Wilmington Banning Coach Chris Ferragamo, who knows a thing or two about hyperbole, may not be stretching it when he says he is eager for the 1986 City football season to begin Friday. If it were much longer a wait, the Pilots, who open as The Times' No. 1 team, might not have as many players to work with.
Banning has already had lost several players to injury. No starters, but, thanks to an aggressive defense, there has been one broken leg, two broken arms and countless other bruises.
"Those guys (the defense) are so big and rugged and strong from the weight room," Ferragamo said of the defending 4-A champions. "I just can't wait for the season to begin. Most of the players can't wait for it to begin so they can get their hands on some new meat, some new people."
And on that note . . .
1 WILMINGTON BANNING 1985 Record: 9-3
Coach: Chris Ferragamo
Strengths: Defense, with size and speed from top to bottom. Starting DTs Terrance Powe (6-4 1/2, 265) and Tyrone Rogers (6-4 1/2, 240) are nicknamed "The Unbudgeables," while backup Arley Anthony (6-2 1/2, 270) is the Barbecue. Beyond the monikers, there are DEs Eric Dozier and Louis Wooldridge. FS Marvin Pollard is one of the top prospects in California, and CB Ken Franklin, a transfer from Los Angeles, has been very impressive himself. OLB Calvin Spears is especially good against the pass. Offensive line with C Dan Gunderson, G Mike Padilla, G Ed Lalau, TE Titus Tuiasosopo, the cousin of Mano Tuiasosopo. Coaching.
Weaknesses: Untested running game with junior FB Ken Williams and senior TB Archie Jean, a converted wide receiver.
Outlook: "I feel this team, if it progresses the way it left off last year, could, in the end, be one of the finest teams in the state of California," Ferragamo says. No disagreement here. The team is ranked No. 7 in the nation by USA Today.
2 CARSON 1985 Record: 10-2
Coach: Gene Vollnogle
Strengths: The Alvin n' Calvin gang at RB, Alvin Goree and Calvin Holmes, both 5-10 and fast, QB George Malauulu, though only a junior, is a team leader and has a strong arm. Offensive line, led by C-G-T Tommy Luapo. MLB Rich Tiedemann and OLB Arnold Ale. Aggressive CBs Sheldon Jones, Michael Woodson and Abdul Harris. K Luis Solorio. Coaching.
Weaknesses: Inexperience on the defensive line because of grade problems. Allan Wilson and Kendall Hooks, both former running backs, have been moved to DE. Inexperience at safety, although Harris may move over.
Outlook: Holmes and Goree are the stars, but it will be interesting to watch the development of Malauulu and the passing game. On defense, it'll be up to the four linebackers (Robert Ward, Edwin Ulufanua, Tiedemann and Ale) to compensate for the holes in front of and behind them.
3 GRANADA HILLS KENNEDY 1985 Record: 4-5
Coach: Bob Francola
Strengths: Seven starters returning from a defense that, with the exception of a 49-6 loss to Banning, never allowed more than 21 points in a game. NG Akili Calhoun, OLBs George Davison and Ron Hardy, FS Stacy Ramsey and CBs Dion Lambert and Jeff Newman lead the way. On offense, C Ron Simmons (6-4, 245) is one of the top lineman in the state and one of the best players in the City at any position. TB Edwin Jones, QB Newman and WR Lambert.
Weaknesses: The offensive line has three newcomers. A schedule that has L.A. Crenshaw, Mission Hills Alemany, Banning and Simi Valley.
Outlook: There still is a gap between the second- and third-best teams (as always), but first-year Coach Bob Francola and the Golden Cougars should be kings of the Valley, which is nice at least until the playoffs begin. The offense will be balanced but geared more toward the pass than recent Kennedy teams, because of Newman.
4 L.A. DORSEY 1985 Record: 8-3
Coaches: Paul Knox & Eugene McAdoo
Strengths: Both lines, with Doug Bledsoe and Earle Austin seeing double duty. Michael Harris and Melvin Williams both return at DB as does RB George Sykes. Senior MLB William Buckner, who at 5-4 and 200 pounds may have the most appropriate nickname around: Stump. "When we evaluated our last season, he was probably one of our top defensive players technically," Knox says. "He didn't have the physical ability of Robert Nobles (an All-City selection), but technically speaking, he was a fine player. And it looks like he has improved."
Weaknesses: Only five starters are back, so inexperience, especially in replacing graduates Sean Foster at WR and Tommy Jackson. QB Dana Frelow, a third-stringer in '85, is untested.
Outlook: One of the surprise teams of '85, coming back from a 2-6 season to lose to only Carson (twice) and Banning, the Dons lost a lot do graduation (Jackson, Foster and Nobles were three of the best players in the City) and still won't sneak up on anyone this year. The defense is the key, and because of a lack of depth on the line has been switched from a 3-4 to a 4-3.
5 GARDENA 1985 Record: 4-6
Coach: Dale Hirayama