No. 1 De La Salle (Concord, Calif.) - Team preview / Preseason photo galleryStrengths:
De La Salle is always efficient and disciplined up front, on both sides of the ball. The 2013 Spartans could be the biggest and most talented group of linemen the school has seen in recent memory. Offensively, Drew Sullivan
, Larry Allen Jr.
, Sumner Houston
and Boss Tagaloa
all return up front. The group should average close to 270 pounds, which is big for an average high school line and massive by De La Salle's standards. Houston and Tagaloa double as defensive linemen. They'll likely be joined by Kahlil McKenzie
, son of Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie, who spent his first two years playing in Green Bay, Wisc. The starting quarterback, Chris Williams
, returns to provide an invaluable bonus, given his command of the team's offense. Running back Das Tautalatasi
is back after rushing for 1,000 yards last year. With a really impressive-looking sophomore group, there is a sense around the program that it could be returning to talent levels that it enjoyed in the late 1990s-early 2000s.Question marks:
De La Salle doesn't have any blue-chip, five-star game changer on offense. However, with a few exceptions, that has largely been the case for decades. Still, the team will need to be able to depend on contributions from someone like Marquis Morris
, a track star clocked at 10.7 seconds in the 100 meters. The coaching transition from Bob Ladouceur to Justin Alumbaugh went about as smoothly as possible
. Alumbaugh has been groomed for years for this role, and Ladouceur will remain on the staff as an assistant. It is still a transition nonetheless, and there's no way to perfectly predict how it will play out. McKenzie is ultra-talented, but has never gone through a De La Salle practice. There will be a learning curve, and he'll have to prove himself to the coaching staff. For this team to realize its potential, its group of sophomores needs to step in and contribute, since replacing Michael Hutchings, Victor Egu and the other graduating talent won't be easy. Six-foot-4basketball star Devin Asiasi
and Anthony Sweeney
could be key players. Tagaloa, the first De La Salle freshman to earn an offer, could develop into a monster as early as this season.Outlook:
De La Salle has dominated the California landscape, winning the Open Division Bowl Game by an average of more than 27 points each of the last four seasons. However, against opponents from other states, the Spartans are only 2-3 during the same stretch. There is very little separating the pack of teams at the top of the preseason rankings. Any early season struggle could drop the Spartans. With no notable out-of-state game on the schedule for the first time in recent memory, even if De La Salle rolls to another Bowl Game title, will it be enough to hang on to No. 1?