League: Division I Southwest
Head coach: Kenny Sanchez, first season
2014 record: 15-0 (4-0 Southwest, first)
Returning starters: Seven offense, six defense
Top offensive players: QB Tate Martell (Jr.); WR Tyjon Lindsey (Jr.); OL Julio Garcia (Sr.); OL Jaron Caldwell (Sr.); WR Brandon Gahagan (Sr.); RB John Shumaker (Sr.); RB Biaggio Ali Walsh (Jr.)
Top defensive players: DB Alex Perry (Jr.); DE Michael Geraghty (Sr.); DT Haskell Garrett (Jr.); OLB Ikem Okeke (Sr.)
Top newcomers: TE/OLB Brevin Jordan (So.); QB/ATH Dorian Thompson-Robinson (So.); WR/DB Brendan Radley-Hiles (So.)
Key losses: TE Alize Jones; SS Nicco Fertitta; OL Jackson Perry; LB Nela Otukolo
Outlook: Most high school programs couldn’t recover from losing the nation’s top tight end (Jones) a Notre Dame recruit (Fertitta), its leading tackler (Otukolo), its leading rusher (Russell Booze) and the national coach of the year (Tony Sanchez).
But don’t weep for the Gaels. They’ll be just fine.
Kenny Sanchez takes over for his older brother, now the head coach at UNLV. And while the losses were substantial, so is the remaining talent.
It starts with Martell, the Review-Journal’s state player of the year in 2014. He has committed to Texas A&M, and completed 62 percent of his passes as a sophomore for 2,537 yards and 40 TDs with just two interceptions.
Shumaker (625 yards, 13 TDs) and Ali Walsh (595 yards, 10 TDs) should gain plenty of yards in place of Booze. Lindsey (34 catches, 884 yards, 15 TDs) is one of the top receiver recruits in the junior class, and Gahagan (22 catches, 357 yards) is more than capable of being a No. 2 receiver.
On defense, Garrett (79 tackles, 12 sacks) will continue to be a menace to opposing offenses with his combination of size and quickness.
Perry (46 tackles) already has committed to Arizona State and will lead the secondary, and Okeke (55 tackles, 6 sacks) gives the Gaels an explosive presence at outside linebacker.
Geraghty returns after missing last season with injury to bolster the defense.