The silver anniversary of Carson High School could be celebrated with another golden moment, a City 4-A championship. The Colts, defending champions, are favorites to win again in 1987, making them the No. 1 team in The Times' preseason rankings.
"We opened with 10th and 11th graders and I thought we'd win then," said Coach Gene Vollnogle, who begins the season Friday with a 190-61-1 record in 24 years at Carson. "I always think we'll win."
And, as always, Banning should be close by, even with John Hazelton replacing Chris Ferragamo as coach.
The top 10:
1986 Record: 11-1
Coach: Gene Vollnogle
Strengths: Passing game, with quarterback George Malauulu a returning starter, wide receivers Bryan Reeves and Brian Treggs and tight end Cephus Robey. Depth at tailback, with Tyrone Bland, Alfred Lowe and Charles Varrie. Linebackers Rick Tiedemann and Arnold Ale. Safety Charles Gardner.
Weaknesses: Inexperience in the defensive line, where all four starters are new. Inexperience in the offensive line.
Outlook: The skill positions will have to make up for the inexperience of the defensive line, at least at the start. "At the gifted positions, we're as good as we've ever been," Vollnogle said. That's saying something.
1986 Record: 11-1
Coach: John Hazelton
Strengths: A huge offensive line--6-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 from left to right with a top reserve at 6-4. The right side is the strongest, with guard Titus Tuiasosopo, who will also play some tight end, and tackle Mike Alexander. Hazelton, who coached Todd Bowser, another outstanding offensive lineman, two years ago at Montclair Prep calls tackle Bob Whitfield, a 6-7, 275-pound junior "the best big kid I've ever been on a high school field with." Fullback Merle Williams and tailbacks Keith Mims and Zachariah Davis. Defensive line and linebackers.
Weaknesses: Only two starters return from last season's team, which lost to Carson in the City 4-A championship game. An untested secondary, untested receivers and a quarterback, Robert Kapu, in his first year of varsity ball.
Outlook: "We will try to beat people physically," Hazelton said. With that line, why not? Needs leadership from the seniors to offset the youth of the team. More than one person has said Banning will finish lower than second in the 4-A or lose to a Valley team, both rare occurrences. Opens on the road Friday with Pasadena Muir, the two-time defending Coastal Conference champion and 2-0 in 1987, at Pasadena City College.
1986 Record: 9-1-1
Coach: Darryl Stroh
Strengths: Quarterback Jeremy Leach, a returning All-City 4-A pick who threw 14 touchdown passes and only 3 interceptions last season. Tight end Sean Brown, an All-City pick in 1986 and one of the best all-around athletes in Southern California. Wide receivers Kyle Jan and Daryl Stephenson. Running back Jamal Farmer. All-league safety Kevin Carmichael. Brown and Farmer at cornerbacks.
Weaknesses: Both lines, especially depth.
Outlook: Bombs away. Their passing attack makes the Highlanders a threat to any team, including Carson Oct. 16. They will, however, need to have some running game to keep the defenses honest and, of course, protection from the offensive line.
1986 Record: 8-2
Coach: Steve Landress
Strengths: Secondary, with David Mack and Turhon O'Bannon. Wide receivers Sean Burwell, Lee Gatewood and Mario Hull, and Burwell at running back. Mack and O'Bannon at wide receiver. All-league tackle Jason Silverstein, a three-year starter. Tight end Chaka Milby. Defensive tackles Shawn Marshall and Cedric Ellis. Depth at linebacker.
Weaknesses: Special teams. Landress likes the depth at running back, but none has ever played on the varsity. Probably more of a question mark than a weakness.
Outlook: After posting a 3-14 record in the previous two years, the Cavaliers had an 8-1 regular-season mark in '86 before losing to Carson in the playoffs. "I think we'll be real competitive," Landress said. "I don't think we have any real glaring weaknesses." Burwell, the new running back is hardly a newcomer to the position. He was a 1,000-yard rusher for Chaminade last season, then transferred and will be eligible the second week. Hull and Jaime Grossman split time at quarterback last season and both are back, supplying depth at yet another position.
1986 Record: 6-4
Co-Coaches: Paul Knox and Eugene McAdoo
Strengths: Quarterback Roman Foster, who started three games last season. Wide receivers Damon Beckom and Saditte Green. Tailback Cheka Jenkins, who can also catch passes. Tackle Steven Echols and guard Kenneth Fluellen, both on the right side. Linebackers Lidge Proutt, Shariff Shah and Ross Harris. Defensive end Chris Mimms. Safety Shawn Miller and cornerback Henri Spears.
Weaknesses: Inexperience in the defensive line, with Mimms the only returning starter in the 4-3 setup. Untested secondary and offensive line.