Dick Flaherty knew he had his work cut out for him when he accepted the job as Saugus football coach. In the highly competitive Golden League, the Centurions were 0-10 and finished last in 1986.
But in Flaherty's first season, Saugus posted a respectable 4-6 record and climbed out of the league cellar--if barely-- with a 1-4 mark. The Centurions, who faced nine teams that qualified for the playoffs, were in contention for a playoff berth until the final week of the season when they lost to Antelope Valley, 28-6.
Saugus also held its own against its Santa Clarita Valley rivals. Saugus battled Canyon before falling, 18-16, and narrowly lost to Hart, the Foothill League champion, 21-15.
"We were competitive in almost every game," Flaherty said. "I thought we'd go to the playoffs. I'm a little down about that. I expect us to make the playoffs next year."
Flaherty will have to do it without tailback-kick returner Lamark Allen. Allen, a graduating senior, amassed 1,799 yards in rushing, receiving, kick and interception returns for an average of 9.9 yards every time he touched the ball.
Passing: Alemany's two-pronged quarterback attack of senior right-hander Roy Talavera and sophomore left-hander Joey Rosselli finished with a combined 1,961 yards, which places Alemany second among Valley-area Southern Section teams. Alemany, however, was winless the last six weeks of the season. Alemany started the season with a 3-0-1 record but closed with an 0-5-1 mark.
Rushing: Pass-happy Granada Hills was not expected to spend much time worrying about the success of the running game this season. But running back Jamal Farmer might have changed the Highlander hierarchy's thinking. Farmer, a senior, has rushed for more than 100 yards four times this year, including twice in the past two weeks. Farmer had 113 yards in a 35-20 win over San Fernando and 126 yards in a 34-0 win over El Camino Real on Friday. . . . Oak Park (7-3) suffered its losses when running back Jason Stein was held to fewer than 100 yards. . . . Royal started the season 1-1-1, primarily behind running back Chad Sourbeer, who had gained 421 yards. Royal did not win a game the rest of the season and Sourbeer rushed for only 408 yards in the final seven games. . . . In Thousand Oaks' two non-winning games--a 7-6 loss to Westlake and a 17-17 tie with Simi Valley--running back Marc Monestime rushed for 132 yards in each game. . . . Newbury Park (1-8-1) rushed for an average of 61.3 yards a game, which may have put too much pressure on junior quarterback Wayne Cook, who completed just 44% of his passes. Cook was 89 of 210 for 1,332 yards and had 13 touchdown passes and 9 interceptions.
Offense: Notre Dame's offense might have been sporadic, but the Knights found the groove in their final two games, scoring 84 points in Del Rey League victories over St. John Bosco and Alemany. In those games, running back Jere Deranja rushed for 202 yards--which broken down is almost identical to his game average (100) during the course of the season. Deranja finished with 1,001 yards in 10 games. He also led the team with 10 touchdowns.
Broken record: Fullback Scott Pensis of Calabasas set a school career rushing record with 1,542 yards and tailback Mike Webb rushed for a single-season high of 1,040 yards. Linebacker Ed LeBlanc had a school-record 136 tackles.
Defense: Camarillo's Gil Valencia, who was inserted at defensive back in the Scorpions' third game, leads Valley-area players with seven interceptions. . . . Cleveland's Mario Hull, who plays wide receiver, quarterback and defensive back, completed 2 of 4 passes for 33 yards, caught a pass for a touchdown and intercepted two passes in Cleveland's 31-7 win over Newbury Park. . . . Village Christian had the stingiest defense in the Alpha League, allowing 127.2 yards per game and 23 points. The Crusaders offense was anemic, however, averaging 125.2 yards and 6.8 points a game.