It's another year of change and maybe better football as the Glendale area's 11 City and CIF teams open the high school football season. The seven CIF schools kick off play this weekend and the four City schools open next week.
Half the fun of Glendale-area football is finding out who will be coaching. Once again the area has been a hotbed of activity, with five of the 11 schools naming new coaches. Since 1984 there have been 13 coaching changes.
The biggest losses are at Hoover, where Dennis Hughes takes over for Fred Cuccia, who left to coach at South Pasadena, and La Canada, where Steve Gillette replaces Steve Silberman, the 1985 Glendale-area coach of the year, now at Sonora. Other new coaches are Armando Gonzales at Franklin, Glenn Beatty at Flintridge Prep and Tim Butler and Don Shoemaker, co-coaches at Glendale.
Last year Glendale-area teams finished with a 42-59-2 record. Three failed to win a league game and three others won only one.
La Canada was the only team to make the playoffs and was knocked out in the opening round of the CIF battle.
Hoover, which finished with the best area record at 8-2, was denied a CIF playoff berth when the Tornadoes were forced to forfeit all victories for using an ineligible player.
But relief may be on the way. Five area schools have at least 12 starters returning, including St. Francis with 29 lettermen.
Here's a look at the Glendale-area CIF and City teams.
Crescenta Valley (Pacific League, Coastal Conference)--Second-year coach Jim Beckenhauer tries to keep the Falcons competitive in the tough Pacific League. Crescenta Valley, 3-6-1 in 1985, has 14 lettermen and 10 starters from last year's squad, which finished 1-4 in league play.
"We feel that we're a much better football team," Beckenhauer said. "We have more size and quickness than in the past. That's what it takes to win in our league. If we can stay healthy, we're bound to improve."
Much like last year, most of the best athletes will play offense and defense. All-Glendale senior kicker Mike Muhlethaler (6-2, 180), who also plays tight end/safety, heads the returning starters, including second-team All-Pacific League tailback/cornerback Mauro LaPorte (6-0, 175), who caught 23 passes for 300 yards as a junior.
Other senior returners are linebacker Jerry Harris (6-2, 220), who switches from center to fullback on offense; offensive guard/linebacker Eric Crowder (6-2, 205) and defensive tackles Eric Borup (5-9, 225) and Bill Contaldi (6-1, 217). Junior Steve Lightbourne (6-2, 180) will start at quarterback.
Crescenta Valley opens at La Canada on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Eagle Rock (Northern League, City 2-A)--Coach Dennis Shaw doesn't need to be reminded what kind of job he has ahead of him after last year's 1-8 Eagle season. And things don't look much better this fall. Eagle Rock has 10 lettermen and five starters from last year's squad, which was 0-5 in league.
"Things have to get better; they sure can't get much worse," said Shaw, in his third year at the Eagle helm. "We may be smaller than most of the teams, but sometimes the smaller team that works hard can go a long way."
If Eagle Rock has a strong point, it's in the backfield where running back Mike Nelson (6-2, 200) and fullback/linebacker Jay Duncan (5-7, 160) return. Senior quarterback Maurice Ramirez (5-11, 170), who threw for about 500 yards in three starts last season, is being pressed by junior Chuck Engle (5-9, 170), a transfer from Cathedral.
All-Glendale senior offensive tackle/defensive lineman Jose Nunez (5-10, 220) heads the list of returning senior starters, including split end Eddie Ruiz (5-7, 150), who had 17 receptions in 1985, and All-Northern League defensive back Nelson Jatico (5-6, 145), who returned three punts for touchdowns as a junior. Other key players are senior punter/tight end Norman Tobias (6-1, 170), center Eric Cervantes (5-10, 200), senior wide receiver/running back Johnny Rodriguez (5-8, 160) and junior offensive guard Russ Shiraishi (5-9, 220).
Eagle Rock plays at Glendale on Sept. 18.
Flintridge Prep (Prep League, Eight-Man Conference)--If there is one thing Beatty, who takes over for Brady Lock, who left to take an assistant coaching position at St. Margaret's in San Juan Capistrano, much watch, it will be his own mouth. Last year Beatty, a defensive coordinator, was telling everyone that Flintridge Prep would win at least six games, only to have the Rebels finish 3-5, and 1-3 in league.
Beatty says he has learned his lesson.
"I popped off a year ago and got spanked. So this year I'm a little more cautious," said Beatty, who has 13 lettermen and 10 starters returning. "Now our goal is just to win one more game than last year."