For the first time in four years, La Mirada is an underdog. According to a poll of coaches, Artesia is the favorite.
1. ARTESIA--Second-year Coach Vince La Rosa has 10 returning starters, including running back Victor Matos, wide receiver Dan Bugay and quarterback Brian Smith, from a team which tied La Mirada for the league title. Players from last year's 10-0 JV team should fill the other spots. The Pioneers play one of the area's most difficult pre-season schedules, opening with Valley Christian Friday night.
1. (tie) LA MIRADA--Despite not getting a vote of confidence from coaches, the Matadors will still battle Artesia for the title. Ray Mooshagian, beginning his 25th year as a head coach and sixth at La Mirada, says of the Suburban League: "We are right up there; Artesia is, for sure, and Norwalk could be a surprise." Artesia and La Mirada open league play against each other Oct. 17. Times' all-Southeast selection Robert Stephens (center/defense tackle) returns, as does junior quarterback Eric Brooks.
3. NORWALK--Six starters return for new Coach Phil Vala, who will continue to teach at Artesia, where he served for several years as an assistant football coach. Vala calls Artesia and La Mirada the class of the league. Very young offensive and defensive lines may be problems for the Lancers.