If pre-season scouting reports are accurate, this should be another outstanding year for prep football talent in the San Gabriel Valley.
Six players from the valley were listed among the seniors to watch on Street & Smith magazine's preseason All-America team. They are running backs Eric Bieniemy of Bishop Amat and Ricky Ervins of Muir, tight end Tom Lassalette of West Covina, offensive lineman Richard Garrick of Bishop Amat, defensive lineman Antonio Johnson of Ganesha and linebacker Carnell Kimbee of Nogales.
Bieniemy and Ervins could be the valley's top offensive prospects heading into the season. Both had outstanding junior seasons.
Bieniemy, 5-8 and 190 pounds, rushed for 1,514 yards and 25 touchdowns as a junior and Ervins, 5-9 and 185, ran for 1,218 yards and 14 touchdowns to lead Muir to the CIF Coastal Conference championship.
Both players are among the fastest in the valley. Bieniemy runs the 40-yard dash in a swift 4.5 seconds and Ervins, a track star for Muir, runs the distance in 4.4.
Garrick and Johnson are two of the biggest players in the valley. Garrick is 6-3 and 250 and Johnson, also one of the better basketball players in the area, is 6-4 and 260.
Ervins was the only valley player named on scout Max Emfinger's 1986 Future Super Stars Mid-Summer National Top 200 list.
Emfinger, who runs the Houston-based National High School Football Recruiting Service, also named five other valley players to his national pre-season second 200 list.
They are Bieniemy, Garrick, Lassalette, cornerback Leonard Hudson of Pomona and linebacker Phil Russell of Wilson (Hacienda Heights).
Ervins was listed as a utility player on both the Street & Smith and Max Emfinger teams, Bieniemy was listed as a utility player by Emfinger and running back by Street & Smith and Lassalette as a tight end by Street & Smith and defensive end by Emfinger.
Several other offensive standouts from the valley were not mentioned on either All-American team but figure to be among the top college recruits from the valley. Among them are running backs Eric Henley of Damien and Terrell Thompson of Ganesha and 6-6 wide receiver Steve Peters of Los Altos.
Quarterback Dan McGwire of Claremont High School and running back J. J. Flannigan of Pomona were among the top offensive players in the 35th Shrine Football All-Star Game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena last week.
But that may not be saying a lot when you consider that both teams combined for only 200 total yards in the North-South match-up.
The 6-8 McGwire, headed for the University of Iowa, completed 7 of 13 passes for 74 yards, and the Colorado-bound Flannigan rushed for 23 yards in six carries. Both players were prep All-Americans last year and were listed among the top 1986 college freshmen by Street & Smith.
McGwire's top passing target last season at Claremont, wide receiver Travis Watkins, was the leading receiver in the game with five catches for 24 yards. Watkins is also headed for Iowa.