3 (4-2 Southeast League)
■ Returning starters: Two offense, four defense
■ Top players: WR/SS Tyler Morris (Sr.); QB Drew Doxtator (Jr.); DL Joe Reid (Sr.); CB James Henderson (Sr.); DL Dillon Weasa (Jr.)
■ Outlook: A two-point loss to Liberty in the Sunrise Region title game last season has the Falcons hungry.
Only Doxtator and Morris return on the offensive side of the ball, but they provide a good start.
Doxtator completed 57.4 percent of his passes for 2,687 yards and 37 touchdowns as a sophomore. Morris, who has committed to San Diego State, had 21 catches for 507 yards and eight TDs.
Redmond said many of the team’s other skill players saw varsity time last season, but found themselves behind talented starters.
On defense, Redmond thinks the team’s improved speed should help keep the team from giving up big plays. Morris, who had 69 tackles and three interceptions, should lead the way on defense, as well, though the coaches will have to find a way to get their star some rest.
Look for the Falcons to battle Liberty atop the league again.
■ Coach: Rich Muraco, fourth season (30-8)
■ 2011 record: 11-2 (6-0 Southeast League)
■ Returning starters: Four offense, five defense
■ Top players: QB/DB Kai Nacua (Sr.); RB/DB Niko Kapeli (Sr.); OL/DE Jarvis Polu (Jr.); OL/DL Chris Noone (Sr.); RB/DB Jaylen Mitchell (Sr.); LB K.J. Otuafi (Sr.)
■ Outlook: The Patriots won the Sunrise Region title and lost in the state semifinals to eventual state champion Bishop Gorman last season, and expectations are high again.
Liberty has leaned heavily on its offensive line in recent years and lost a pair of key players in all-state linemen P.J. Taeao and Cole Morgavi. But Polu (6-3, 240) started all 13 games at right tackle last season, and the Patriots quickly rebuilt around him with Silverado transfer Noone (6-2, 260) and a pair of players – Justin Polu (6-2, 260) and Jozef Missaleafua (6-3, 250) – who were on Liberty’s undefeated junior varsity team last season.
That line will open holes for Kapeli, who ran for 2,383 yards and 30 TDs last season and has committed to play at UNLV.
Quarterback Nacua, who has committed to play linebacker at Brigham Young, also is back. He has a 21-4 record as a starter.
Nacua and Kapeli both should see time in the secondary, with Silverado transfer Otuafi helping to lead the linebackers.
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