With a roster that listed nearly twice as many juniors as seniors and a challenging schedule in 2011, it's not a huge surprise that the Torrey Pines High football team finished with a 5-7 mark.
"We lost a lot of games by very close scores last year," said coach Scott Ashby, who sees better things ahead this fall with a senior-laden squad. "We've got a great group of players who work very hard and are very dedicated. They've earned a lot of respect."
Even with 35 juniors compared with 18 seniors on the 2011 roster, the Falcons managed to earn a CIF playoff spot and beat Morse in the first round before losing to eventual Division II state champ Helix. Three losses were by six points or fewer, including a 13-7 loss to Division III champ and neighbor Cathedral Catholic, meaning with a bit more luck Torrey would have had a winning record.
Now all those juniors are looking forward to their senior seasons, and Ashby likes what he's seeing on the practice field.
"Our starting quarterback, Mike Ward, was the starter as a freshman and sophomore, and backed up our quarterback last year. He had a real good spring and summer, and thus far has had a real good camp."
Ward will have a solid wall to work behind and several experienced receivers.
"On the offensive side, we're bringing back our starting left tackle Jacob Alsadek," said Ashby, who noted that Alsadek recently orally committed to the University of Arizona. "We're also bringing back our right tackle, Andrew Maneval, who we'll move to guard, plus our center, Jake Ashby. All three of those, by the end of last year, were playing at all-league caliber. So we're expecting big things out of those three."
Wide receiver Jackson Gentes returns as a starter, and Nolan Weinberg is back at tight end. Senior Ryan Bath adds to the experience factor on the receiving corps, with sophomore Jack Baily and junior Peter Hollen also expected to get playing time. When the Falcons aren't letting it fly, they can rely on what should be a solid ground game.
"We're using a three-running-back system," Ashby explained. "One of our running backs, Billy Maggs, will be in his third year. Chase Pickwell will be taking over the fullback duties. He's very explosive and a fast runner. The third position will have a plethora of guys, and all bring their own great skill set. We have a senior, Johnny Yacovelle, who has filled in at the other tackle spot and is doing real well. And at the other guard spot, we've got a great battle going.
"On the defensive side, we're bringing back an all-league D-tackle in Grant McGahey, a good linebacker in Miles Ahles, and an all-league free safety in Cole Jaczko. (Linebacker) Jack Condon is also a returning starter who played very well as the year went on."
For more on the Falcons, visit their MaxPreps page.