It's all new for SFGG as they open up their new Pacific Rugby Premiership campaign against Santa Monica.
New SFGG Head Coach Alex Houser has had to deal with a few personnel shifts, as Eagle hooker Chris Biller takes a break and longtime captain Dannny LaPrevotte does also. But the former Cal standout has several recent Cal grads to call upon. Tom Rooke and Neil Barrett are fast becoming central figures in the SFGG pack, while lock Brendan Daly and front-rower Grant Hyjer join and show much promise.
Things are a little more settled out wide, where Mose Timoteo and Volney Rouse are the halfback hinge once more, and Mile Pulu anchors the background.
"We have some good players and some new good players, but we're in a new competition and with me as a new coach there's a lot of adjustments," said Houser. "I think one of the big issues is that we have depth. We're going to need all of our players, and working with our DI team we need to ensure that everyone is part of the effort."
The same could be said of the Santa Monica Dolphins, who see Doug Bratcher take a step back as coach and Greg Cummings, Marc Schterbina, and Shawn Lipman handle the team.
"We have brought in a lot of youngsters," said Cummings. "We are shying away from foreign players just for the sake of foreign players. We want to build a club here."
Coming back from a layoff is longtime Santa Monica star Joe Killefer. The former Dartmouth All American will suit up at No. 8, joining former UCLA All American Dave Martini and another recent Bruin, Steve Yoshida, in what has become a very strong back row.
Another UCLA grad, Martial Chaput, comes in as a wing.
"Santa Monica was founded by former UCLA players, so we have a connection there, and we are working to attract more college kids," said Cummings.
Santa Monica has confidence, said Cummings, but they're not cocky. They know they have a lot of work to get past teams the likes of SFGG. He will look for prop Ross Silverman, healthy after battling injuries and looking to get a USA look, for leadership. Two overseas players will have influence. Former Queensland A prop Trent Anderson adds some experience up front, and French flyhalf Mathieu Lesgourgues adds more French flair (Chaput is also French) to the Dolphin attack.
Certainly not favored, Santa Monica have little to lose, and with SFGG adjusting to a new coach and some personnel changes, the Dolphins might be in position to pull off an early upset.