Teams listed in predicted order of finish by Times staff writers. Canoga Park
COACH: Rudy Lugo, second year
LAST SEASON: 7-3; 1st in league, 4-1
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Mike Conover (5-11, 175) was brilliant as an all-purpose running back last year as a junior. He rushed for 934 yards (5.7 yards per carry), caught 21 passes for 139 yards and scored 98 points on 12 touchdowns, 14 extra points and 4 field goals. He also returned kickoffs and punts. "He did it all," Lugo said. Conover may have to do even more this season because quarterback Jeff Meyers graduated, and replacement Del Marine (5-11, 180) lacks experience. Marine, the Hunters' B quarterback last year, is "football smart, a leader on the field and very durable," according to Lugo. His favorite target figures to be all-league receiver Jeremy Mears, who caught 34 passes for 292 yards last season. Marine can also throw to his older brother Pete Marine. The offensive line is Lugo's biggest concern. The Hunters lost starters Myron Pedroche and Jose Herrera to academic ineligibility, but still have three-year starter Dave Audelo (6-4, 270) and Jack Ochoa (6-1,220) at tackles and Tak Odama (6-0, 200) at guard. Odama will also play inside linebacker and Audelo and Ochoa may see time on the defensive line. Jimmy Dustman (6-0, 210), a three-year starter at defensive end, inside linebacker Brian Hoffman (5-11, 185) and strong safety Chad Radomski lead the defense.
OUTLOOK: "I'm very concerned about the offensive line," Lugo says. "We've got some big kids, but I'm not sure how they'll develop." With Pedroche and Herrera gone, Lugo could be forced to play several players both ways. Therefore, conditioning is be a major concern.
COACH: Myron Gibford, eighth year
LAST SEASON: 5-4; 3rd in league, 3-2
PLAYERS TO WATCH: After watching quarterback Bryan Addison rush for 428 yards and five touchdowns in 1986, Gibford has moved him to running back. "The running back position will allow him to make better use of his talents," he said. "He's very deceptive. He makes people miss him a lot with his quickness and speed." Addison placed second in the 1987 City Section track championships in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles. Senior Ty Powell, the backup last season, will start at quarterback. Dan Joella, a 5-8, 160-pound senior, will join Addison and Powell in the backfield. The Chancellors' offensive line is a question mark. Only one starter, senior Michael Rosenthal (5-11, 210), returns. Gibford expects Jeffrey Jones, a 6-0, 220-pound junior transfer from Dorsey, to start at tackle. The defensive secondary should be a strong point, led by seniors Frank Lovelace at cornerback and senior DeWayne Lyons at free safety. Matt Helm, a 6-0, 185-pound junior, should stand out at linebacker.
OUTLOOK: "We've got a few holes to fill but we should be competitive," Gibford said. "We're very inexperienced on the offensive line. That will be crucial to our success. If we stay healthy and the offensive line comes along, we should be OK."
COACH: Tom Stevenson, third season
LAST SEASON: 4-6; 1st in league, 4-1
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Although Taft lost running backs Donald Dozier (653 yards), Cornell Collier (560) and Kevin Wolfe (511) to graduation, an influx of transfers has softened the blow. Senior Terrence Britt (5-11, 190) and junior Kelvin Byrd (5-10, 165), a transfer from El Camino Real, give Taft a solid backfield. "They're both pure running backs," Stevenson said. "Potentially they're as good as any backs we've had since I've been here." Quarterback Jon Thompson (6-2, 205) will direct Taft's run-oriented offense for the third consecutive season. The Toreadors passed only 76 times last season, completing 25 for 383 yards. "We might pass the ball eight times per game instead of seven," Stevenson quipped. The offensive line has been bolstered by transfers Doug Kougher (6-0, 180), a junior tight end from Crespi, Erin Reeder (6-4, 225) a junior from Iowa, and Aaron Lippman (6-3, 215), a senior from Washington. Senior guard Mike Kimmel (6-3, 195) also returns. Senior tackle Ron Johnson (6-0, 185), junior nose guard Rob Holland (6-0, 190), and junior linebacker Adam Zutler (6-1, 205) will anchor the defense.
OUTLOOK: Taft has the talent to win the league but may lack the experience, Stevenson said. "We could finish anywhere from first to fourth. We have a lot of underclassmen. The seniors have to take charge." The defensive backfield may be Stevenson's biggest worry. "We have a lot of new players," he said. "They need to learn the system as quickly as possible."
COACH: Chick Epstein, eighth year, and Tom Richards, first year
LAST SEASON: 6-4; 3rd in league, 3-2