Halfway through the high school football schedule, here is who's hot, who's not, and who was and wasn't supposed to be.
HOT: Redondo, South Torrance, Hawthorne, Leuzinger, San Pedro and Westchester.
Carson is warm but has burned only one opponent. St. Bernard shows signs of catching fire. Bishop Montgomery is warm but in danger of cooling off.
Redondo is the surprise. The others had question marks entering the season but also had known talent and stable programs. Redondo is coming off a winless season and is 4-1, with a good chance to go 2-0 in the Bay League this week with a victory over winless Rolling Hills. The turnaround for Redondo has been the return of a high percentage of last year's starters led by running back Boots Cocoya, who has six touchdowns, and quarterback Scott Yessner. Cocoya scored three times last week against Palos Verdes in a league opening 25-20 win.
Leuzinger and Hawthorne are 4-0-1, the tie coming in their 14-14 game last week. Leuzinger has flown on the arm of Mike Reddington and the hands of receiver Sean Smith, who has caught six touchdown passes. Reddington, despite an assortment of injuries, has scored three times. If speed kills, as most coaches believe, then Hawthorne is deadly, boasting several members of its state champion track team including quarterback Alonzo Young, who has scored three touchdowns. Running back Andre Jackson has scored six.
South Torrance (4-1) has lost only to Santa Monica, 13-10, and has a solid defense that has surrendered only 41 points. Ken Semko directs the offense that features fullback Glenn Ewing.
San Pedro has built a 3-1 record, including a victory over strong San Fernando, on a solid defense and a balanced offense with Randy Galosic at quarterback, Lionel Robinson at fullback and Michael Ford at wide receiver. Robinson, also the team's best linebacker, battered Washington last week for 235 yards rushing.
Westchester is 3-1 and has been slowed only by Venice in a 10-8 loss last week. Before that the Comets had scored 129 points in three games. The high-scoring attack features tailback Derrick Franklin with five touchdowns and fullback Keith Bowen with six.
Carson, 3-1, exploded for 23 points in a four-minute span against Bishop Montgomery but otherwise has not been as productive as Coach Gene Vollnogle expected. Last week he moved quarterback Marc Walters to wide receiver and tried Kevin Tate at QB, explaining, "The problem's not at quarterback, it's at receiver." And Marc Walters might be the best receiver in the City. Still, the Colts are ranked No. 1 in the City going into Saturday's game with archrival Banning and have a tough defense led by linebacker Pete McLachlan and lineman Randy Strickland.
Bishop Montgomery got off to a 3-0 start before falling to Carson, 30-10. The Knights have had two weeks off but face another superior opponent Friday in Bishop Amat. Linebacker Ken Sale and lineman John Stangl have lived up to preseason star billing.
St. Bernard (3-2) has won two in a row, including its Camino Real League opener against Serra, and boasts one of the area's scoring leaders in tailback Michael Parks with seven touchdowns. The Vikings also have explosive Kevin Bayonne, who has returned a kickoff for a touchdown in four straight games.
NOT: Palos Verdes, Serra, Inglewood, Rolling Hills.
Palos Verdes (1-4) surprised people last year with seven victories but is already assured of a lesser season this year. The Sea Kings have lost four games by a touchdown or less. Last week's 25-20 loss to Redondo may have hinged on a fumble by fullback Brian Connors, who is having a fine year otherwise with six touchdowns.
Inglewood and Rolling Hills are 0-5. Rolling Hills is simply outmanned, despite the presence of one of the area's better players in running back Pat Jarosz. Inglewood has talent but hasn't had a stable program since Bob Hunter left the coaching staff two years ago.
Serra (1-4), like Palos Verdes, is losing the close ones but has also been blasted convincingly by Verbum Dei among its four straight losses.
Expect the unexpected from: Banning, Mira Costa, El Segundo and Miraleste.
Banning (2-2) may have righted itself by moving linebacker Earl Saunders to fullback. The Pilots scored 49 points against Kennedy last week, their first Pilot-like showing of the season. Still, Coach Chris Ferragamo has been puzzled by his team's spiritless play until last week, and nobody expects Banning to score 49 points against Carson this week. For the first time in a dozen years the Pilots are an unknown quantity.
Mira Costa's 1-3-1 record is deceptive. Coach Herb Hinsche has led an extremely green group with a lack of star players to respectable showings against more talented teams like South Torrance (a 21-15 loss) as well as a victory over Torrance and a tie with Culver City. The Mustangs are the kind of team nobody wants to play in a tight race.
El Segundo (2-3) looks like a world-beater one week, whipping Fillmore, 25-0, and toppling Moorpark, 28-27, but then gets whipped by Beverly Hills, 30-6. Running back Robert Markle is the South Bay's scoring leader with seven touchdowns and six points-after. The Eagles have scored 79 points but given up 111.
Miraleste (2-3) has two of the area's top players in James Castle and Kelby Woodward and one of the highest scorers in Mike Silane (seven touchdowns). The Marauders have scored 26 or more points four times including a high of 41--but have lost two of those games. They have scored 138 points and allowed 135. Look for some scoring this week when Miraleste plays Leuzinger.