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This Race Has Two Schools of Thought

August 31, 1987|STEVE LOWERY | Times Staff Writer

Angelus League football coaches named 58 players to either first- or second-team all-league teams after last season. That's 58 players to fill 48 positions, which doesn't include the honorable mention list that included about 30 additional players.

Rumor is that anyone who properly laces up his cleats is almost a lock for honorable mention.

Now, you can take this one of two ways.

First, you may believe the Angelus League is the premier football league in the Southern Section and that any player who does somewhat well is deserving of recognition.

Or, you may believe that Angelus League coaches are deluding themselves with memories of a glorious league past.

If you believe the first, you point to the fact that the league has had three Big Five champions in the 1980s. And that Bishop Amat and Servite were each ranked No. 1 in the Southern Section at some time last season.

"I've been in a lot of all-league meetings in a lot of different leagues and the Angelus is the most diplomatic," said Chuck Gallo, Mater Dei coach. "This is still the best league around. Those kids are deserving of everything."

If you believe otherwise, you point to the fact that the last time an Angelus League team appeared in the Big Five final was 1983. And that Bishop Amat and Servite were eliminated by the second round of the playoffs last season.

You also point out that Servite placed six defensive players on the first and second teams from a defense that allowed Bishop Amat to score 49 points, St. Paul to score 35 and Bishop Montgomery (1-4 in league) 28. You also point out that six Mater Dei offensive players made it from an offense that averaged a whopping 12 points a game in league play.

"I think the fact is there are a lot of big egos in this league," said a league coach who asked not to be identified. "Everyone thinks their kids are just the greatest for playing in this league. Well, I don't know if this is the best league anymore."

Angelus League head coaches were polled and here's what they said:

Four said Servite would probably win the league title.

Two said Bishop Amat would probably win.

When the question was who would finish second, every team was mentioned at least once except St. Bernard. Bishop Amat, Servite, Mater Dei and St. Paul were mentioned most.


5-0, 11-1 (First in league)

Bishop Amat has won the league championship the past two seasons, going a combined 10-0 in league. Most of the credit goes to running back Eric Bieniemy, twice the league's player of the year, who gained 2,001 yards and scored 30 touchdowns last season.

Bieniemy has graduated. In his place comes Mazio Royster, who rushed for 707 yards on 104 carries (6.8 yards a carry) last season.

Returning quarterback J.R. Phillips threw only 125 passes in 12 games. Stephon Pace, who had eight interceptions as a defensive back, will be part of an exceptional defense that allowed a total of 89 points last season and recorded two shutouts in league play. A good portion of that defense returns.

Other key personnel: defensive back Ruben Duran, and linemen Aron Gideon and Kevin Szalonek.

Top newcomers: running back Adam Rogers, linebacker Kurt Szalonek.


1-4, 3-7 (Fifth in league)

The Knights probably have the best athlete in the league, quarterback Niu Sale. He can run, he can pass, he can play defense. He can do just about anything except make Bishop Montgomery a winner in the Angelus League. Sale was an all-league defensive back as a sophomore in 1985 and the Knights went 1-4 in league. Sale moved to quarterback his junior year (1986) passed for more than 1,100 yards and rushed for 1,056 and the Knights went 1-4 in league.

A big reason for the Knights' problem is defense, or lack of one. Bishop Montgomery allowed an average of 23.5 points per game last season. The return of highly touted defensive lineman Andrew Barra may help.

Other key personnel: linebacker Laurn Jordan, defensive lineman Joe Magri.

Top newcomer: linebacker Pete Ortiz.


2-3, 5-5 (Fourth in league)

The Monarchs (so what else is new?) lost two more key players. Matt Spence, the team's top rusher and second leading receiver, transferred to Capistrano Valley.

Pat Leborio, Spence's backup, transferred to El Modena. Mater Dei lost all-everything quarterback Todd Marinovich before last season when he transferred to Capistrano Valley.

The Monarchs will have their third starting quarterback in three years. His name is Mark Ramstack and he's an outstanding athlete, a very good basketball player and looks great in shoulder pads.

However, Ramstack had not played a down at quarterback until last season and then only sparingly. So the question is, can he complete a pass?

To get an idea how much Mater Dei passes, last season's starting quarterback Mike Curtius did not start two games and still led the county in attempts with 239.

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