Joel Schaeffer will be the first to admit that he isn't the most daring coach who ever stalked a sideline. When Schaeffer rolls the dice, real risk-takers roll their eyes.
Schaeffer's Reseda teams typically are characterized by a defense that patiently waits for the offense to finish its business, then goes its merry way, countering any offensive swordplay with a parry of its own.
Consider what the Regent defense did in 1986, when the team was 10-2 and won the City Section 2-A championship. The defense recorded six shutouts, including five in a seven-game stretch, and held three other opponents to seven points or less. Reseda allowed just 74 points, an average of 140 yards a game and a paltry 597 yards on the ground all season.
Fittingly, Reseda capped the season by blanking University in the 2-A final.
That was last year--but Pac 8 opponents can look forward to more of the same. Reseda has several key players back, including linebacker and tight end David Wilson, the 2-A player of the year. Shawn Peet and Kevin Gravning, who also started last year, rejoin Wilson to give the Regents one of the Valley's best linebacking units.
All-City selection Sam Edwards, who also starts at wide receiver, returns in the secondary, where he picked off nine passes last year. It's going to be tough to pass or run on Reseda.
"They should be awesome," said Venice Coach Al Dellinger, whose team was blanked last year by the Regents, 14-0. "With that defense and an improved offense, they should just walk through the league. We're down, University is down, I think the only team that can compete with them is North Hollywood."
That might be a little optimistic. North Hollywood lost to Reseda, 50-0, last year.
"I've given this a lot of thought," North Hollywood Coach Fred Grimes said, "and I think that on paper they're a 4-A team. To be competitive with them we'd have to play our best game and catch them on a down night.
"But it can happen. Last year Sylmar and University beat them and we beat Sylmar and University. Who knows?"
Let the record show that Sylmar and University did beat Reseda in the regular season, but both schools changed coaches and lost several skill-position players.
Reseda, on the other hand, has Ronald Wilkinson, its biggest offensive threat, back for his senior season. Wilkinson, an All-City halfback, rushed for 1,065 yards last year. Scrappy fullback Chris Vargas, who grinds out tough yardage up the middle in Reseda's keep-it-simple offensive scheme, also returns.
Reseda also might show improvement at quarterback. Coley Kyman, an All-City volleyball player who was perhaps the team's best passer last season as a sophomore, returns. His playing time was limited as a backup to seniors Donnie Grant and Mike Lance, and Kyman was academically ineligible for the playoffs.
"As if they weren't strong enough, they have a guy that can throw the ball," Dellinger said. "They should be much stronger at quarterback."
Last year, the Regents needed only an average of 210 yards a game on offense. The defense did the rest.