Big things could be in the works for the Laguna Beach High boys' water polo team during the 2014 season.
The Breakers enter the new campaign with 13 lettermen back from a team that last year reached the semifinal round of the CIF Southern Section Division 2 playoffs.
With several returning players back from that squad including four named All-CIF and five earning All-Orange Coast League honors, the Breakers also start the season holding a lofty status: They are ranked No. 1 preseason in the CIF Division 3 poll.
Among the returnees are seniors Jack Dodson and Cade Baldridge who were named co-MVP of the OCL last year and first-team All-CIF, Aki Andersen who was first-team all-league and second-team All-CIF, Jakob Colladay, first-team all-league and third-team All-CIF, and second-team all-league selection Nolan Del Toro.
Senior Garret Hartley returns and will start his second year at goalie.
"I feel like our expectations as a program rarely waiver from year to year," said Laguna Coach Ethan Damato, who enters his seventh year with the program. "We want to compete to our highest potential as a team, do our best, and be the last team standing at the end of the year at CIF.
"This year, I think we have some bigger goals as a group and expect a lot out of each other both during the regular season and the playoffs. We really want to break into the top four of one, if not all, the major tournaments this year and this group is capable of that. I'm trying to talk to these guys about focusing less on the results and more about doing everything right and doing our best, as I said. I think if we do that the results and success will be a bi-product."
Under Damato, Laguna has owned the Orange Coast League title, reached no worse than the semifinal round of the CIF-SS playoffs, and won back-to-back CIF titles (Division 3) in 2010-11. The past two years, the Breakers played up in Division 2. For 2014, they return to Division 3.
Laguna has won all eight OCL titles since the league's inception (2006-07 school year). The Breakers are 40-0 all-time in league play during that span.
The Breakers launch their season Tuesday in San Diego. They travel to face Cathedral Catholic at 3 p.m. Later in the season, they'll compete at the Santa Barbara, South Coast and North-South tournaments.
2014 Laguna Beach Boys' Water Polo
League: Orange Coast
CIF division: Division 3
Head coach: Ethan Damato (7th year)
2013 record: 19-12 overall; 5-0 league (champion)
2013 CIF results: Reached semifinal round of playoffs; lost to eventual champion Agoura.
Returning varsity players: Jack Dodson, utility, Sr.; Cade Baldridge, attacker, Sr.; Aki Andersen, ATT, Sr.; Jakob Colladay, UTL., Jr.; Nolan Del Toro, ATT., Sr.; Garret Hartley, goalie, Sr.; Trent Sadler, defender, Sr.; Greyson Benson, UTL., Sr.; Connor Hauer, ATT., Sr.
Returning with honors: Jack Dodson (league co-MVP, first-team All-CIF); Cade Baldridge (league co-MVP, first-team All-CIF); Aki Andersen (first-team all-league, second-team All-CIF); Jakob Colladay (first-team all-league, third-team All-CIF); Nolan Del Toro (second-team all-league).
Varsity newcomers: Sebastian Jacobs, defender, Fr.