If all goes as expected in the Empire League, the juniors shall inherit playoff spots.
Esperanza High School is a downright, no-questions-asked, unanimous choice as the league favorite. Why? Certainly it's not last season's uncharacteristic 5-6 season. It's the junior class that moves up from a 10-0 sophomore team. The Aztecs get 315-pound Brian Fabray and 230-pound Chris Callinan from that team.
El Dorado is a favorite for a playoff spot and will owe much of its success to junior tailback Chris Olsen, who rushed for 1,100 yards as a sophomore.
Los Alamitos' sophomore team was 7-3 last season and its stars--Roger Roadstrom and Sean Silvia figure to make an immediate impact.
"It goes in cycles, sometimes you don't have much on the lower level, and other times you have a lot," said Bill Craven, coach of defending champion Pacifica.
Unfortunately for Craven, his team is relatively poor in the juniors department and is not picked to repeat.
"The juniors in this league are really going to have an effect on how things turn out this season," said Gary Meek, who replaces Pete Yoder at Esperanza. "I'm glad we have a bunch of good ones."
Here's a closer look at the Empire League:
CYPRESS: Key Personnel--Troy O'Leary (6-0, 185), WR/DB; Manuel Mugica (6-0, 150) WR; Lee Milton (6-0, 180), K; Jason Threedouble (6-1, 185), LB; Blaise Bryant, (6-0, 185), RB; Jason Friedman (6-1, 180), TE; Mike Parcells (5-9, 170), LB, and Jeff Ballinger (5-8, 150).
Top Newcomers--Greg Bedford (5-9, 160), DB; David Brunet (6-0, 150), QB; Steve Winterburn (5-8, 140), WR; Mark Jones (5-5, 130), DB, and Tom Haggerty (6-0, 180).
Outlook--Things looked as if they couldn't get much worse for the Centurions after the 1984 season that brought player dissension and a 1-6 league record. Oh, but they did. Cypress was 0-7 last season and Coach Kris Van Hook resigned. New coach John Selbe is talking about changing "the whole attitude thing." In attempt to do so, Selbe has hired six new coaches, all former players at Cypress. Wide receiver Troy O'Leary and running back Blaise Bryant look to be the Centurions' key offensive weapons.
EL DORADO: Key Personnel--Todd Tomazic (6-0, 195), LB; Rick Bowen (5-10, 175), WR; Doug Yates (6-0, 185), QB; Todd Wunsch (5-10, 185) LB: Mike Modica (5-10, 160) DB; Justin Sweet (5-11, 180), FB/LB; Todd Emerick (5-10, 175), OL; Bob Lancey (6-0, 200), OL/DL, and McCabe Macon (6-2, 215), OL/DL.
Top Newcomers--Robert Coons (6-3, 190), TE/LB; Eddie Keller (6-1, 175), WR/DB; Chris Olsen (5-10, 185), RB; Joe Hayes (6-0, 190), OL/DL; Steve Goff (6-4, 215), OL; Jeff Allec (6-1, 275), OL/DL; Chris Facione (6-2, 170), WR/DB; Craig Parr (6-4, 210), TE/DL; Pat Gabb (6-0, 150), WR/DB, and Kirk Gurske (6-0, 205), DL.
Outlook--Coach Carl Sweet is looking to open up his offense, saying his team will pass 20-30 times a game. Though this is unlikely to cause any comparisons with the San Diego Chargers, it is a significant increase for a team that averaged 16 passes a game last season. Doug Yates is the Golden Hawk No. 1 quarterback and his No. 1 receiver will probably be Rick Bowen, who led El Dorado in receptions with 10, count 'em, 10 catches. Junior Chris Olsen could step into the starting tailback position. He rushed for more than 1,100 yards on the sophomore team.
ESPERANZA: Key Personnel--James Ray (6-5, 250), OL; Frank Klisura (6-3, 220), DL; Mike Miscione (6-1, 180), RB; Don Herrick (5-11, 170), DB; Jim Short (6-2, 235), OL, and Brandt McCullough (6-2, 190), LB.
Top Newcomers--Mike Moneymaker (6-0, 177), QB; Brian Fabray (6-3, 315), OL; Chris Callinan (6-1, 230), OL, and Rick Lane (6-1, 175), DB.
Outlook--Everyone is picking Esperanza to win the league, including Esperanza. New Coach Gary Meek didn't bother with the coy practice of putting down his team's chances. After last season's relatively mediocre performance--5-6 overall, and third in league, the Aztecs return an excellent offensive line that averages 232 pounds. The line is led by James Rae, Jim Short and Chris Callinan, named the outstanding lineman on Esperanza's 10-0 sophomore team. Mike Moneymaker, who led the Aztec JV team to a 5-0 record, starts at quarterback. "He throws the ball with a lot of velocity," Meek said. "I think he throws the ball harder than Gary Beckman (last year's quarterback)." The consensus around the league is that former coach Pete Yoder's resignation a week before practice will have little effect on the Aztecs since Meek is a 10-year Esperanza assistant.
KATELLA: Key Personnel--Jeff Yourstone (5-9, 175), QB; Bob Calhoun (5-8, 185), OL/DL; Mike Farrell (5-10, 185), TE/LB; Adam Pastorello (6-2, 225), OL/DL; Dante Venturelli (6-1, 190), OL; Todd Muzi (6-1, 185), RB/DB, and Bryan "Bubba" Clester (5-8, 160), RB/LB.
Top Newcomers--Joey Pastorello (5-8, 150), WR/RB; Benny Vargas (5-8, 165), LB, and Kyle Grant (5-10,190), OL.