The Eagles began preparation for the upcoming 2000 season with the opening of summer camp on June 26th. They will begin Summer Drills with a 64-man varsity roster - their largest ever - including a record 45 returning lettermen. A total of eleven Passing League games are scheduled plus the Edison Tournament on July 15th. The team will have a healthy balance of youth and experience with 45 lettermen and eleven full or part time starters returning. The classes break down as follows: 16 seniors, 40 juniors and eight sophomores. The freshman team was the talk of the campus last fall posting an impressing 9-0 record and capturing the Serra League title. Seven members of that team regularly suited up for varsity games and Ashton White became only the second freshman to start a game - the other being Rueban Vaughan in 1993. The 1999 sophomore team posted an 8-2 record last year and the Eagle season hinges on how well this group performs at the varsity level.
Santa Margarita concluded the Spring Practice period will most of their pressing questions answered, but as always, their success will hinge on durability, and the development of several young skill position players.
With the transfer of David Doomey back to Irvine the combo of All-Serra League senior Tyler Thompson (5-11, 210) and sophomore phenom Ashton White (6-0, 190) got most of the work at running back, and the running game is expected to be a strong point. The offensive line, which was injured for much of the 1999 campaign looked greatly improved, and overall the team, and this group in particular will be considerably bigger in 2000. (The team boasts a record 27 players who weigh at least 200 pounds and 35 players who bench press at least 200.) Senior LT Ryan Lumm (6-3, 240) Junior C Mike Tirabassi (6-2, 230) and senior Kyle Skierski (6-4, 225) bring experience. Adding to the depth in the line will be junior Michael Konopisos (6-1, 275) and senior Brian Dally (6-1, 265). Junior transfer John Finneran (6-6, 285) from Laguna Beach who is expected to make an immediate impact. The teams strength on offense will be in the offensive backfield where pre-season All-American candidate QB Matt Dlugolecki (6-6, 225) and talented junior QB Marshall Tharpe (6-1, 175) return. Returning All-Serra League LB senior Matt Vogel (6-0, 205) and senior Ryan Whelan (5-10, 205) will play fullback. The receiving corps will be lead by juniors Curtis Cooper (5-10, 170, 4.50), Johnnie Walker (5-11, 165, 4.55), Renny Jackson (6-0, 175, 4.60). Senior Anthony Bernal (5-10, 150) and junior Cole DeVitis (5-6, 160) are also expected to see plenty of action.
Defensively, the strength will be at the linebacker position where Thompson, Vogel and Whelan will be expected to provide the size and speed necessary to counter the top running games that the Eagles seemingly face week-in and week-out in Division I. On the line, expect returners Doug Alvarado (5-8, 215), Chad Brazee (5-11, 185) and Alex Huston (6-0, 205) to be improved. Junior Mike Leiter (6-3, 190), sophomore Chris Cutler (6-2, 250) and others will add size and depth to a group that struggled in 1999. In the secondary, expect White and Cooper to start as safeties while Jackson and Bernal provide depth. At the corner spots, Walker, DeVitis and fellow juniors Trevor Zinn (6-0, 160) and Lance Vargas (5-11, 160) will compete for playing time.
The kicking game should be stronger in 2000 with the return of punter Vogel and placekicker Cooper. Expect a challenge for the kicking duties from sophomores Jeff Ferrier and Will Johnson.