The Peninsula Athletic League Lake Division is looking to shake the image of being a lower-tier league and will have a new feel going into 2011.
Sequoia, which moves up to the Ocean Division this season, began the reimaging of the league after winning the Lake and running all the way to the Central Coast Section Division II title game in 2010.
This run helped change the Lake into a “B” division, increasing the chances of a team earning a CCS playoff bid.
It has also given confidence to others in the league, including third-year Hillsdale coach Mike Parodi.
“Last year, we should have beaten Sequoia,” Parodi said. “We’re a few plays [away] from being pretty darn good.”
Hillsdale is working on two consecutive winning seasons under Parodi after a string of losing seasons prior to his arrival.
“When you taste success, it becomes easier to repeat it,” Parodi said. “[The players] are not satisfied with being good; they want to be great.”
But he said his team needs to learn how to finish its seasons and games.
“We have done well throughout the season,” Parodi said. “We have to find a way to finish what we do.”
Hillsdale lost its final two games in each of the past two seasons.
Senior quarterback Yannis Tsagarakis and running back Damien Carter return for the Knights.
Junior Kyle Mullen is also expected to make an impact at linebacker and other defensive positions.
El Camino was one of Hillsdale’s early-season losses and, according to Parodi, should be a contender for the league title.
The Colts bring back all-league wide receiver Ronnie Francesconi.
San Mateo completed a winless Ocean season and was dumped into the Lake.
This came a season after the Bearcats went 8-4.
“We really didn’t feel one year of struggling in the Ocean warranted [being dropped into the Lake],” San Mateo coach Jeff Scheller said.
Scheller also said his team needs to regain its confidence.
“It’s about believing in themselves,” Scheller said. “Once we get into a game and they see things are working for them, it’s going to be huge.”
But the team brings back much of its roster from last season, including two all-league players — highlighted by standout wide receiver and two-way player Andrew Ho.
The Bearcats also bring back running back Michael Latu and underrated tight end Alex Strathern, Scheller said.
San Mateo will be tested early as it faces defending PAL Bay and CCS Division III champion Terra Nova on Sept. 23, a game Scheller calls a measuring stick.
Carlmont returns some good athletes, Parodi said, and should also contend for the league title.
Carlmont looks to replace the production of Offensive Player of the Year Robert Johnson and all-league defensive lineman Chris Vea.
Capuchino and Mills struggled last season, finishing in fifth and sixth place respectively, but should find more success as they each bring up players from junior varsity teams that played in the PAL Lake championship game.