Seton Catholic Sentinels
Division IV, Section II
Coach: Rex Bowser
Last year’s record: 12-1, lost to Blue Ridge in the Division IV state semifinals
Returning offensive starters: 7, including quarterback Ryan Bresnahan, who threw for 3,291 yards with 51 touchdowns and four interceptions last season.
Returning defensive starters: 6, including linebacker Eric Probst, who had 114 tackles, three interceptions and a sack last year.
Aug. 24 vs. Fountain Hills; Aug. 31 vs. Coronado; Sept. 7 at Tempe Prep; Sept. 14 vs. San Tan Foothills; Sept. 21 at Maricopa; Sept. 28 vs. Combs; Oct. 5 vs. Canyon State; Oct. 12 at Higley; Oct. 19 at Tempe; Oct. 26 at Bourgade Catholic.
Aug. 24 vs. Fountain Hills: Seton Catholic’s closest regular season game last year came in the opener against Fountain Hills. The Sentinels played poorly but still escaped with a 20-13 victory. With 13 starters back, a faster start is expected.
Sept. 14 vs. San Tan Foothills: There are few teams on Seton’s schedule that have the ability to hang with the Sentinels. San Tan Foothills went 8-5 last season and led Seton by 14 points early before losing, 49-22. Maybe this is one game that could be competitive, but Seton should still be a sizable favorite.
Oct. 12 at Higley: A schedule change added the Knights this year, and while it’s an uptick in competition, that’s a good thing. Seton’s schedule is not very difficult, and a matchup with Higley will be a good challenge late in the year as the team prepares for the postseason.
A drop down in classification did wonders for Seton last season, as the team rolled to an undefeated regular season and advanced to the Division IV state semifinals before losing to Lakeside Blue Ridge.
It was a big step forward for Seton after several years of being on the playoff bubble in 4A-II. With many key pieces returning and the experience of a playoff run guiding them, the Sentinels are expected to be in the state championship conversation this year.
“Our kids got a taste of it,” Seton coach Rex Bowser said. “They also got their eyes opened and they see exactly what it takes.”
Quarterback Ryan Bresnahan will play a big role in the team’s fortunes after throwing for 3,291 yards with 51 touchdowns and only four interceptions a season ago.
He loses top receiver Adam Englebert, but Matt Haggerty (42 catches, 718 yards, 10 TD) leads a group of wideouts that Bowser believes can be better than last year’s group.
Leading rusher A.J. Ciferno graduates, but backup Eric Probst (56 carries for 352 yards, 5 TD) averaged nearly two more yards per carry than Ciferno and returns as the featured back.
The defense looked good for much of the season, but when the competition stiffened in the semifinals, the Sentinels did not have an answer for the Blue Ridge running game. Bowser said that has been a point of emphasis in practice.
“We’ve made no secret that there were times last year that our run defense got pretty soft,” Bowser said. “Our pass defense did pretty well. Our run defense needs improvement.”
Seton returns all three of its starting linebackers and their backups, so the pieces are in place for improvement. The Sentinels’ schedule does get a little tougher with the addition of Higley in mid-October, but overall it is not very challenging and Seton should again enter the postseason with a gaudy record.
With freshman and junior varsity teams that went undefeated last season, Seton seems to be positioning itself as a power for the foreseeable future. But there is no talk of state championship expectations.
"We’ve got one goal, and that is to win one game each week,” Bowser said. “We don’t look ahead. We don’t set down numbers as goals. The one thing you have to do every week is respect your opponent. If you start looking forward someone will sneak up and bite you.”