In our annual San Juan Capistrano high school football preview, we delve into everything you need to know about the upcoming football season. Click the links below to read the team-specific previews, scroll through the PDF version here for more photos and interviews.
By Zach Cavanagh
The past two-plus years have been a wild time of adjusting circumstances for the Capistrano Valley Christian football team.
When head coach Eric Preszler began his second stint with the Eagles in April 2020, the program had just seven football players. Preszler did all he could to scrounge together a roster by pulling from other CVC athletics programs, but even with a roster somewhat intact, the Eagles couldn’t put together a season in the COVID-delayed spring 2021 window.
Last season, CVC had an influx of 13 freshmen, and the Eagles took off. Capistrano Valley Christian averaged more than 32 points a game while allowing an average of just more than 14 points, to soar to an 8-2 record. It was an incredibly impressive feat for Preszler’s program, but, unfortunately, it was one that went unrewarded.
As the San Joaquin League dissolved, CVC was forced to play as a freelance team last season, which meant no matter what, the Eagles had to apply for the CIF-SS playoffs as an at-large team. The 8-2 record wasn’t good enough, as the division grouping CVC was slotted into by the new calpreps.com power ranking system had more higher-ranked at-large candidates ahead of the Eagles than there were spots available.
“You just do the best with the situation we got,” Preszler said. “We turned the page pretty quick. It was a big deal for about a week.”
With the whirlwind this tenure has been, things continue to be on the rise for Capistrano Valley Christian.
The Eagles will be in a league this season—the six-team Mesquite League, one of four leagues that make up the newly formed Small Schools Conference—so the Eagles will have three playoff berths for which to contend.
Additionally, this might be the largest roster the CVC football program has ever had, according to Preszler. There are 42 players on the current Eagles roster, which also enables CVC to field its first-ever junior varsity squad for a handful of games.
It’s a rising tide for the Capistrano Valley Christian football program, as now the returning players for the Eagles actually have game experience and not simply time served at the school.
Leader of the pack is senior Hayden Carlson, who is committed to Indiana for baseball. Carlson will be everywhere on the field for the Eagles as a running back, wide receiver, wildcat quarterback and safety.
“He’s got this maturity on how to handle yourself as an athlete,” Preszler said. “Very structured, self-disciplined, and eager to be the best version of himself.”
Sophomore quarterback Nate Richie will man the helm for the traditional offensive sets, and Preszler had high praise, saying that Richie is as accurate as any quarterback he’s coached, including his days at Saddleback College.
Defensively, the Eagles will push up front with a strong group of four defensive linemen: seniors Logan Kelly and Kennedy Abang and juniors Kelly Glover and Chase Carney.
Defensive MVP Jack Gallo returns at linebacker after leading the team in tackles as a freshman.
Look out for the Eagles, as the program keeps flying higher.
Date Opponent Location, Time
8/25 Calvary Chapel Segerstrom HS, 7 p.m.
9/2 Godinez Aliso Niguel HS, 7 p.m.
9/9 Laguna Beach Aliso Niguel HS, 7 p.m.
9/17 Desert Christian Aliso Niguel HS, 3 p.m.
10/1 Linfield Christian* Aliso Niguel HS, 3 p.m.
10/7 Western Christian* Western Christian HS, 7 p.m.
10/14 Riverside Prep* Riverside Prep HS, 7 p.m.
10/21 Trinity Classical* TBA, 7 p.m.
10/28 Arrowhead Christian* TBA, 7 p.m.
*- Mesquite League
Zach Cavanagh is the sports editor for Picket Fence Media. Zach is a multiple California Journalism Award winner and has covered sports in Orange County since 2013. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @ZachCav and follow our sports coverage on Twitter @SouthOCSports. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.