Three San Gabriel Valley-area high schools are rated No. 1 in their divisions in the CIF Southern Section pre-season football rankings.
Muir of Pasadena is ranked No. 1 in the Coastal Conference, Damien of La Verne is top-ranked in the Eastern Conference and Arroyo is No. 1 in the Southeastern Conference.
The top rankings should come as no surprise. Muir and Damien reached the finals last season and Arroyo reached the semifinals.
Muir, which won the Coastal Conference and finished with a 13-1 record, has a strong corps of veterans, including one of the top running backs in the state in senior Ricky Ervins.
Damien, which lost to Baseline League rival Claremont in the Eastern Conference final and had a 9-5 record, has 34 lettermen including speedy running back Eric Henley.
Arroyo, one of the most experienced teams in the valley, has 14 starters from a team that finished 11-2.
Another power figures to be Bishop Amat, ranked No. 3 in the talent-rich Big 5 Conference after posting an 11-1 mark a year ago.
The two strongest conferences for valley teams figure to be the Eastern and Southeastern. In addition to Damien, Los Altos is ranked No. 2, South Hills No. 3, Rowland No. 5, Diamond Bar No. 8 and Claremont No. 9 in the Eastern Conference poll, and Arroyo is joined by No. 3 San Dimas, No. 4 Ganesha, No. 7 Baldwin Park and No. 9 Rosemead in the Southeastern.
Temple City is ranked No. 2 and Monrovia No. 8 in the Northwestern Conference.
San Gabriel Valley teams will open practice for the CIF season Monday.
Players will participate in three days of conditioning drills Monday through Wednesday and start contact Thursday.
The first games will be played Sept. 11, although most teams will open the following day.
One of the top games of the opening week could be Damien and Pasadena on Sept. 12 at Pasadena City College. Other big games: Muir plays Monrovia at Glendale High Sept. 11, and on Sept. 12 Arroyo visits Temple City and Bishop Amat plays host to Rubidoux.
Ken Kelly, a former assistant coach at Keene State College in New Hampshire, has been named women's soccer coach at Occidental College in Eagle Rock.
Kelly coached at Keene State from 1981 through 1983, when the team was ranked No. 10 in the nation in NCAA Division III.
Kelly was a top player at Westfield State in Massachusetts in 1976-78, leading his team to the Division III playoffs all three seasons.
He was injured in his senior season and finished the season as an assistant coach.
Kelly has high hopes for his first team at Occidental. "We have a strong core returning and an outstanding class coming in," he said.
Kelly, who holds a master's degree in student personnel services from USC, will also continue as a coordinator in USC's Office for Residential Life.