As the middle division of the Peninsula Athletic League, the Ocean Division sees heavy turnover each year and this time they traded a playoff semifinalist for a finalist.
Sequoia and Aragon are in. Jefferson and San Mateo are out.
After spending only one season in the Ocean, Jefferson rolled through the division in 2010 and moved up to the Bay Division. San Mateo finished last in the Ocean and dropped into the Lake Division.
Sequoia moved up to the Ocean after winning the Lake.
It took that momentum all the way to the Central Coast Section Division II finals before losing to Willow Glen.
“There is some confidence in our ability,” Sequoia’s third-year coach Rob Poulos said of his team and its first season in the Ocean. “We have to set a realistic goal to be competitive.”
The Cherokees bring back three all-league players, including two-way star Josh Lauese, who was all-league at three positions.
Poulos has gotten his team to buy into not just the football team, but a football program.
Sequoia has had annual overnight football summer camps and “as a result, there is a lot of pride in being on the football team,” Poulos said.
Sequoia is 18-4-1 under Poulos after winning only 16 games in the previous five seasons.
Aragon fell to the Ocean after completing its first losing season since 1990 and finishing sixth in the Bay last season.
“It was a nice run,” Aragon coach Steve Sell said. “It makes [us] hungrier to get back.”
The Dons dropped in the Bay standings for the third straight year after finishing second in 2008 and fourth in 2009.
Aragon does return a strong core of players starting with running back Davarian Redd, wide receiver James Egan and lineman Keenan Woodard.
The Dons also bring up four players from junior varsity who should make an immediate impact, highlighted by sophomore fullback-linebacker Patrick Pauni.
Menlo was one game away from joining the Bay before Jefferson stormed through the Ocean last season.
Menlo graduated six all-league players, including quarterback Robert Wickers and running back Beau Nichols, but should still be a force in the league due to a strong group moving up from junior varsity, Poulos said.
After finishing third in league, Half Moon Bay lost a heartbreaker in the CCS Division IV semifinals to Carmel last season.
Carmel came back from 21 points down to take the lead with less than 30 seconds remaining.
It was Half Moon Bay’s first trip to the CCS playoffs since winning the CCS Small School Division title in 2005.
The Cougars had five all-league players graduate, including Ocean Offensive Player of the Year Dominic Sena.
South San Francisco has been on the cusp of breaking into the top half of the division for the past two seasons.
This might be possible with the return of two all-league defensive players, including defensive lineman Rika Levi.
Woodside is in its second season in the Ocean and is working on three losing seasons in the past four.