Previews of teams from leagues that do not include more than one area school.
CENTENNIAL--The doormat of the Pioneer League has drawn attention because of the arrival of new Coach Tony Cruz. A native of New York, Cruz was an assistant at perennial power Diamond Bar High. Centennial has a 15-game losing streak and has not had a winning season since 1972. But Cruz said: "We will be capable of doing 6-4 or 7-3." Discipline is an important ingredient in his program. "Miss a practice, miss a game," he said.
LA HABRA--The Highlanders, under Coach Bob Rau, will try for their fifth straight Freeway League title, but Sunny Hills is favored. Rau has installed the run-and-shoot offense for quarterback Matt Shackelford. Top players include Sal Maldonado, who has been moved from wide receiver to running back, fullback/nose guard Linton Weatherspoon, center Gary Pili and linebacker Kevin Capps, who has been called the best defensive player in the league by one coach.
LEFFINGWELL CHRISTIAN--The Lions figure to win the Academy League again, which plays eight-man football. Coach John O'Shea said competition will be better than it was a year ago, when the school averaged 53 points a game. Five starters return for the Norwalk school.
LOS ALAMITOS--The Empire League may be more balanced than it has been in years. The league has dropped from eight to six teams this season, with El Dorado (Placentia), Katella, Loara and Esperanza (all of Anaheim), and Cypress joining the Griffins in the Orange County league. For the first time in three seasons, Los Alamitos will not have a starting senior at quarterback; Coach John Barnes plans to alternate junior Winston Wolf and sophomore Todd Gragnano. The team returns an experienced offensive line, two running backs, two receivers and three linebackers.
PIONEER BAPTIST--In its third year of eight-man football, the tiny Norwalk school figures to give St. Margaret's of San Juan Capistrano a run for the Collegiate League title. "We're a step better than last year, but we need a quarterback," said second-year Coach John Sherman. Fifteen players return on the 21-man squad.
SCHURR--Veteran Coach Ken Davis has 14 starting spots to fill, but figures to be in the race for a playoff spot in the Foothill League. Tim Woodfield, an all-league defensive back/wide receiver, "should have a big year," according to Davis. Freddie Burgueno, a running back/defensive back who gained nearly 1,000 yards last year and Ralph Bravo, a tight end/defensive end, also return. Burbank Burroughs and Hart of Newhall are expected to battle for the top spot.
ST. JOHN BOSCO--The Braves lost 19 seniors off last year's Big Five Conference finalist. The team strength is expected to be its offensive line, where several players return, including 6-6, 275-pound Gabriel Mills, rated one of the best players in Southern California. "We have question marks at the skilled positions," Coach Bill Friedrich said. Crespi, ranked No. 1 by Cal Hi Sports in its preseason poll, is expected to win the Del Rey League title but not without a fight from sixth-ranked Loyola.
ST. PAUL--New Coach Miguel Olmeda is the third in four years to try to restore that old Swordsmen magic. A return to glory days has dogged school boosters since a streak of 19 consecutive playoff appearances was broken in the early '80s. Olmeda, who played for St. Paul in 1977-78, said he has taught his players to "believe in themselves." Servite (No. 4) and Bishop Amat (No. 5) were ranked among Cal-Hi Sports' best in the state preseason poll and are expected to battle for the Angelus League title.