The562’s season previews for the 2022-23 school year are sponsored by Vertical Raise, the official team fundraising partner of The562.
Last year was a terrific start to the Raul Lara era at St. Anthony. The Poly coaching great led the Saints to a CIF-SS championship game appearance, where they came up just short of the program’s second CIF-SS title since 1948.
That team was loaded with seniors, though, and this year might look a little more like the start of a rebuild than Lara’s debut season.
“We’re a real young team, as young as I’ve coached,” he said. “We’re probably going to start 12-15 sophomores this year and we only have five or six seniors in the program. The good thing is this young group can be pretty good, but they’re going to have to go through their lumps and growing pains.”
Lara compared this Saints team to the 2009 team he coached at Poly, a young team coming off back-to-back championships in 07/08 that started a lot of inexperienced players. They started off slow but ended up barely losing in the Division 1 quarterfinals to Servite, the eventual champions.
Lending to the atmosphere of something new coming is the ongoing construction of Clark Field, which will force the Saints to play at St. Pius X again this year–but Lara pointed that with the rapid work being done at Clark Field, it’s possible they’ll be able to open it this season.
“I think kids are waiting for that to be open, I think you’ll see the numbers come up once that’s finished,” he said. “The field will be really nice but we’re getting a whole facility, the weight room is going to be really nice which is important to me.”
These young Saints face a tough test out of the gate as they’ll travel to top-ranked City Section power San Pedro, then face Mayfair, Dominguez, and Wilson in the nonleague schedule. Lara has faith that they’ll continue to improve in leaps and bounds throughout the season, as his teams typically have.
He’s high on the potential of his young talent, and also on a rare senior, Alexander Cobbs, who features to be an absolute monster this year for the Saints. Cobbs, a 6-4, 235-pound defensive end/tight end, is a rare athlete for the Del Rey League.
Cobbs is the son of Anthony Cobbs, who was a star receiver at Poly and UCLA and who made it to the NFL; Anthony played for Lara and is now on staff with the Saints. He said his son was a basketball player his whole life but was convinced to play football by the team after transferring to St. Anthony.
“He has the ability to be really good and to be an impact player in college,” said Lara. “I think he’s got a very bright future as a defensive end, he’s very good and he’s still learning the game.”
Cobbs said he’s excited for his senior year after falling in love with football as a junior.
“I had never played anything before, not Pop Warner, the closest thing I’d come to football was probably Ultimate Frisbee,” said Cobbs. “I think one thing that’s an advantage about it is that I don’t think I know more than anyone else. I’m always looking for coaches to help me learn more because I’m so new to the sport.”
Other key contributors will be QB Adrian Perez, who Lara compared favorably to Chris Venegas, a scrappy QB who played for him at Warren; RB Elijah Lolesio-Pua who will try to fill the big shoes left by stud RB Sone Aupiu; and receivers Darius Davis and Dre Johnson, both of whom will have the opportunity to catch a lot of balls as seniors on this young team.
8/19 -- @ San Pedro
8/26 -- vs. Mayfair
9/2 -- @ Dominguez
9/8 -- vs. Wilson
9/16 -- BYE
9/23 -- vs. Marina
9/30 -- vs. Campbell Hall
10/7 -- @ La Salle
10/14 -- @ St. Genevieve
10/21 -- vs. Harvard-Westlake
10/28 -- vs. St. Pius X- St. Matthias
*Home games at St. Pius X- St. Matthias
QB – Adrian Perez (Jr.)
RB – Elijah Lolesio-Pua (Jr.)
TE/WR – Alexander Cobbs (Sr.)
WR – Darius Davis (Sr.)
WR – Dre Johnson (Sr.)
OL -- Nico Rivera (Jr.)
OL -- Mathies To (So.)
OL -- Ashley Newton (Jr.)
OL -- Jeremiah Cervantes (Jr.)
K -- Christian Martin (So.)
DE – Alexander Cobbs (Sr.)
DL -- Nico Rivera (Jr.)
DL -- Mathies To (So.)
DE -- Jeremiah Cervantes (Jr.)
LB -- Soloalofa Lepaga-Ili (So.)
LB -- Raymond Gomez (Jr.)
LB -- Jaxson Bonsall (So.)
DB -- Sawyer Smalley (So.)
DB -- Jonathan Ferguson (Sr.)
DB -- Remy Doering (Jr.)
DB -- Sean Romero (So.)