The Valley College football team has a quarterback who led the nation in passing efficiency, a running back who may be one of the best at the junior college level and 15 talented wide receivers competing for jobs.
"Yes, we're pretty good at the skill positions," Monarch Coach Chuck Ferrero said. "But, we'll have to wait and see about our linemen. They could play great or they could lay an egg."
Excuse me, coach. Did you say the sky is falling?
OK, Eric Litmanovich, who was all-conference last season, is the only returning offensive lineman. And yes, the team lost five defensive linemen to graduation.
But Valley, ranked 17th in the state by the JC Athletic Bureau, is loaded with talented athletes--and they should be in excellent physical shape. More than 100 players survived a grueling fall conditioning program that included a week of three- a-day workouts.
Quarterback Barry Hanks, a 6-0, 197-pound sophomore quarterback likely will pick up where he left off last season when he led the team to six straight wins while passing for 1,567 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Running back Dondre Bausley (5-11, 186), who rushed for 682 yards and nine touchdowns last season, is capable of substantially increasing those numbers.
The defense is respectable, too--especially at linebacker were the Monarchs have Lance Ane, Joe Zacharia, Earl Estell and Eddie Davis.
Valley, which was penalized for using an ineligible player last season, finished 2-7 overall and 2-5 in the Southern California Conference after forfeiting three games.
The coaches and players, however, feel they're on a six-game win streak. With a little luck, they could extend that.
At Moorpark, Coach Jim Bittner, whose team opens the season ranked 20th in the state, is still in search of a quarterback. If he can settle on one, the Raiders may improve upon last season's 6-3 overall record. When it comes to the Western State Conference, however, Moorpark still has to get by powerful Glendale.
Three sophomores are competing at quarterback, including Dan Nagelmann, Andy Ramos and Dave Sommers.
"Last year we played three quarterbacks and we said we'd never do it again," Bittner said. "But they're just so close." Nagelmann (5-11, 185) would seem to have the inside track because of his experience, mobility and accuracy in the short passing game.
Wide receiver Frank Madrid, a second team all-conference player at Ventura last season, has transferred to Moorpark. Kenny Durr, a sophomore, will split time at receiver and running back.
Moorpark has led the conference in rushing the past two seasons, but with the graduation of Jim Bittner, the coach's son, the workload will be carried by a quartet that includes sophomores Dana Griffin, Mike Daniels, who transferred from New Mexico State, and freshmen Larry Roberts from Fillmore and Ernie Tapia from Channel Islands.
"The thing we're concerned about is the lack of depth at the offensive and defensive lines," Bittner said. "Last year we had a little more luxury."
The offensive line is anchored by freshmen Tim Ison (6-2, 235) from Oxnard and Greg Mattes (6-3, 240) from Newbury Park.
Nose guard Mike Kildee (6-3, 265), who played offensive line last season and John Goslin (6-2, 240), who transferred from Cal Lutheran, are the team's best defensive linemen. Returning all-conference linebacker Miller Aupiu (6-0, 205) is the unit's best player.