League: Division I-A Sunset
Head coach: Vernon Fox, third season (19-6)
2014 record: 7-4 (5-2 Sunset, first)
Returning lettermen: 20
Returning starters: Three offense, five defense
Top offensive players: RB Christian Marshall (Jr.); QB Brenden Joyce (Sr.); WR Elijah Kothe (So.)
Top defensive players: LB/DB Cole Thomas (Sr.); NT Christian Khoury (Sr.); DT Jalen Flowers (Jr.); CB Robby Schwartz (Sr.)
Top newcomers: WR/DB Brytt Weber (Sr.): LB Chris Stanek (Sr.); WR/DB Alec Netski (Jr.); LB John Thomson (So.)
Key losses: OT John Molchon; WR Mark Rubalcaba; S Tyler Mahan
Outlook: Fox likes the potential of his young team, but the Crusaders must plug gaps quickly if they are to win another league title.
Marshall is a good place to start. The athletic back rushed for 838 yards and 12 TDs as a sophomore, and probably will shoulder more of the load this season with the graduation of big-play wideout Rubalcaba (64 catches, 1,084 yards, 13 TDs) and steady quarterback Greg Benson (1,573 passing yards, 18 TDs, 4 INT).
Joyce saw limited time backing up Benson and completed 11 of 29 passes for 152 yards. Kothe had more catches on defense than offense last season, as he had two interceptions and just one reception. But the sophomore will have to step into a larger role in the offense this year.
On defense, Thomas was a second-team All-Sunset League pick at linebacker after leading the team with 89 tackles.
Khoury and Flowers should anchor what Fox termed a “very strong defensive line group.”
“(We are) a team full of athletes and skill players that can contribute right away,” Fox said. “An explosive offensive group and fast and active defensive group with big-play potential.”