A hunger. An unknown.
One the Laguna Beach High boys' water polo team possesses, the other, is how the Breakers might appear to their 2013 opponents.
So says Laguna Coach Ethan Damato, who begins his seventh year with the program, the last six as head coach. He starts the new season with plenty of depth and talent on a team that annually takes its hits on talent lost to graduation, but one that continually reloads.
That reloading is needed: gone to graduation in June were five players who last year attained All-Orange Coast League and All-CIF Southern Section Division 2 status.
"I'm really excited about the upcoming season and this group of guys," said Damato, who seven years ago served as co-head coach of the program before taking over as solo head coach. "They are a hungry group and I think they will play with a chip on their shoulder as I don't think the rest of the division knows how good we can be.
"If we can play disciplined and improve all season long, I think we will be in the mix come playoff time. Our goal as a team will be to win league and play for a CIF championship."
Since the inception of the Orange Coast League, Laguna has ruled the coop. The Breakers have won seven consecutive league championships.
Laguna last year again went undefeated in OCL play and then beat Claremont and Murrieta Valley in the CIF Division 2 playoffs. The Breakers bowed out of title contention in their first year in the division following a 9-7 semifinal loss to Santa Barbara.
The teams again met Sept. 19 when Laguna travels to Santa Barbara.
Back from last year's semifinals team are three starters: utility player Jack Dodson, driver Cade Baldridge, and defender/driver Aki Andersen, all juniors. Also returning and joining this year's starting lineup are key players, senior driver Trevor Collins and junior driver Nolan Del Toro both of whom saw plenty of playing time last year.
The Breakers start preseason workouts Monday and begin their season Sept. 13 at home against Villa Park.
Head Coach: Ethan Damato (seventh year)
Coaching staff: Trevor Lyle (head JV coach); Pierre Masson (head frosh/soph coach, JV assistant); Chris Stansbury (strength trainer).
2012 records: 21-10 overall; 5-0 league (champion)
CIF results: Semifinal round Division 2
Returning starters: Jack Dodson (utility, Jr.); Cade Baldridge (driver, Jr.); Aki Andersen (defender/driver, Jr.).
Key returnees: Trevor Collins (driver, Sr.); Nolan Del Toro (driver, Jr.)
Returning with honors: Jack Dodson (first team all-league).