A few years ago, their goal was just to field a team.
Now San Diego Jewish Academy’s football program is growing surprisingly fast.
After posting a 5-2 record and just barely missing making the playoffs last season, a program that could barely field an 8-man team as recently as two years ago has seen its numbers swell to upwards of 25.
And despite some tough graduation losses, the Lions appear to be building on their momentum from last season. They opened the season with an impressive 58-14 nonleague victory over Christian Life Academy on Aug. 31.
“To grow the program while you’re winning, the two just go hand in hand,” Lions coach Skip Carpowich said.
The Lions won with a mostly inexperienced team after graduating nine seniors, the most notable of which was quarterback Jordan Battaglia, a four-year starter and inspirational leader.
“We have an untested team with some of the new guys,” Carpowich said. “A lot of new guys have not played contact football much less varsity tackle football.”
Senior quarterback and team captain Sebastian Mayer rushed for three touchdowns to lead the Lions.
Some of the team’s new faces made an impact too.
Junior Ruben Veinberg completed a touchdown pass to Mark Mizrahi. Veinberg, who plays with Mayer in a dual quarterback system, also rushed for a touchdown.
Sagie Shpigelman, a first-year junior, rushed for two touchdowns.
Junior Boris Derechin, also a first-year player, had an interception in front of the goal line on the CLA’s first possession that turned the momentum of the game early, Carpowich said.
Junior linebackers Josh Nachassi and Joe Vilenski led the Lions defensively and freshman Ethan Rodriguez recovered on-side kick attempts.
Torrey Pines defeated Archbishop Mitty of San Jose 3-1 (25-23, 22-25, 25-23, 25-23) in a nonleague game on Sept. 2.
Jaden Whitmarsh had 24 kills to lead the Falcons.
Kiara McNulty had 27 assists, Emily Fitzner had 23 assists and 12 kills and Dani Fornaciari added 13 kills.
The Falcons opened the season with a 3-2 (17-25, 25-22, 25-22, 23-25 15-11) nonleague victory over Cathedral Catholic on Aug. 29.
Whitmarsh had 21 kills and Fitzner had 14 kills and 30 assists to lead the Falcons.
McNulty had 25 assists and Kendra Ham had 11 kills.
Lindsey Miller had 18 kills to lead the Dons and Jaalyn Sotoa added 12 kills.
Dons setter Kylie Adams had 43 assists.
The Falcons lost to Marymount of Los Angeles 3-2 (25-21, 29-27, 16-25, 18-25, 17-15) in a nonleague game on Sept. 2.
Whitmarsh had 14 kills to lead the Falcons and Fitzner had 13 kills.
The Falcons improved to 2-1 overall for the season and the Dons fell to 0-2.
La Costa Canyon defeated La Jolla 3-1 (25-21, 20-25, 25-23, 25-17) in its season opener on Aug. 23.
Katie Lougeay had 15 kills to lead the Mavericks. Morgan Lewis had 12 kills and Jesse Lumsden had 11 kills.
Mavericks setter Mia Schafer had 32 assists.
Canyon Crest Academy defeated Corona Del Mar 3-1 (25-16, 25-23, 26-28, 24-14) in a nonleague game on Sept. 2.
Evie Gonzalez had 16 kills to lead the Ravens and setter Olivia Lovenberg had 24 assists.
The Ravens opened the season with a 3-2 (25-19, 25-18, 23-25, 17-25, 15-12) nonleague victory over Cathedral Catholic on Aug. 31 in which Gonzalez had 15 kills, Hannah Martin had 14 kills.
Olivia Schewe and Syndey Ely each had 10 kills and Lovenberg had 46 assists.
The Ravens lost to Archbishop Mitty 3-0 (25-19, 25-21, 25-23) on Sept. 2.
Gonzalez had 13 kills and Lovenberg had 27 assists.
The Ravens improved to 2-1 overall for the season.
San Dieguito Academy defeated Mater Dei Academy 7-6 in overtime in a Rancho Bernardo Varsity Tournament game on Aug. 26.
Nate Conger scored two goals and had one assist and Matheus Gensler scored two goals to lead the Mustangs.
SDA goalie Gavin Silberman had 13 saves.
The Mustangs improved to 5-2 overall for the season.