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Bellarmine Prep High’s football team might consider changing its logo from a Bell to a Question Mark for the 2012 season. The Central Coast Section...

Bellarmine Prep High’s football team might consider changing its logo from a Bell to a Question Mark for the 2012 season. The Central Coast Section Bells bookended their stellar 2011 campaign with tough losses – falling 26-23 in double-overtime to De La Salle-Concord in Week 1 and 42-37 to Santa Margarita- Rancho Santa Margarita in the CIF Division I State Championship Bowl Game — to finish 12-2 with a CCS title game win over Palo Alto.


This came on the heels of a 9-3 2010 season, meaning that the core group of Bells went 21-5 over two impressive varsity seasons. And then they all left.


“We started 9 or 10 seniors on both sides of the ball last year,” coach Mike Janda said. “We graduated, well, the whole team. We are extremely young and inexperienced.”

Despite the high attrition rate, Bellarmine’s established track record has pundits picking the Bells to maintain a certain standard. has Bellarmine slotted at No. 4 in its preseason rankings.


That comes in part thanks to 6-foot, 3-inch, 210-pound junior signal caller K.J. Carta-Samuels. Despite not having played a down of varsity football, Carta-Samuels already has committed to play football in the South Eastern Conference when he’s done in San Jose. Carta-Samuels so impressed coaches at Vanderbilt’s summer camp that they offered him a scholarship, and he accepted.


“He went to their camp and they were impressed,” Janda said. “I’m very excited to see how he performs in our offense. The jump from junior varsity to varsity is a big one, so we’re expecting some growing pains.”


Fortunately for the Bells, they have never been a throw-first offense, meaning Carta-Samuels can ease into his role.


Spearheading that effort will be senior running backs Aaron Chapman and Joey Sanfilippo. Chapman blew out a knee and missed the 2011 campaign. Sanfilippo started at linebacker last year.


“They’re both great kids and have some speed,” Janda said.


Senior fullback Matt Helmers “” a backup in 2011 “” should help clear the way.


San Jose State-commit, outside linebacker Kenneth Olugbode, returns to lead the defensive charge for the Bells. He and fellow senior, defensive tackle Alex Abiog, should solidify a talented but inexperienced defense. Both will also see time at tight end.


Last year’s leading receiver Jared Vallner also returns to give Carta-Samuels a solid primary target. Vallner will also start at safety in the Bells’ 3-5-3 defense.


 “It’s going to be a challenge,” Janda said. “The season depends on how well these guys grow and progress. We’ve had a great run with excellent players. This year is a little different due to the severity of the losses. It’s very important for us to find out what these guys do best “” that’s our job as coaches. 


“If we can throw more, we will. If we can spread it out more, we will. The coaching this year is really important, because we have great kids and they are ready to go.”


Our predicted league champions for each CCS 11-man FB league

MISSION TRAIL: Carmel; RB Holden Smith and LB Misha Polovneff are two of 10 returners from 12-1 squad.

MONTEREY BAY GABILAN: Palma-Salinas; Superior interior play plus super skills of Marcus Washington equals first MBG title.

MONTEREY BAY PACIFIC: Seaside; With 16 returning starters and key transfers, always talented Spartans will turn around 2-8 season.

MOUNT HAMILTON: Oak Grove-San Jose; 11 starters return to perennial power led by TE-OLB Will Ossai.

PENINSULA BAY: Terra Nova-Pacifica; Watch for QB K’ren Spain to put up massive numbers.

PENINSULA LAKE: Capuchino-San Bruno; RB Justin Ewing might just lead the CCS in rushing.

PENINSULA OCEAN: South San Francisco; One of Frank Moro’s more talented teams led by WR/CB Robert Johnson, RB Keven Cunha.

SANTA CRUZ COAST: Aptos; Not much experience, but Randy Blankenship always has Mariners peaking.

SANTA TERESA: Leigh-San Jose; QB Gabe Davis returns after accounting for almost 2,400 yards and 26 TDs in 2011.

SCVAL DE ANZA: Palo Alto; Top-end talent like Keller Chryst helps, but Paly is perennial power due to superior coaching.

SCVAL EL CAMINO: Monta Vista-Cupertino; The Matadors return 18 starters for 7-3 team including QB Nathan Facciolla.  

WEST CATHOLIC: Bellarmine Prep-San Jose; A three-peat in the WCAL is major accomplishment.

WEST VALLEY: Del Mar-San Jose; The Dons return 10 from last year’s 7-4 team including stud OL Edardo Balderas (6-5, 270).


EDITOR’S NOTE: The CCS does not set their divisions in advance of the postseason, so these are attempts at educated guesses as to which teams could fall where.


TOP TEAMS TO WATCH (2011 record): Bellarmine Prep-San Jose (12-2), Oak Grove-San Jose (9-2), Palo Alto (10-3), Serra-San Mateo (11-2), Palma-Salinas (11-1-1).

EARLY OFFENSIVE MVP: Eric Redwood, RB, Serra


SURPRISE CONTENDER: Valley Christian-San Jose



With the exception of Palo Alto’s 2010 Open title, this has been Bellarmine’s show for the past four years. Many think it could be Bellarmine’s show again, even though they are replacing starters at 18 (!!) positions. They do have an SEC-bound QB in K.J. Carta-Samuels (Vanderbilt), which definitely helps.

But we think this is as wide open (pun intended) as a race as it’s ever been for this title.

