During the offseason, we’ll profile one team each week that looks like a sure bet to be among the best in the nation for next fall.
This week’s team: Santa Margarita (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.).
Projected 2012 Preseason Ranking: Top 15. The Eagles won’t be in front of De La Salle (Concord, Calif.) to start next season since the Spartans have won three straight CIF Open Division state bowl games, but in the preseason rankings are a lock to be No. 2 in California and No. 1 for Southern California.
Team Strengths: Nine starters return on offense with four on defense. Quarterback Johnny Stanton was one of five finalists for the Cal-Hi Sports Mr. Football State Player of the Year honor after passing for 2,439 yards and 13 touchdowns while rushing for 1,528 yards and 25 scores. Also returning will be running back Ryan Wolpin, who piled up 27 touchdowns and rushed for 1,637 yards. A massive offensive line will miss ESPNHS All-American Max Tuerk, but still will have Riley Sorenson (6-5, 315) and Dane Crane (6-3, 295). A sophomore to watch next season could be Riley's younger brother Will Sorenson (6-5, 325). On defense, the top returnee is safety Connor O’Brien, who led the team in interceptions with eight.
Another California team to watch: Lincoln (Stockton, Calif.) didn't make the FAB 50 in 2011, but the Trojans, 11-2 in 2011, could be the team to beat in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section after finishing as a semifinalist in the 2011 Division I playoffs. They will return perhaps the best running back and quarterback duo in Northern California in Justin Davis and Zack Greenlee. Davis rushed for 2,599 yards and scored 39 touchdowns last season, while Greenlee passed for 2,420 yards with 22 touchdowns and just five interceptions.