Small in numbers but big in experience and talent.
That's how Coach Bruce Eien describes his 2010 Brethren Christian High football team, a 19-player squad that is in its final full week of preparations for the upcoming season, which begins Sept. 2.
Eien, who is in his 14th year as coach and 30th overall with the program, has 11 starters back from a team that went 5-5 in 2009. The Warriors went 1-2 and finished third in the Academy League and just missed making the postseason.
Of those 11 returners, seven are on offense and four of them — senior defensive tackle Bob Frisch (first team) and senior free safety Alex Debardelaben (second team) and junior linebackers Bryant Freese (second team) and Jonathan Vazquez (second team) — were all-league.
The Warriors' spread offense will be led by junior quarterback Sam Franklin, who Eien said is a "very good passer" but is "a better runner." Franklin will be protected by an experienced line that returns four starters: Frisch, who Eien dubs the team's "go-to" lineman, will work alongside seniors Kevin Wu and Daniel Wade and junior Larry Wade. Newcomers to the line are Max Ransom, Daniel Lee and Erick Fischer.
Frisch, Eien said, is being pursued by Nevada, UNLV and Northern Arizona.
The Warriors lost top rusher Ryan Randle (1,495 yards) to graduation and stepping into his role is junior Brandon White, a power-type rusher. Vazquez and Debardelaben also will run the ball, Eien said.
One of the team's major strengths is its defensive line. Frisch, Wu and brothers Daniel and Larry Wade, key that line. The unit also has an experienced backfield in Freese, Vazquez and White
"Frisch is a load and will be a dominant force on the defense," Eien said. "Bryant Freese, Jonathan Vazquez and Brandon White lead an experienced linebacker core that should make our defense solid."
The kicking game benefits from the return of Levi Duren, who last year kicked a 45-yard field goal in a game.
Brethren Christian will host a 3 p.m. Friday scrimmage against Maranatha. The Warriors officially launch their 10-game regular-season schedule Sept. 2 with a 3 p.m. contest at Pasadena Poly. The Panthers and Chadwick, both of the Prep League, figure to test the Warriors in nonleague play.
When it comes to the Academy League, Eien calls defending league and CIF champion St. Margaret's the "class of the league." He said he sees his Warriors and Sage Hill battling for the league's second and final playoff berth.
Brethren Christian Warriors
Head coach: Bruce Eien (14th year)
Coaching Staff: Dan Freese (defensive coordinator); Jeff Melton (defensive backs); Dan Cadwallader (linebackers); Pat McInally (wide receivers); Bruce Orr (quarterbacks); Dave Oakley (running backs); Jim Pederson (offensive, defensive lines).
2009 record: 5-5 overall; 1-2 league (third place)
Type of offense: Spread
Type of defense: 4-3
Returning starters offense: 7
Returning starters defense: 4
Last year qualify for CIF: 2008
Last year won CIF title: 1972
Season opener: at Pasadena Poly, Sept. 2 (3 p.m.)
Sept. 2: at Pasadena Poly (3 p.m.)
Sept. 10: vs. Bloomington Christian (6:30 p.m.)
Sept. 17: vs. Century (6:30 p.m.)
Sept. 24: vs. Saddleback Valley Christian (6:30 p.m.)
Oct. 1: at St. Anthony (7 p.m.)
Oct. 9: at Chadwick (1 p.m.)
Oct. 22: at Xavier Prep (7 p.m.)
Oct. 29: at *Crean Lutheran (7 p.m.)
Nov. 5: vs. *Sage Hill (6:30 p.m.)
Nov. 12: at *St. Margaret's (7 p.m.)
(* denotes Academy League game)