And in competitions that are up for grabs, the wise play is to look for teams that have been there before. Hence, Bellarmine. And Palo Alto, which boasts rising QB star Keller Chryst. Oak Grove (2007 Open champs) return 11 starters from a nine-win team while Serra (2011 Div. I champs) may have the best tailback AND defense of all the top contenders.

Plus, don’t sleep on a Palma (2011 Div. IV champs) team loaded with three-year staters.




TOP TEAMS TO WATCH (2011 record): Milpitas (8-4), Piedmont Hills-San Jose (4-6), Menlo-Atherton (9-4), Mountain View (6-4-1)

EARLY OFFENSIVE MVP: Marcus Jones, RB, Mountain View

EARLY DEFENSIVE MVP: Vita Vea, DL, Milpitas  


BREAKDOWN: Milpitas is likely to come into this tournament the most battle-tested after drudging its way through an ever-improving De Anza League.

The Trojans also return 12 starters and some of the best defensive talent in the CCS behind Vea and defensive back Squally Canada. Piedmont Hills (2010 Div. I champ) should be reloaded and expect Mountain View to be very good on offense as three-year returning RB Marcus Jones joins six other returning starters.

Wilcox may have been a one-and-done team a year ago, but the Chargers return 11 starters and will be adding members from a 10-0 junior varsity squad.

CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTION: Milpitas over Mountain View


TOP TEAMS TO WATCH (2011 record): Los Gatos (10-1-1), Leland-San Jose (9-2), St. Ignatius-S.F. (6-6-1), Pioneer-San Jose (9-4), South San Francisco (9-3).

EARLY OFFENSIVE MVP: Kenny Portera, RB/WR, Leland

EARLY DEFENSIVE MVP: Noah Bull, LB, St. Ignatius




There’s a good chance this division boils down to a rematch of last year’s final in which Los Gatos triumphed over Pioneer 28-21.

Both squads return at least 10 starters and proven track records. Pioneer may have the preseason edge on the Wildcats as it returns it’s top two skill position players on offense from a year ago — do-everything back Dominic Barnes and bruising running back Russell Neely.


Los Gatos loses its 2,700-yard RB, Garrett Zeiter, but should make up for it with this year’s senior tandem of Matt Etterman and Max Herman. Both averaged more than 11 yds/carry in backup duties a year ago. St. Ignatius (2011 Div. III champs) and Leland (5-seed in Open Division a year ago) are both teams to monitor.

Leigh, just an 8-seed in Div. II a year ago, could be much more this year behind returning QB Gabe Davis.



TOP TEAMS TO WATCH (2011 record): Sacred Heart Cathedral-S.F. (7-6), Terra Nova-Pacifica (8-3), Del Mar-San Jose (7-4), Aptos (9-2), Monterey (8-3)

EARLY OFFENSIVE MVP: K’ren Spain, QB, Terra Nova 

EARLY DEFENSIVE MVP: Shaunne Katoa, LB, Monterey




Last season, the only Div. III playoff game in which at least one team didn’t reach 35 points was the final. St. Ignatius topped Sacred Heart Cathedral 21-14.

Expect more of the same this year with Terra Nova potentially being the poster child with K’ren Spain leading the Tigers with his arm and his legs.

Sacred Heart Cathedral could certainly be back in the mix after only graduating two seniors from a year ago.

Del Mar, which got blown out as the 8-seed a year ago, returns 10 starters (six of which are on offense). However, the teams with the most experience are Monterey and Seaside, each of which bring back 16 starters.

For Monterey, that includes Shaunne Kotoa, a first-team All-State Underclass selection a year ago.



TOP TEAMS TO WATCH (2010 record): Sacred Heart Prep-Atherton (8-4), Carmel (11-2), Scotts Valley (8-3), Menlo School-Atherton (7-4)

EARLY OFFENSIVE MVP: Holden Smith, RB, Carmel

EARLY DEFENSIVE MVP: Daniel Thaure, S, Sacred Heart Prep-Atherton


BREAKDOWN: Palma won this division with ease a year ago, but we’re anticipating the Chieftains earn a higher classification this year. So that leaves golden opportunities for teams like Carmel and Sacred Heart Prep, both of which feature experience and were right in the thick of the title race in 2011.

The two teams are likely on a collision course and are apt to get there in very different ways. Carmel will shine behind it’s offensive attack anchored by RB Holden Smith whereas Sacred Heart Prep will thrive behind a defense with nine returning starters.

If Capuchino falls into this division, keep an eye on the Mustangs and RB Justin Ewing.

CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTION: Carmel over Sacred Heart Prep


Our pick for the best CCS-related game on each week of the regular season schedule. 

8/31   Bellarmine Prep-San Jose vs. De La Salle-Concord, 7 pm

9/7   Archbishop Mitty-San Jose vs Leland-San Jose, 7 pm

9/14   Los Gatos at Oak Grove-San Jose, 7 pm

9/21   Palma-Salinas at Seaside, 7:30 pm

9/28   Milpitas at Palo Alto, 7:30 pm

10/5   Sequoia-Redwood City at South San Francisco, 7 pm

10/13  Bellarmine Prep at Serra-San Mateo, 1 pm

10/19  Los Gatos at Palo Alto, 7:30 pm

10/27  Bellarmine at St. Ignatius-S.F., 1 pm

11/2   Terra Nova-Pacifica at Menlo-Atherton, 7 pm

11/9   Leland at Oak Grove, 7 pm

By BILL KOLB | Contributor


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