2011 harbor football preview
Coming off an 8-3 season and an inaugural Central West Conference championship, the Harbor Seahawks football team looks to defend its conference title and earn an opportunity at a state championship.
Head Coach Brett Peabody, entering his second year at the helm, sees depth in all positions on his squad, despite bringing in several new faces to the Seahawk field.
"Depth of our talent is as better as its ever been," according to Coach Peabody. "We're very inexperienced, but very talented."
On offense, elusive and tough quarterback Chris Smith (Centennial HS, Compton) returns to play a full season of Harbor football after being sidelined for the season via injury during the team's season opener last year. He will be pushed by former Portland State product Chad Dashnaw, who is a big redshirt freshman at 6'5'.
"QB depth exceeds last year," according to Coach Peabody.
The quarterback position was vastly overshadowed by a rushing attack that was the best in Southern California and 2nd overall in the state. The Harbor running game will feature a plethora of backs that have a lot of speed, according to Coach Peabody.
Leading the way is returning special teams standout and 1st Team All-Conference player Theron West, who will headline the Harbor running game and continue to display his punt return skills for 2011. Joron Adams (Salmen HS, New Orleans, LA) is a compact player who has great speed, Coach Peabody says. Another notable back in the rotation will be Dion Willis (Carson HS).
Coach Peabody acknowledges that the receiver spot is freshman-laden, as the starters will be first-year players at Harbor. Peabody says there will be "growing pains" for the receivers, but they can and will make plays this season. Dorsey standouts Keith Lakey and Dominique Harris look to head the receiving corps for the Seahawks. DeLontra Fields, who stands at 6'4', comes from New Orleans, LA and will be in the rotation, along with Lonnie Turner from Inglewood (Serra HS). 6'3' receiver Joel Brown (Inglewood HS) is also a big target for the offense.
Coach Peabody finds that the offensive line is more athletic this year, as 1st Team All-Conference guard Niu Sale returns to lead the front five. While Sale stands at left guard, freshman Christian Leui (Carson HS) will look to make an impact at right guard. 6'4' Rheid Skipps (South HS, Gardena, CA) is another freshman who will anchor the left end at tackle, while a competition for the right tackle position boils down to sophomores David Rivera (San Pedro HS) or 6'5' Jonathan Turner (Torrance HS), the latter who sat out last season due to injury. In the middle is freshman John Miller (Redondo HS) at center, with hopes to be a major factor up front for Harbor.
Defensively, the Seahawks were physical and talented at all positions and look to be just the same for 2011, if not better. Coach Peabody says the defense is extremely athletic and fast, and he is eager to see the return of sack specialist Austin Flynn, who played in the 2009 season and recorded a team-high 7.5 sacks in nine games. Peabody describes Flynn as an "immensely talented young man," with "special talent the same caliber" of former All-Conference stars from Harbor: Chris Matthews (played at University of Kentucky after Harbor) and Dominique Blackman (transferred to University of Idaho after Harbor). Flynn will return to a defensive line that helped Harbor finish sixth in the state in sacks last year.
Peabody says the linebacking group is better than last season and quite deeper. Headlining the hard-hitting group is 1st Team All-Conference player Elijah Sala (Banning HS), who had 54 tackles (10.5 for loss), 5.5 sacks, two interceptions (both returned for touchdowns; one of them returned a school-record 89 yards for a touchdown) and three forced fumbles last season. Other notable linebackers will be sophomore Daniel Bird (Banning HS), who had five tackles for loss, an interception and 24 total tackles in 2010. Matt Willis, who came from the Air Force Academy, is a coveted talent in Peabody's eyes and should be a major contributor this season.
Another key returner amongst the linebacking crew is last year's team sack leader Kendle Warren (Dominguez HS), who had six sacks on the year and 41 total tackles (nine for loss). And Philip Laufiso (Stagg HS, Stockton, CA) is another talented freshman who Peabody describes as very physical on the field.
The secondary was quick and stole 16 balls last season while playing stellar defense through the air. Peabody describes this year's unit as very fast, deep and talented across the field, as the secondary is headlined by sophomore Cleshawn Page, who had 36 tackles and an interception last year. 6'2' Dominique Scott (Cathedral HS) is another key contributor who could join Page at cornerback. Safeties Esston Al-Uqdah (Crenshaw HS) and Karon Walker (Carson HS) look to make a major impact at the last line of the Harbor defense this year.
With West powering the return game, other speedy talents in Darren Elliot (Crenshaw HS) and Lakey will also see time returning kicks, as Peabody is overly positive that both players will be tough to tackle and quite effective. Kickers Omar Buccio (Leuzinger HS) and Peter Martinez (Banning HS) will be depended on to make big plays with their feet for the Seahawks and also succeed 1st Team All-Conference punter Justin Doerner (going to Rutgers University) from last season.
Overall, the Seahawks face a daunting task in non-conference play, with two opponents ranked in the state's top 25 preseason poll (No. 6-ranked Cerritos and No. 18-ranked El Camino), with Golden West (6-4 last season) hosting the Seahawks in their final non-conference matchup before Central West play begins.
Harbor's non-conference opponents (see here) will certainly challenge the defending Central West champions as their conference foes will be tough outings for Coach Peabody's Seahawks.
Two consecutive years of conference championships make Harbor's 2011 season an engaging and exciting one. The Seahawks will hope to make waves throughout the state as the quest for a third straight conference title begins September 3 against Cerritos College.