By Steve Breazeale
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The energy and buzz surrounding the Dana Hills High School football team in recent weeks took a considerable hit on Aug. 24 when head coach Phil Skinner learned that Connor McCloud, the team’s senior leader and running back, had transferred to Tesoro.
Just days before the Dolphins were set to open their season on the road against Tustin on Aug. 28; they are now down their top returning offensive weapon. McCloud was also slated to be a starting cornerback and top kick returner.
The Dolphins are young this season and, with McCloud gone, they will be even younger. But Skinner and his staff have been busy this offseason instilling a new up-tempo offense that they feel best suits their personnel.
The Dolphins offense will be run by sophomore Corey Cisowski, who has won the starting quarterback job. Surrounding him will be utility junior Charlie Bortnick and junior receiver Ryder Lynch.
Bortnick’s role on the team is vast. Skinner said that Bortnick will line up at receiver, occasionally play quarterback and will be a safety on defense.
The Tillers come into the season with their top returning player, quarterback Alema Pilimai, running the show. The 6-foot-4-inch dual-threat quarterback has offers from both BYU and Oregon State and will test the entire Dolphins defense. The Tillers’ running game should be strong this year behind Pilimai and returning junior running back Derek Soto.
The Dolphins’ defensive front, anchored by defensive end Christian Cortez and linebacker Juan Moreira, will be responsible for stopping the Tillers’ potent run game.
Dana Hills opened their 2014 season against the Tillers. Tustin came away with a 20-14 win.
The obstacles the Dolphins have had to overcome this offseason include a large senior class graduating, the resignation of their former head coach and a swath of transfers. McCloud’s transfer will hurt their depth and it will only be a matter of time to see how the Dolphins react to yet another bump in the road.