Kennedy High School joins the Garden Grove League this season and instantly becomes the favorite among the league's coaches to win the boys' basketball championship.
La Quinta, Bolsa Grande and Los Amigos probably will contend with the Irish, who left the Empire League before this school year started.
Kennedy finished tied for second with Los Alamitos last season in the Empire League. But what scares opponents this season is what the Irish have done since then.
Kennedy was 40-6 over the summer, winning the Katella and Cerritos summer leagues. Plus, the Irish have a number of starters back from last season's 18-7 team.
"I just feel in the Garden Grove League, teams say, 'If we beat one team this year, (Kennedy) is the team to beat,' " said John Mayberry, Kennedy coach. "They've all developed a new rival.
"It's new. It's a nice challenge."
Pacifica also rejoins the league after spending six seasons (from 1981-82 to 1986-87) in the Empire League.
The addition of Kennedy and Pacifica notwithstanding, little else has changed.
La Quinta has four returning starters from last season's second-place team, including all-league forward Scott Campbell.
Bolsa Grande last season won its first league title in 25 years and has the league's top player in senior guard Joe Small, who was the league's most valuable player last season. He averaged 22.2 points and 11.9 rebounds a game and shot 55% from the field last season, earning him all-Southern Section 3-A honors.
At Los Amigos, Coach Famous Hooks is wondering just which Lobo team will show up this season.
"I watched them all summer," Hooks said. ". . . A mysterious team. Some days they could beat just about anybody and some days they couldn't beat the Sister Mother of Mercy. To tell you the honest truth, I have no idea (how we'll do)."
Here's a closer look at the Garden Grove League, with last season's records in parentheses:
BOLSA GRANDE (15-7, 9-1)
Key personnel--Joe Small (6-2, guard).
Top newcomers--Connie Epperson (6-1, forward), Harry Torikian (6-5, center), Damon Fisher (5-10, guard).
Outlook--The Matadors won their first league title since 1962 last season. Small should help Bolsa Grande stay in contention this season. First-year coach Ron Inman moves over from the Matador girls' program, where he spent the past three seasons. Before that, he was the varsity coach at Santiago. Fisher proved to be an exceptional athlete on the football field, running the Matadors' highly successful veer offense. It may be awhile before he comes out for the team, however. Bolsa Grande is one of the favorites to win the Central Conference football championship.
KENNEDY (18-7, 11-3 in Empire League)
Key personnel--Michael Keith (6-2, forward), Wendell Lauderdale (6-0, guard/forward), Mike Williams (6-5, forward/center), Mike Pettengill (5-9, guard).
Top newcomers--Maurice Keith (6-1, guard/forward), Glen Tarleton (6-2, center/forward), Jim Barker (6-2, forward/guard).
Outlook--Mayberry has a 10-year record of 156-92 as Kennedy's coach. The Irish have three starters and six lettermen back from a team that tied for second in the Empire League. Michael Keith (8.0 points-per-game average) and Lauderdale (7.5) were all-Empire League performers.
GARDEN GROVE (6-14, 3-7)
Key personnel--Ronnie Rhines (6-3, center).
Top newcomers--Isidro Maldonado (5-10, guard), Steve Sylvester (5-9, guard), Jason Freer (5-7, guard), Matt Westergaard (6-2, forward).
Outlook--"Inexperience could be a factor with only six (nonleague) games," Gene Campbell, Garden Grove coach, said. "If we mature quickly we will be competitive. Our defense will have to carry us for a while." The Argonauts must rely on the four newcomers--Maldonado, Sylvester, Freer and Westergaard, who played on the JV team last season--for much of their production. Rhines, the only starter from last season, averaged four points as a junior.
LA QUINTA (13-11, 7-3)
Key personnel--Kenny Bennett (5-9, guard), Scott Campbell (6-4, forward), Arri Buford (6-3, forward), Jim Brannan (6-3, guard).
Top newcomers--Scott Linck (6-2, guard), John Park (6-1, center), John Schneggenburger (6-1, forward), James Johnson (6-3, forward).
Outlook--The Aztecs are the perennial league-power. La Quinta, which was second last season, is looking for its 11th straight Southern Section playoff berth. Four starters are back for Coach Jim Perry, who said the Aztecs have no size. However, one look at the other teams around the league and the Aztecs appear bigger than average.
LOS AMIGOS (15-10, 6-4)
Key personnel--John Jenkins (6-3, guard/forward), Phil Romero (6-3, guard/forward), Charlie McCready (6-3, center).
Top newcomers--Carlos Palomino (6-1, guard), Jeff Booth (5-11, guard), Ashod Bitar (5-8, guard), Pomale Skipps (6-1, forward).