Empire League Preview: Cypress, Kennedy attempt to move up in standings

Two teams seem to win the Empire League crown every single year: Yorba Linda, which captured the crown last year, and Tustin, which won the year before. In fact, the two schools seem to rotate from the top of the heap.Last year, Cypress High and rival Kennedy, which rarely enters discussion to win the league crown, finished in a two-way tie for third place with 3-3 records.Cypress, which played under second-year head coach and the aging Bob Burt, will once again feature a new head coach – the third since the dismissal of Ray Fenton, who led the program to a successful run a few years ago.Indeed, Cypress has not won a share of the Empire League title since Fenton, who did the deed for the last time in 2011, when it tied with Tustin and Yorba Linda at the top of the standings with a 5-1 mark. That year Tustin bested the squad, handing it a lone loss in league play.It did go 5-0 under Ray Fenton during the 2009 season and defeated La Habra for the CIF title.Feldman, a teacher at Cypress High, landed the position in February. He previously served as an offensive coordinator under Mike Cobleigh, who replaced Fenton.Despite minimal head coaching experience Feldman might provide the Centurions with the stability they need in order to climb back on top of the mountain.This year the squad will return standout Quintin Pounds, who has been on the squad since his freshman season. Pounds, a top wide receiver and defensive back, will provide firepower on offense and help eliminate the opposition’s passing game on defense. He will also likely win accolades at the end of the season.Wide receiver and defensive back Bobby Brito, as well as quarterback Nick Buras will also return to anchor the offense. Sean Roberts, who also played quarterback, will return as well.As for Kennedy, it won the CIF title in 2006, but has not dominated since that season. The program won that title under head coach Mitch Olson, who led the squad to a 29-10 victory against Anaheim in the championship game. Brit Johnson, who currently serves as the team’s head coach took over the following season, and has coached the Irish since.The team will return a slew of returners, though. This includes running back T.J. Williams, who had strong performances last year as a junior.Western High, on the other hand, finished last season with a 4-4 overall record and 2-4 mark in league to occupy the lower half of the standings. It finished ahead of Pacifica (1-5) and Tustin (1-5), the latter which endured a rebuilding year, but never stays down for too long.

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