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Will No. 9 De La Salle return to days of De La Stomp?

With loads of motivation and five players securing Division I commitments, the Spartans are hellbent to return to the state's premier game.

SBLive is previewing the Top 50 high school football teams in California ahead of the 2022 season. Here’s an inside look at the De La Salle Spartans from Concord of the CIF North Coast Section, the No. 9 team in our countdown.

DE LA SALLE HOME PAGE | 2022 SCHEDULE

HEAD COACH

Justin Alumbaugh

  • 10th year as head coach
  • Overall record: 103-12
  • Titles: Section (8), state (1)

2021 SEASON AT A GLANCE

  • Overall record: 10-3
  • Points scored (allowed): 557 (230)
  • Won: 29th straight North Coast Section title with 42-14 win over Pittsburg
  • Streaks ended: 318-game unbeaten streak against NorCal opponents, 31-28 to St. Francis; First loss to Sac-Joaquin Section team since 1978 with 28-27 NorCal D-1AA to Folsom; First time since 2006 did not reach the state finals.

2022 SCHEDULE

(all games 7 p.m. unless noted)

  • Aug. 26 at Monterey Trail, 7:30 p.m.
  • Sept. 2 vs. Serra, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
  • Sept. 9 vs. Saint Francis
  • Sept. 16 at Cathedral Catholic
  • Sept. 23 vs. Folsom
  • Oct. 7 at St. Mary’s-Stockton
  • Oct. 14 at California
  • Oct. 21 vs. Monte Vista
  • Nov. 28 at Amador Valley
  • Nov. 4 at Clayton Valley Charter

RETURNING STARTERS

  • 5 on offense
  • 6 on defense

KEY PLAYERS GRADUATED

  • S-RB-KR Zeke Berry (now at Michigan)
  • LB Damoine Perkins (San Jose State)
  • TE-DL Brodie Tagaloa (Nebraska)

IMPACT PLAYERS TO WATCH

OL/DL Derek Thompson — Sr. — 6-2, 290

Honors: All-Metro SF Chronicle first team

College: Harvard

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Coach talk: “He’s a natural leader. He was voted team captain as a junior, rare in our program. He’s like an extension of the coaching staff. The fact he’s committed to Harvard — he had a lot of football offers — tells you a lot about him. On the field, he’s just physical. Good feet. Long arms. One of the strongest guys on our team.”

OL-DL Cooper Powers — Sr. — 6-4, 290

College/recruiting: No. 76 top recruit in California according to 247Sports, 18 offers, TCU commit

Coach talk: “He’s completely committed to the school, game and teammates. The third of three brothers who played in the program. He loves football. Doesn’t take it for granted. The fact he’s 6-4 and 290 and can really move doesn’t hurt much.”

TE Cooper Flanagan — St. — 6-5, 230

2021 stats: 15 catches, 285 pounds

College/recruiting: Ranked the No. 8 tight end nationally and No. 10 senior recruit in California. Committed to Notre Dame. Fourteen other offers included Alabama, Michigan, Tennessee, Miami and LSU.

Coach talk: "About midway through his junior year he really bought in. He's just gotten better and better in every way. As a leader. Weight room. All of it. I'm so proud of him. You have to block as a tight end here, but he's also our top receiver. Good hands. Great route runner. Notre Dame doesn't recruit bad football players."

RB/DB Charles Greer — Sr. — 5-11, 180

2021 stats: 1,258 rushing yards, 17 touchdowns

College: Fresno State commit

Coach talk: “He’s added some strength, a little more size. He’s always had good speed. We’ve asked him to be a more physical runner. The sky is the limit for Charles.”

CB/WR Journey McKoy — Sr. — 5-10, 170

2021 stats: Five interceptions, 28 tackles

College: Nevada

OL/DL Chase Tofaeono — Sr. — 5-11, 270

2021 stats: 23 tackles, five sacks in 10 games

Coach talk: “He’s just a natural. He understands the game and has an innate feel for it. Plus he’s really, really strong.”

QBs Carson Su’esu’e — Jr. — 6-5, 190; Toa Faavae — So. — 6-1, 185

Coach talk: “Carson was the backup last year but got hurt. He can run the offense and is progressing well. He’s a talented kid with a good arm. Toa was the JV starting quarterback as a freshman. He’s thicker and can run the ball well. Both will be on the field one way or another. If Carson isn’t under center he can play receiver. If Carson is at quarterback, Toa can play some running back. Both guys are doing a good job and had good offseasons.”

LB Peter Rachwald — Sr. — 6-1, 225

Coach talk: “He’s not going to wow you at first glance, but he’s a throwback. Tough. He’s like another coach on the field. Very physical. He’s our Mike linebacker. He’ll be right in the middle of everything.”

BEST-CASE REGULAR-SEASON SCENARIO

10-0

This is De La Salle after all and undefeated seasons are fairly routine. But last season was somewhat humbling. Even at 10-3 and a section championship. The Spartans immediately went to work after the season-ending loss to Folsom and to a player and coaching staff promised a renewed commitment to Spartan glory.

Five college commitments before the season is a high-water mark for the last decade. There’s loads of young talent at the skill positions, the lines are solid however a little thin and the quarterback situation is promising.

The schedule is challenging. Two teams ahead of them in initial state rankings — Serra and Folsom — travel to De La Salle. The team that upended their unbeaten streak, No. 21 Saint Francis, also travels to Concord.

Needless to say, there is a load of motivation for the Spartans.

MOST LIKELY SCENARIO

9-1

De La Salle also travels to another ranked squad, No. 22 Cathedral Catholic in San Diego. That’s four top 22 teams not to mention a strong EBAL schedule. The Spartans do have one other streak intact. It hasn’t lost to a North Coast Section team since 1991.

COACH/PLAYER TALK

“Up to this point they’ve kept up their end of the bargain (for new off-season commitment). Their teen-agers and nobody is perfect. The offseason was good and a lot of buy-in. It’s the new attitude of old. We had a guest speaker today, Bob Ladouceur and he spoke of some old-school things. The things that have made De La Salle — toughness, accountability, grit and camaraderie — we’ve been really focused on since January. I’m happy with the progress they made. But you put pads on it’s a whole new progression. We’ll see how we come along.’

– Justin Alumbaugh

“If we reach our ultimate potential it should result in a state championship. We’re talented enough. It’s all about how we come out here and perform every day.”

– Derek Thompson