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Sizing up Area Prep Teams: Poly----as Usual----Is at the Top : A preview of the Southeast/Long Beach area high school football teams: : Others

September 11, 1986|PAUL McLEOD

ST. JOHN BOSCO--Quarterback Jim Sterner, who threw for more than 800 yards last season, joins running back Oscar Meza, who gained 1,000 yards and scored 14 touchdowns, in the Braves backfield. Coach Bill Friedrich, who enters his fifth season as head coach, has 13 starters returning from a team that finished third in the Del Rey League with an overall record of 5-6. "We'll definitely contend for the league title," he says. Tackle Gabriel Mills, a 6-6, 280-pound junior, is a player to watch. Crespi, St. Francis and Loyola are expected to battle the Braves for a playoff spot.

PIONEER BAPTIST--This is the second year that the tiny Norwalk private school has fielded an eight-man team and Rick Sherman is the school's second coach in that span. Sherman, who formerly coached in Virginia, takes a school that competed on the junior varsity level a year ago onto the varsity level with no returning starters. But anything is possible since the Collegiate League is not considered strong in football.

LEFFINGWELL CHRISTIAN--First-year Coach John O'Shea takes over a team that was 1-8 last year. Running back Benji Smith runs a 4.5 40. A transfer from Harbor Christian, Smith scored 28 TDs last year and ran for 2,200 yards in eight-man competition. "He could start for any team," says O'Shea. The Lions could be a surprise in the Academy League.

CENTENNIAL--Second-year Coach James Emery returns five starters from last year's 1-8 club, including Eric Carter, Prince Hall and Tim Hall, but will be hard-pressed to escape the cellar again. Morningside and Leuzinger are expected to battle for the league title.

SCHURR--Coach Ken Davis tries for career victory No. 100 in the season opener Friday night against visiting Santa Fe. The Spartans graduated 18 starters from last year's 10-2 team. What's worse, Foothill League rival Hart High is the Northwestern Conference'a No. 1-ranked team. Still, Schurr has one of its biggest teams and should fight for the third playoff spot. But Davis is fretting. "I have a couple of good managers, who look like they're working real hard," he says when asked about his team's chances. But Davis has a reputation for priming teams to play above their heads.

ST. PAUL--Second-year Coach Rick Ready never minced words last season as he took the once-feared Swordsmen (7-4) to their first playoff appearance in three years. This year Ready's tongue is equally primed: "We're fair," he says, "but no one will run away with the Angelus League title." Jeff Willis has the edge over Greg Willig as the starting quarterback and will try to replace all-league John Scott, who graduated. Servite and Bishop Amat are expected to battle for first place, but St. Paul has the coaching to earn a playoff spot.

LOS ALAMITOS--The Griffens lost two talented players in quarterback J.T. Snow and wide receiver Robbie Katzaroff to graduation. Esperanza is the coaches' favorite to win the Empire League, but Los Alamitos, a co-champion last year at 10-2, could make post-season play by running a more balanced offense.

LA HABRA--One thing was certain the past four seasons in the Freeway League: La Habra was the team to beat. But in 1986, the Highlanders are expected to be threatened by Sunny Hills. Quarterback Matt Shackelford passed for more than 1,800 yards last season and is expected to do the same in '86.

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