Canyon High School of Canyon Country, winner of 38 consecutive games and three straight Northwestern Conference championships, will play host to Newhall Hart at 7:30 p.m. Friday at College of the Canyons.
This traditional battle of Santa Clarita Valley powers is expected to draw a crowd of about 10,000.
Hart, 9-4-1 last season, will be out to avenge last season's 6-3 loss to Canyon. In that one, Hart quarterback Jim Bonds was stopped short of the end zone on the final play of the game.
Canyon, which finished last season with a 14-0 mark, has two small running backs--Lance Cross, a 5-foot 6-inch 165-pounder who has rushed for 2,440 yards in the last two years, and Paul Chadwell, 5-6 and 150. Hart's Chris Hite, 5-9 and 160, carried for 574 yards and caught 61 passes from his tailback position.
Ken Sollom of Canyon, and Bonds, both seniors, are two of the best quarterbacks in the Southern Section.
Canyon lost nine starters on defense and has four offensive linemen who have never played varsity football.
Colton (4-6) vs. Anaheim Servite (9-3) at Cerritos Gahr, Saturday night
George Hemingway is Colton's offensive weapon. Hemingway, a 6-3, 225-pound senior running back, gained 1,275 yards and scored 17 touchdowns last year. He averaged seven yards a carry. The Yellowjacket offensive line, anchored by 300-pound tackle Eugene Magana, averages 254 pounds. Servite starts a famous name at quarterback, but he has little experience. Jason Messersmith, whose father, Andy, was a standout pitcher for the Dodgers and Angels, was the No. 4 quarterback on the sophomore team last year, but has grown to 6-3 and 190 pounds. Messersmith earned the starting spot in the last two weeks when Brett Caya quit the team to concentrate on basketball. Servite's defense is led by linebackers Brett Valmassei and Mike Petko.
Hawthorne (11-1-1) at Palos Verdes (3-7), Friday afternoon
Both teams feature underclassmen. Hawthorne will start sophomore Curtis Conway at quarterback. Tailback Richard Harrison is the top returner in the backfield. Palos Verdes has 37 juniors on the team. Senior running back Austin Peters (5-10, 175) gained over 600 yards last year. He also is a top defensive back.
Santa Ana Foothill (9-3) at Mission Viejo Capistrano Valley (9-2-1), Friday night
This promises to be a match-up of Capistrano Valley's good offense against Foothill's great defense. Quarterback Todd Marinovich, a 6-4, 205-pound junior, will make his debut for Capistrano Valley after transferring from Santa Ana Mater Dei. Marinovich should fit in perfectly with the Cougars' passing offense. He threw for more than 4,000 yards and 34 touchdowns in two seasons at Mater Dei. Foothill's defense is sound enough that Brian Healy, a two-year starter at linebacker, could be moved to fullback. Randy Laycock and Omar Martinez anchor the Knights' defense.
La Verne Damien (9-5) vs. Pasadena (8-5) at Pasadena City College, Friday night
Damien lost to Claremont in the Eastern Conference final last season and has eight starters back, among them running back Eric Henley, who rushed for 1,333 yards and 18 touchdowns last season. Damien's offensive line is expected to give Henley plenty of running room this season. The line averages close to 240 pounds. Pasadena, which lost to Pasadena Muir in the Coastal Conference semifinals, relies on the wishbone. Running back W.C. Morrison, who gained 540 yards, is Pasadena's leading returner in the backfield.
El Monte Arroyo (11-2) at Temple City (6-4), Friday night
Each team has 14 starters returning. Temple City has option quarterback Tim Vance and fullback Mike Mooney back. Linebacker Bob Rees, 6-3 and 225, anchors the defense for Temple City, ranked second in the Northwestern Conference preseason poll. Arroyo, which lost in the Southeastern Conference semifinals last year, has leading rusher Jason MacLelland back. Only a junior this season, MacLelland accounted for 784 yards and 9 touchdowns.
South Torrance (7-3-1) at Thousand Oaks (7-4), Friday night
These teams feature run-oriented offenses and experienced defenses. Quarterbacks Rob McKinnon of Thousand Oaks and Tom Mace of South Torrance are seniors, but neither started last season. Thousand Oaks running back Marc Monestime rushed for 1,260 yards as a sophomore last year. Steve Kujawa gained 821 yards in 7 starts for South Torrance. Gus Nelinger, 6-2 and 195, and Joe Sturges, 6-1 and 205, senior linebackers, head a Thousand Oaks defense that includes seven returning starters. In the teams' only previous meeting, South Torrance won in the 1981 playoffs, 55-0.