This year’s Salpointe Catholic football team has some big shoes to fill.
The defending state champions host Sierra Vista Buena tonight to kick off the 2014 season. Coach Dennis Bene must replace 15 starters from last year’s undefeated team, including two players — Cam Denson and Kaelin DeBoskie — who moved on to the UA.
Here’s a look at four Salpointe newcomers who are eager to step up:
Vitals: 6 feet, 170 pounds, senior
Who he’s replacing: Quarterback Andrew Cota. Cota left Salpointe after posting 6,635 career passing yards and 71 passing touchdowns in three seasons.
Similarity: Muniz has been in the Lancers program for three years, so he has a good understanding of the offensive system.
Toughest task: Matching the experience and confidence of Cota. Muniz may struggle as first with mastering the finer nuances of the Lancers’ system.
Quotable: “He’s got big shoes to fill. Andrew will go down as one of the best to ever play quarterback at Salpointe. I think once Muniz gets some game reps under his belt, you should see his production get better each week” — Bene
Vitals: 6 feet 1 inch, 180 pounds, senior
Who he’s replacing: Safety Jay Williams. Williams was a first-team all-state selection who finished his senior season with 64 tackles, three sacks and with one interception.
Similarity: Pedrotty carries a 4.0 grade point average, just like Williams, who is now a freshman at Brown University. The similarities don’t stop there: Both are physical players who have great closing speed.
Toughest task: He’s not as polished or experienced as Williams and may need a few games to get comfortable.
Quotable: “Dominic runs really well, he’s taller and longer than Jay. He’s very disciplined, I expect him to be a coach on the field.” — Bene
Vitals: 6 feet 3 inches, 225 pounds, junior
Who he’s replacing: Linebacker Jake Casteel. Casteel, now at NAU, finished second in Arizona with 163 total tackles his senior year. He also recorded six forced fumbles and 10 sacks.
Similarity: Both are physical, coachable and have tireless work ethics. Ksiazek tries to model that part of his game after Casteel.
Toughest task: Leadership. Casteel wasn’t much of a rah-rah guy, but he was always in the right spot and there for his teammates.
Quotable: “He improves every day, and he’s very physical. He’s much bigger than Jake (Casteel). That’ll help him make some plays out on the perimeter.” — Bene
Vitals: 6 feet, 170 pounds, freshman
Who he’s replacing: Denson and DeBoskie. Denson was an all-state wide receiver in 2013, catching 73 passes for 1,453 yards and 19 touchdowns. DeBoskie caught 55 passes for 954 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Similarity: Like Denson and DeBoskie, Joiner has maturity and speed, and is a student of the game. Joiner could also see time at quarterback, like Denson did a year ago.
Toughest task: Filling the shoes and living up to the expectations of being labeled “the next Cam Denson.”
Quotable: “Honestly, I have mad respect for Cam, I don’t have anything against him. But, me personally, I feel I can do better. I want to build my own legacy in the program. He’s a good player, and it’s good for me to be compared to one of the best players to come out of Salpointe.” — Joiner