With a 42-28 win over Ventura (Calif.) St Bonaventure Friday night, San Juan Capistrano (Calif.) J Serra is setting a precedent as a true contender in the Trinity League this year.
The Lions have experience on both sides of the ball with several returning starters, showing strength on offense as well as a defense that can compete with the best in the league.
The experienced Lions defense is lead by versatile senior D.J. Bailey, who is one to watch this season.
The 6-3, 250-pound senior has dominated on defense this year, and has contributed on offense when needed with a handful of touchdowns on the season.
“We finally got one of our other running backs back so I was able to specialize on defense this week,” said Bailey. “I think as a defense, we worked really hard this week on that side of the ball.”
Bailey, who was a first team all-Trinity League defensive selection last year, showed explosive speed and power off the edge and contributed to two out of the five sacks laid on St. Bonaventure’s Ricky Town.
“That was definitely a part of the game plan coming into this week,” said Bailey. “We knew we just wanted to put a lot of pressure on the backfield and I think we did a good job of that.”
Bailey verbally committed to Yale in July, but has been hearing from other schools as well.
“I still have other schools looking at me, but the only ones I’ve really been talking to aside from Yale are UCLA and Harvard,” said Bailey. “I’m planning an official visit to Yale, and my dad wants to take me to Harvard to see it.”
Though the majority of the attention he has gotten is from the Ivy Leagues, Bailey has his eyes on some Pac-12 schools as well.
“My ideal school would be out of state, but if I had to stay in California I definitely would want UCLA or Stanford. Academics are important to me so ideally I’d want a program that showcases that as well,” said Bailey.
In fact, UCLA Defensive Line Coach Angus McClure was in attendance Friday, which indicates that UCLA is at least a bit serious about Bailey, using one of McClure's valuable nights out to watch him.
As JSerra seeks to continue an undefeated season as they head into league play, Bailey is focusing on perfecting his skills and competing at the toughest level possible.
“Our goal is to get that playoff berth, it’s tough in our league but if we can do it any year this is the team we can do it with,” said Bailey. “I’m going to do all I can to make that happen.”