Perhaps for the North Hollywood High football team, smaller will be better, less could be more.
First-year Coach Fred Grimes' varsity squad consists of only 32 healthy players, but he maintains he'll take "quality over quantity" anytime.
"We have a solid nucleus of about 15 players that looks to be very strong," said Grimes, who coached for the past three seasons as an assistant at Pierce College prior to taking over at North Hollywood. "The small turnout was a little surprising, but these are good kids who are willing to work. I'll take them over some of the problems we've had before."
Previous North Hollywood problems, admitted Grimes, included a minimum of victories and a multitude of team dissent.
"We're really trying to iron out the attitude problems the team has had in the past," Grimes said of the Husky team that struggled through a 2-7 season in 1985. "My staff and I made sure that the kids this year knew what the demands were going to be. We made sure they knew they had to be in good shape, physically and mentally, if they were going to try out for this team."
While many of his players lack varsity experience, the skill positions are among the strongest on the team, he said. Maybe green will be Grimes' lucky color.
Leading the offense will be junior quarterback James Crump, who'll team with fellow juniors Mark Stanford, Jason Grant and Mark Spiwak in the backfield. Steve Chuck, a senior, will also see duty at the tailback position.
"Stanford is the only one in the group that has any real game experience," said Grimes.
The offensive line also is loaded with underclassmen. Rob Nelson, a senior, is picked by Grimes to lead a thin group of offensive linemen.
Grimes knew the resurrection of the Huskies wouldn't come easily, or quickly. Right now he's gambling that the team's recent lack of success could prove to be a motivational catalyst.
"These guys are hungry. They've been receptive to the new system. If we play well early and develop a framework for winning, I think we'll be fine. Winning could even snowball into a solid season," he said.
"If we don't win at the outset, how do these players know we're any better than the last staff they had?"
It may be the season for preseason football evaluations, yet Sylmar Coach Tom Richards is still awaiting a report card of a different sort.
Richards is expecting good news tonight on the question of Adrian Valdez's eligibility for the 1986 season.
Valdez, academically ineligible for the past two years, has retaken a typing class in summer school and hopes to play quarterback for Sylmar, a Pac-8 team that finished 3-6 last year.
For Valdez, now a senior, it could be his last chance.
"He claims he's getting an A in the class," Richards said. "We're just crossing our fingers and hoping."
With Valdez and The Times All-Valley running back Sean Hampton in the same backfield, Richards sees an offensive threat that could rival any in the Valley.
Valdez, who has been practicing with the team while awaiting the academic verdict, will be backed up by Rick Negrete. A junior, Negrete is already filling in for second-stringer Marc Cisneros, a left-handed senior who broke his right arm in early workouts. Cisneros, who was a defensive back last year, is not scheduled to have his cast removed until the Spartans' season opener Sept. 19.
"Even though he hasn't participated in live varsity play, Valdez has proven to me that he can take the shots in practice," Richards said. "But right now I'm in a kind of wait-and-see situation. Kids are like a roller coaster: What they say is one thing and what is actuality is another."
Will the Wolves survive?: Van Nuys made the City 3-A playoffs in 1983 after finishing 3-2 in the Valley Southern League. The Wolves moved to the Sunset League in 1984, but their offense apparently stayed south.
Van Nuys has been shut out seven times in 10 Sunset League games--all losses--over the past two seasons. Last season, the Wolves scored 41 points while struggling to an overall record of 1-8. That was an improvement over 1984, when they scored only 15 points while going 0-9.
As if that weren't bad enough, here's the really bad news: The Wolves might not be any better this season. Only one starter--wide receiver Boni Bruno--returns, and he is all of 5-7 and 155 pounds.
"Our goal is to build self confidence and give players a better understanding of the game," Van Nuys co-Coach Ken Lee said. "What we need to do is put points on the scoreboard. We've had trouble with the offense."
Tom King began his first season as the Simi Valley boys cross-country and track coach on Monday.
King, 29, has been hired to replace two men--track coach Doni Green and cross-country coach Jim McCullough, who retired after last year's Southern Section championship season. Green, who posted a 62-1 record in eight years at Simi Valley, has joined his father, Don, as an assistant coach at Cal Lutheran.
King was the distance coach at Newbury Park for the past seven years. A 1978 graduate of Cal Lutheran, King is also teaching economics and geography at Simi Valley.
He said the transition from a part-time position at Newbury Park to a full-time one at Simi Valley has been easy.
"The people here have been great. Everyone's been very helpful and encouraging," he said.
Karina Hardman, the girls basketball coach at Royal for the past two seasons, has resigned in order to pursue her education. She will attend Moorpark College. Hardman played at Royal, leading the Highlanders to the Marmonte League championship in 1982.
Royal Athletic Director Sandy Williams said that the vacated position hasn't been filled yet.
"At the moment we don't have any leading candidates. We're looking for someone who is going to stick with the program for several years," she said. "Lately, we seem to have had a pretty fast turnover rate."