Teams appear in order of finish predicted by Times staff writers. Santa Clara
COACH: Steve Dann, third year
LAST SEASON: 10-2; first in league, 5-0
PLAYERS TO WATCH: The Saints have a tradition of good football teams, and this season's squad should be no exception. Santa Clara, ranked ninth in the Desert-Mountain Conference in the Southern Section preseason poll, has 15 returnees as well as players from the school's junior varsity team that was 8-0-2 last season. Three all-league players return, including senior tailback Sam Petrucci (5-9, 165), who rushed for 930 yards a year ago. Senior defensive back Roy Rodriguez (5-7, 155) and junior running back Tony Pinedo (5-6, 135) also were all-league last season. Junior quarterback Mike Teron (6-1, 180) will direct the Saints' offense. Teron will be throwing the ball to junior split end Richard Mendez (5-10, 175) and senior tight end Desmond Webster (5-10, 213). Senior running back John Zaragoza (5-9, 165) also will see time as a runner and receiver. The offensive line is built around senior guards Randy Robledo (5-10, 215) and Jeff Hurd (5-10, 215).
OUTLOOK: "We're capable of winning a lot of games but it still comes down to turnovers," Dann said. "We need to force some turnovers and make some big plays. If we can do that, we'll be OK. But I think every team in the league has a chance to win the title this year."
COACH: Frank Greminger, 18th year
LAST SEASON: 8-4; second in league, 4-1
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Agoura, which lost quarterback Jon DeGennaro and linebacker/tight end Donnie Rea, returns 12 players from last season's team. The Chargers are ranked seventh in the Southern Section preseason poll. Senior wide receiver Mike Eckel (5-11, 160) and senior offensive tackle Brian King (6-3, 220) are about the only two players assured of starting in a particular position. The rest of the spots are up for grabs. Agoura runs the veer offense, and five linemen besides King are vying for positions. They are seniors David Steussie (6-4, 205), Sean Mulvey (6-1, 230), Rob Lichtman (5-8, 160), Chris Conahan (5-10, 190) and junior Gary Marino (6-1, 190). The offensive backfield is almost as jumbled. Six running backs could see action. Seniors Rob Salfen (5-6, 140), Eric Brink (5-8, 165) and Steve Klimes (6-0, 170) and juniors Doug Hastings (5-11, 170) and Eric Marshall (5-10, 165). Even senior Chris Wilhite (6-0, 170), who started at split end last year, may see action at tailback this season. Senior Rick Dobrowski (5-11, 175) and junior Scott Heflin (5-10, 150) may split time at quarterback. The defense, which is as up in the air as the offense, will be led by senior defensive back Doug Johns (5-11, 175).
OUTLOOK: "We lost a lot of kids from last year's team, but that doesn't bother me," Greminger said. "We have a lot of seniors and a lot of good players, but no outstanding ones. If we can get the right people in the right positions, we should contend for a spot in the playoffs."
COACH: Larry Edwards, seventh year
LAST SEASON: 6-4; third in league, 2-3
PLAYERS TO WATCH: The defense is expected to be the Coyotes' strong point this season as seven starters, including five all-league selections, return for their senior seasons. Defensive end John Vargas, linebackers Roger Valdovinos and Greg Spaulding and defensive backs Marty Garron and Spencer Siegel are all expected to help get the team into the playoffs for the first time since 1981. Last season, the Coyotes led the Valley with 22 interceptions, including seven by Garron. The offense will be run by senior quarterback Darren Del'Andrae (6-0, 180), who passed for 1,100 yards last season on a team that relied primarily on graduated running back Jim Erbin. The big question for Calabasas is the offensive line, which lost everyone except senior center Craig Adelman (6-0, 235). The receivers are an experienced group led by senior flanker Tony Sirkin and split end Ty Stoller. The running backs include Ari Berman and Scott Pensis, both juniors competing for the fullback position, and seniors Larry Griffin and John Russiello at tailback.
OUTLOOK: "We'll try to be as balanced as we can, but we're going to have to take a kind of wait-and-see attitude," Edwards said. "We'll be competitive because of our defense. Right now, we're still looking for some offensive linemen. If we don't find some, we're going to have a hard time moving the ball."
COACH: Mike Tsoutsouvas, second year.
LAST SEASON: 5-6; third in league, 2-3