Once again, Palos Verdes has a target on its back for the Bay League title. In coach Guy Gardner's 10 years at the helm, the Sea Kings have captured at least a share of eight consecutive league titles.
Gardner knows success over the years isn't something this year's team is concerning itself with, yet. The goal, like every other year, is to focus on what it can control.
"Our expectations are kind of the same as every season—more consistency," Gardner said. "We want to be going the right way more often, and we're looking for some solid senior leadership."
While the Sea Kings aren't necessarily thinking about their last game, a 34-20 loss to Lawndale in the CIF Southern Section Division 5 title game, Gardner and his staff saw a lot of learning opportunities that night.
"We found out real fast that you have to be pretty perfect when you're playing a team like Lawndale," Gardner said. "What I look at is not just that game, but on our road to that game, our kids played with great effort and we were fortunate to play through our mistakes. We can't afford to make the mistakes we made last year."
One area Gardner will look to clean up its mistakes is offensively. The Sea Kings return three at the skill positions: quarterback Jake Jellison, receiver Julian Alessi and running back Ryan Wilson.
"It's nice to have guys who know what we're doing, but we're looking for them to be more consistent at it," Gardner said. "They did some good things last year, but we need them to do more. Our expectations go up in regard to reading defenses, and we need them to be more consistent."
Up front, Justin Booth, Tusi Adams and Brandon Clark return, while Tyler Cleveland will look to earn a starting spot after missing his junior season due to a back injury.
Gardner knows just how crucial PV's offensive line play is to its success.
"We go as the guys up front go, and that's the way it is," Gardner said. "I think they're going to work real hard, and I like them as a unit, but we still have to figure that group out."
With PV looking to minimize its mistakes offensively, Gardner is looking for the defensive unit to capitalize on its opponents mistakes.
"Coach (Jim) Hudnall does a tremendous job with the defense, and his whole philosophy and scene is clear to the kids," Gardner said. "There is a good nucleus on defense that we like and have high expectations of, but there are some question marks, too."
Like in years past, PV has a gauntlet of a nonleague schedule. PV plays Mission Hills, Moorpark, Corona Del Mar, San Diego Madison and Culver City in its first five games.
"It's going to be a challenge for the whole team, and we're going to find out real fast where we're at," Gardner said. "We're playing teams that will help you realize what you're not very good at."
PV hosts Mission Hills Friday at 3 p.m.