This is supposed to be a rebuilding year at Poly, which was co-champion of the Big Five Conference in 1985, but the Jackrabbits are still a solid favorite to win their seventh straight league title.
1. POLY--As usual, Leonard Russell (see front of section) isn't the only super star at Poly--the Jackrabbits also have Eugene Burkhalter and Mark Odom. Co-head Coach Jerry Jaso calls Burkhalter the best free safety in Southern California and says Odom is the fastest linebacker in the CIF, a solid hitter adept at covering the pass. The defense, Poly's trademark, will have quickness but not as much muscle as usual. Lolo James, a top cornerback, returns. The new quarterback will be sophomore Michael Carter, whose main job will be giving the ball to Russell about 30 times a game. Thomas Whiting, the other co-head coach, said Carter has a strong arm which will deliver passes to Alvin Warren, Larry Harriston and Cedric Jenkins.
2. MILLIKAN--The Rams were 4-1 in the league last year and are expected to challenge Poly again. "We have 11 kids back--great kids," said Coach Dave Radford. Millikan has three outstanding players in nose tackle Craig Baker, a member of The Times' all-South Coast team a year ago; wide receiver Ray Jones, and 230-pound fullback-defensive tackle Raul Spears. In Bob Crane and Jason Von Arx, Radford says he has two excellent quarterbacks.
3. LAKEWOOD--Coach Gene Melvin says the Lancers have some skilled players, most notably junior receiver Anthony Jones, who has good moves, good hands and a good attitude. Throwing to Jones, now that Rick Wildt has graduated, will be either Greg Clark, who quarterbacked the JV team last year, or Jordan Pilchman. The offensive and defensive lines lack experience, but the defensive secondary appears solid with seniors Richard Cage and Cuauhtemoc Rivera.
4. WILSON--The Bruins have a new quarterback, Sean Hochmuth, who appears to be a copy of his predecessor, Bobby San Jose--that means he has an efficient passing arm. Hochmuth will let fly to a flyer, Sonny Reynolds, the Moore League sprint champion. Coach Al Taylor is enthusiastic about Raul Garcia, a 235-pound transfer from Brooklyn, N.Y., who will play offensive and defensive tackle. The Bruins have speed, strength and talent, but will have to depend heavily on sophomores.
5. JORDAN--Dennis Brown, the giant All-American, has gone on to the University of Washington, but the Panthers still have good size in the line, with several players weighing 240 pounds or more. That's good news for tailback Marvin Montgomery, whom Coach Mike Ono says will definitely be a Division 1 college player. Another Panther to watch is Efrum Thomas, a wide receiver and strong safety. "We will go as well as our quarterback goes," said Ono, referring to Ted Marshall, a junior with a good arm and a good grade point average.
6. COMPTON--Curtiss Seymore, who was the track coach, takes over the Tarbabes (3-7 last year) and says, "We're looking at a new attitude. We're trying to get pride and dignity back and we'll start Friday night at Lynwood." There are no standouts on this team, Seymore said. Quarterback Rafael Avila will lead a mixed attack of passing and running.