By Joe Naiman
With June graduation, Ramona High School’s boys water polo team lost 11 seniors, and the Bulldog squad has only two returning starters from last year.
“The first part of the year’s going to be a transitional period,” said Coach Donnie Williams. “We’re still a young team.”
The returning starters are senior goalie Isaac Gross and junior Jesse Reiling.
Several of last year’s reserves and junior varsity players participated in club competition over the summer.
“It’s a pretty talented bunch of kids,” said Williams. “A lot of them did a lot of off-season stuff.”
Gross will be one of two seniors on this year’s team; Ian Jacoway did not start last year. Gross is an all-league player from 2011.The Bulldogs were in the Palomar League last year and return to the Valley League this year.
The Palomar League schedule gave Ramona a league record of 0-10 in 2011. A loss to La Costa Canyon in the first round of the CIF Division II playoffs ended the Bulldogs’ season with a final 9-21 record.
Ramona will open this season against La Costa Canyon, hosting the Mavericks on Sept. 4.
Williams expects to have 12 players on his varsity roster, including seven juniors and three seniors, and he will also shuttle some junior varsity players when the Bulldogs play in tournaments such as the Sept. 6-8 Poway Invitational.
A total of 35 boys tried out for Ramona’s teams, and two of those dropped out. Williams made no cuts and has 33 players in his program.
“That’s not bad at all,” he said. “That’s a solid turnout.”
The numbers will allow Ramona to field a junior varsity team and a novice squad this year.
“We’ve got a bunch of good kids here,” Williams said. “They work together. That’s huge. It’s going to be a good year.”