Chroniclers of the Bigfoot legend might be wise to stop at Montclair Prep High to check out Michael Jones, a sophomore running back who wears size 14 cleats and wears out opponents who try to catch him.
Jones, 6-1, 192 pounds, rushed for 14 touchdowns and more than 1,400 yards in just six games on the JV level last season, according to Montclair Prep Coach Pat Blackburn.
At the Offense-Defense Instructional Football Camp in Riverside last month, Jones was selected as the top tailback among 800 participants.
"The coaches at the camp couldn't believe he was 15," said Blackburn, who will begin his second season with the Mounties.
To welcome Jones to the varsity level, Blackburn said he will scrap the I-formation he used last season in favor of a split backfield. The change gives the Mounties more options and opportunities for Jones, junior quarterback Enis Howard and senior running back Michael Broussard.
Nine starters return for Montclair Prep, which finished 5-2 in the Alpha League last season.
All-league offensive tackle/linebacker Jason Bailey and all-league center/linebacker Josh Berger are considered the leaders of the team, but the fortunes of the Mounties may well rest on the medium-sized shoulders--and very large feet--of Michael Jones.
Home on the range: After 14 years of commuting from Marina del Rey to the Canyon High campus, Harry Welch finally can call Canyon Country home.
Welch traded in a condominium on the sand and a daily two-hour drive for a house about 10 minutes from the high school. He moved in three weeks ago.
"I've spent all my time away from football working on the house," Welch said. "I'm doing all the chores everyone bemoans. And I'm loving it."
Welch is also enjoying summer preparations for next football season. The biggest--and most critical--position battle is at quarterback where juniors Rod Baltau and Rick Gambos are competing to replace Michigan-bound Ken Sollom, who passed for 2,884 and 29 touchdowns last season.
"That's a heated battle," Welch said. "Some coaches like the big-play capability. But the biggest I thing I look for is the consistency of good performance."
The Cowboys might start the season without one of their most consistent defensive performers last season. Kevin Doss, a 6-0, 180-pound all-league linebacker, suffered a separated shoulder in the Westlake passing tournament and will be sidelined at least two months.
Add Canyon: Rich Montanio, who coached football and baseball at Chaminade High, was named baseball coach at Canyon High last week.
Montanio, 38, replaces Wally Hammond, who retired from coaching but remains at the school as a teacher.
Montanio, who lives in Simi Valley, won three Santa Fe League titles in football and five in baseball during his 13 years at Chaminade. He will teach physical education at Canyon.
Montanio said he would like to help the football program, but his priority will be baseball.
"It's going to be a great challenge," Montanio said. "I get the feeling that there is tremendous community support academically and athletically in Canyon Country."
Secondary to none: Only six players return at Calabasas next season, but the Coyotes may repeat as Frontier League champions if the rest of the team comes around as quickly as the secondary has this summer.
Marty Garron, who led the Valley area with 10 interceptions last season, has graduated, but Coach Larry Edwards feels he has four solid starters in cornerbacks Bo Enrico and Steve Lee Corber and safeties David Kalman and Casey Whalen.
"The secondary is one of the hardest positions to play in high school," said Edwards, who will begin his eighth season with the Coyotes. "They're all learning quickly and they've been holding their own in scrimmages."
Regent repeat?: Reseda Coach Joel Schaeffer is looking forward to another successful season based on the play of the team during the summer and that four All-City players return from last season's City 2-A championship.
Wide receiver/linebacker David Wilson, who was the 2-A Player of the Year, Ronald Wilkinson, who rushed for 1,051 and 13 touchdowns, defensive back Sam Edwards (nine interceptions) and kicker George Konstantinopoulos will form the nucleus of the team.
Coley Kyman, a 6-5, 190-pound junior, is performing well this summer and probably will start at quarterback. Kyman, like many former Regents, played varsity as a sophomore.
"If I have any reason for success, I think it's that I play a lot of sophomores," Schaeffer said. "Wilson and Wilkinson played a lot as sophomores and it really helped them in their junior year. Sometimes you have them out there and you wish they weren't . . . but it pays off in the long run."
Keeping the faith: Faith Baptist Coach Harry Morgan remembers the first time he was asked to design a defense for use in 8-man football games.
"I was an 11-man coach and when they asked me to do 8-man, I said, 'Ah, this is a snap,' " Morgan said. "I sat down with a pencil and paper and at about four in the morning I decided you could not play defense in 8-man football."
That was 10 years ago.
Morgan eventually came to grips with the 8-man game. Now, it's Faith Baptist opponents that are trying to figure how to stop a Contenders running game that features 6-1, 215-pound fullback Troy Prehmus.
"Barring injury, I think we have a shot at everything this season," said Morgan, whose team finished 6-3, second in the Delphic League last season.
Faith Baptist will end its summer workouts by holding a passing tournament Aug. 22. Morgan is interested in hearing from Valley-area coaches who would like to enter their teams.