High school football coaches say to expect Palos Verdes, South Torrance and Serra to bounce back, Miraleste and North Torrance to stay aloft and Bishop Montgomery to take a few games in the Angelus League. Please.
See if Hawthorne opponents erect speed bumps on their fields.
Watch for teams to avoid Serra's Rocen Keeton, the Cavaliers' version of the Terminator. Look for North Torrance lineman Jim Tulette in a new position, centering the ball.
The Ocean League competition may be down a little from last year, the Bay League should be better and competitive battles are forecast in the Camino Real and Pioneer leagues as CIF high school football opens this week.
A preseason poll of coaches indicates that the usual perennial favorites are as strong as ever--Santa Monica in the Bay League, North Torrance in the Ocean, Miraleste in the Pioneer, Verbum Dei in the Camino Real--but no runaways are foreseen.
After a few seasons of reloading, Palos Verdes and South Torrance appear to be Bay League contenders again, as does Serra in the Camino Real and Leuzinger in the Pioneer. And coaches are predicting some dark horses like Hawthorne in the Ocean League and Mary Star of the Sea in the Camino Real.
Here are how the races shape up:
Bay League (Coastal Conference)--Santa Monica is again the heavy favorite, returning seven starters including all-CIF quarterback Pat O'Hara (1,976 yards and 23 TDs passing last year) and running backs Eric Davis and Cedric Burris. A young line is Santa Monica's question mark.
Palos Verdes, South Torrance and West Torrance should be the others battling for playoff spots.
Palos Verdes, a surprise contender last season, won't surprise anyone this year. Coach Bill Judy tabs 205-pound running back Brian Connors the best ever at P.V. He runs a 4.6 for 40 yards. Another major-college prospect is 205-pound Jackson Wang, who doubles as blocking back and middle linebacker.
Adam Brown (6-4, 245) anchors the offensive line and Eric Seaburn (6-0, 205) returns at tight end. Dean Decker, a converted wide receiver, will play quarterback. He has 6-4 size to go with the best speed on the team. "If he has the season I expect, everyone will want him," Judy said. His wide target will be 5-9 Sam Yoon. Evan Prodromore, a 220-pound tackle, is another player Judy is counting on for development.
South High Coach Joe Austin characterizes his squad as sound. The backfield will feature Dave Collins at tailback, Glen Ewing at fullback and Ken Semko at quarterback. Collins, the Bay League low hurdles champ, is the key. All-league linebacker Jeff Zumwalt (5-9, 185) and strong safety John Lopez lead the defense. The lines will be anchored by 225-pound Jeff Carpenter, tight end Todd Beckman (6-2, 190), junior tackles Brian Kelly (6-5, 215) and Tim Drevno (6-3, 225) and junior center Mark Merritt (6-2, 190).
West Torrance has a strong offensive line with three returning starters--center Scott Hayes, guard Eric Fehrmann and tackle Nick Subis, a college prospect at 6-5, 230. Converted defensive back Kevin Maher will be counted on at running back. The defense features tackle Mark van Buren (6-2, 235) and linebackers Kaiser Noa and Pat White.
Redondo, which didn't win a game after being transferred to the Bay League 1984, should be much improved with the return of eight starters on offense and six on defense, including the entire secondary. Second-year Coach Les Congelliere will focus the offense around running back Boots Cocoya (6-1, 210) and junior quarterback Scott Yessner. Receiver Mike Jones also returns, as does much of the line. However, team speed is suspect. The defense features free safety Dave Watson, strong safety Delbert Moore and corners Mark Belleveau and Jones. Cocoya and Dan Wood return at linebacker.
Mira Costa has one of the area's best coaches in Herb Hinsche but appears to be outmanned, with a small squad, outsized lines and little experience. Wide receiver Lance Honea returns on offense. Dan Donnelly is back at linebacker.
Rolling Hills' new coach, John Mack Brown, begins by trying to replace three-year star quarterback Dan Speltz. Fullback Pat Jarosz, also the team's top linebacker, will spearhead the offense. Track star Henry Martin will play tailback. The only other returning seniors are linebackers Jeff Kuhlman and Bryan Reid and cornerback Gary Redman.
Ocean League (Northwestern Conference)--Look for big things from North Torrance. We're talking big. "We're huge," said Coach Steve Schmitz. "The line's our biggest ever." The best is Tulette, a 6-2, 250-pounder who has been two-time all-South Bay. He switches to center so some really big guys can move in.
Tulette will be flanked by Todd Sprosky (6-3, 260) and Greg Torres (6-2, 235) on the right and John Streetmaker (5-10, 310) and Pat Morris (6-2, 225) on the left. All are returning starters, though Sprosky missed half the season with an injury. Tight end Ted Thomas brings down the average weight at 6-4, 190.