ORINDA -- The Miramonte High football team's offense is in good hands this year.
With quarterback Drew Anderson and a host of experienced receivers back in the fold, the Matadors have the potential to put up some big numbers in the passing game.
And though it does have some holes to fill, Miramonte -- which has two runner up finishes and a league championship in the past three years -- again figures to be a major player in the Diablo Foothill Athletic League title race.
The offense centers around Anderson, who was prolific as a junior despite missing about half the season with a shoulder injury. He got hurt in the first game of the season, but returned to direct four straight wins before a loss to eventual champion Marin Catholic-Kentfield in the second round of the North Coast Section Division III playoffs.
"He's worked hard," Miramonte coach Jack Schram said of Anderson. "I think he has the best arm of probably any quarterback in Northern California. We just need to keep him healthy and he'll be a huge weapon."
Though playmakers Zati Williams and Marshall Deutz have graduated, Anderson still has plenty of capable receivers to throw to, including seniors Dominic Paoletti and Will Fuller. Anderson's sophomore brother, Ryan, will be another target.
With senior Bennet Stehr the only returning starter on the offensive line, the bigger challenge will be protecting Anderson.
"I don't think anyone was able to stop us in the passing league," Schram said. "We just have to be able to protect when guys start rushing and we have to be able to run the ball better."
Schram is counting on Matt Lavis and Ray Clark to get the running game going. Lavis is the team's most experienced running back while Clark shifts to the backfield after playing receiver last year.
"We just have to see how the lines fill in," Schram said. "The skill guys have been doing a great job all summer."
Defensively, the Matadors are led by returning starting linebackers Jonathan McDonald and Stehr.
Miramonte will face a stiff test right away when it travels to Marin Catholic on Aug. 31 for its season opener.
The Wildcats played in last year's Division III state bowl game and handed Miramonte two of its five losses last season.
Quarterback Morgan Mahalak, an Oregon commit, should challenge the Matadors' defense.
"It's a great test, they're a great program," Schram said. "That first game will give us a good indication of where we're at."
8/31 at Marin Catholic 2 p.m.
9/6 ST. MARY'S 7 p.m.
9/13 at Analy-Sebastapol 7 p.m.
9/20 ALAMEDA 7 p.m.
9/27 DUBLIN* 7 p.m.
10/4 at Campolindo* 7 p.m.
10/11 ACALANES* 7 p.m.
10/25 at Dougherty Valley* 7 p.m.
11/1 LAS LOMAS* 7 p.m.
11/8 at Alhambra* 7 p.m.
More football coverage
Look for more high school football preview stories in next week's Lamorinda Sun, and online at www.contracostatimes.com/high-school-sports