There's little reason to doubt that the football team can tack on a sixth straight Division III championship this fall. After all, Garrett Bogart returns for his third season as starting quarterback, he'll have a speedy new target in Dons basketball standout Xavier Williams, and starting running back Tony Johnson is back from a serious injury that ended his 2011 season after six games.
But you won't get any bold predictions from Bogart or Cathedral coach Sean Doyle, not at this early stage of the season. The Dons' season starts Aug. 31 with a visit to East County power Steele Canyon, followed by a home game against Del Mar Heights Road neighbor on Sept. 7.
The Dons get a chance to avenge their only loss of 2011 when they host Helix on Sept. 14, and a week later they visit Riverside County powerhouse Vista Murrieta. A home game with Morse on Sept. 28 is the final prep for a tough Eastern League schedule.
"There's a lot of pieces to the puzzle," said Doyle. "I can say I think we're going to be good, but that's if everybody does the best I think they can do. It could be a real fun year. The pieces are there, we just have to make sure we put them together properly."
Bogart, who threw for more than 1,800 yards last season (nearly 140 yards per game) with 19 touchdown passes and only four interceptions, won't get caught looking ahead either.
"We're just trying to repeat what we have going right now and just take it one game at a time," said the senior signal-caller. "CIF will come if we focus on one game at a time. I think we'll be good."
What they have going is five straight CIF titles, including a 12-1 season last year that included six shutouts, with three of those coming in their three playoff games, capped by a 41-0 victory over Olympian for the title. The only game in which the Dons gave up double-figure points was in their 48-14 loss at Helix.
"Defensively, it's going to be hard to follow up what we did last year," said Doyle. "I think we gave up (more than) 10 points only once, had a ridiculous amount of shutouts, and didn't give a point up in the playoffs. We're looking pretty strong there, but we haven't hit anybody yet, so who knows."
Doyle has roughly half his starters returning from last season on both offense and defense.
"Our starting running back last year (Johnson) tore a ligament in his knee about halfway through the season, and he's back," said Doyle. "JJ (Stavola), who we've lost, stepped in and did a great job (1,032 yards rushing, 13 TDs). Garrett will be a third-year starter. Xavier Williams (who will be a wideout) is returning from basketball and hasn't played in a few seasons. Our offensive line is going to be the most inexperienced area.
"Bogart had a great summer (in passing league play). Theo Hardson is back at one of the running backs. He took last year off. Our D-line was strong last year. We have Kyle Davis back, who was only a sophomore, and to me he was really the anchor last season. And we have big EJ (Edward Purifoy Jr.), who's only a sophomore. Our O-line will be big but inexperienced."
Doyle also likes what he sees in the defensive backfield.
"Xavier Ulutu, who played for us on varsity last year but didn't get a lot of time, will move over to inside backer," said the coach. "I think he'll be a big plus. We have Brandon Michel, who didn't get a lot of playing time last season because we had two senior corners, and I think he's going to be tremendous there." Not to mention senor ILB Toshaun Poumele, who as a junior was in on 117 tackles.
Bogart can't wait to target Williams.
"I had Xavier back in freshman year," said the quarterback. "He's a stud, is 6-4, can jump and runs perfect routes. We have some outstanding playmakers, and when I can distribute the ball, it makes my life easier. I have so may weapons this year it's awesome. Plus I have a great offensive line. There are some big boys over there."
So can anyone challenge the Dons, particularly in the Eastern League?
"I think it's going to be a real good league this year across the board," said Doyle. "I think Saints (St. Augustine) are going to be real good, Mira Mesa has a lot of returning kids, and I think Scripps is going to be better. And Lincoln's got some talent returning."
But don't bet against Cathedral.
Find out more about the Dons at their MaxPreps page.