Cal Poly SLO
COACH: Lyle Setencich, first year
LAST SEASON: 5-5; 4th in conference, 3-3
PLAYERS TO WATCH: The Mustangs were consistently inconsistent last season. Example: SLO lost to Cal State Northridge, 21-20, in the last second of a game, then got blown out at Portland State 66-7, two weeks later. The following week, SLO beat conference champion Cal State Sacramento, 26-6. Lyle Setencich, who had a 24-20 record at Division I-AA Boise State in five years, replaces Jim Sanderson as head coach. He inherits an experienced group on offense, including five starters scheduled to return on the offensive line. Tackle Eric Tautolo is the conference's biggest player at 6-5, 320 pounds. At quarterback for the Mustangs will be Tom Sullivan, a transfer from Sacramento City College. Sullivan (6-0, 180), passed for 1,914 yards and 12 touchdowns last season to help Sacramento to a 10-1-1 record. At the receiving positions SLO has three players who combined for 89 receptions last season. Lance Martin, a senior, was the team leader with 41 catches for 715 yards. Claude Joseph had 28 catches for 421 yards and Heath Owens had 20 for 346. Sophomores Cornell Williams (303 yards) and Todd Henderson (259 yards) are the top rushers returning. On defense, the Mustangs have three starters back on the line and three more in the secondary, but they are looking for replacements at linebacker. All-American Kevin Emigh will be the punter. He was second in Division II last season with a 43.1 average.
OUTLOOK: "We're going to try and throw a lot if we can protect the quarterback," Setencich said. "With our linemen, we should be able to do that. We have experience on the offensive line but no where else. We have some good players on defense, but not much depth behind them. There's no question we're young and maybe a year away."
COACH: Bob Mattos, 10th year (47-48-2)
LAST SEASON: 6-4-1; 1st in conference, 5-1
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Last season, Sacramento won its first title in 20 years when quarterback Drew Wyant hit Lin Klinkhammer with a touchdown pass with 13 seconds left in the game to beat Northridge, 21-17. The school is billing this season as "The Year of the Hair," in reference to junior running back Don Hair, who is being counted on to bring the Hornets consecutive championships. "I think he may be the best Division II back in the country," Mattos said. Hair (5-9, 185) rushed for more than 1,000 yards as a freshmen in 1985 but was slowed by a knee injury last season and gained 678 yards. Wyant (6-2, 200 pounds), whose only start was against CSUN, returns for his sophomore year. Freshmen Steve Buccelato will replace running back Rob Harrison (1,347 yards), who was drafted and cut by the Raiders. The big question mark for Sacramento is its defensive backfield. All four of the talented players in last season's secondary are gone, including Lorenzo Lynch, who was the WFC defensive player of the year. Four JC transfers will start, including cornerback John Russell from Harbor; corner back Chris Barr from Glendale; safety Keith Waters from Modesto and safety J.R. Richards from San Francisco City.
OUTLOOK: "Last year we had a lot of depth, so we were able to survive something like 31 lineup changes and still win the conference," Mattos said. "This year we won't have that luxury. We're going to be kind of green."
COACH: Pokey Allen, second year (6-5)
LAST SEASON: 6-5; tied for second in conference, 4-2
PLAYERS TO WATCH: The Vikings have 12 starters back, none more important than junior quarterback Chris Crawford (5-11, 180), who passed for 2,766 yards and 16 touchdowns. "He was battered last year and he still had a great season," Allen said. "We're trying to keep the pressure off him this season. I just want him to relax." That may be difficult for Crawford because Brian Coushay, a two-time all-conference split end, has graduated. The receiving corps includes junior tight end Barry Noane (6-2, 225), who led the WFC with 62 receptions, and junior split end Tim Corrigan (35 catches for 535 yards), who has started for two years. The question mark for the Vikings is the offensive line, where three starters were lost to graduation, including two-time all-conference tackle Roland Aumueller and Jon Shields. Center Dave Swanson (6-2, 240) and guard Bill Duarte (6-1, 250) are returning starters, but nothing has been settled at the other positions. Senior running back Kevin Johnson (5-8, 185) had six consecutive 100-yard games in 1986 before suffering a season-ending knee injury. A pair of JC All-American defensive ends, Anthony Spears (6-6, 260) and John Wunderlich (6-2, 240), should help bolster the defense.
OUTLOOK: "We won't be successful unless our offensive line comes together," Allen said. "Also, at the Division II level you always have a depth problem. A couple of key injuries and we go from being a good football team to an average one."
COACH: Terry Malley, third year (12-9-1)
LAST SEASON: 4-7; sixth in conference, 2-4