For those who thought the rivalry between Capistrano Valley and El Toro high schools ended on the football field, consider this::
--The schools are the favorites to successfully defend their South Coast League basketball co-championship and will be ranked among the county's top 10 teams.
--The top returning players for each squad are two All-American quarterbacks--Bret Johnson of El Toro and Todd Marinovich of Capistrano Valley.
--The teams won't waste any time heating up the rivalry, meeting in the featured game in the South Coast League's tip-off on Jan. 13 in UC Irvine's Bren Center.
"I don't know what the carry-over is going to be from the football season," said Tim Travers, El Toro coach. "But it's a great way to start the league."
El Toro is a quick, fast-breaking team triggered by Johnson's play at point guard. Johnson was an all-county selection as a junior, averaging 17.9 points and 7.1 rebounds.
Capistrano Valley, led by twin towers Jim Waikle (7-feet) and Steve McCaughey (6-10), is a methodical team that relies on its size and outside shooting. The Cougars swept the two-game series against El Toro last season.
Marinovich is a solid forward who averaged 15 points per game, but Waikle and McCaughey continue to be the biggest question marks in the county.
"One game, they look like all-world and another, you hardly notice them," said Mark Thornton, Capistrano Valley coach. "If the two big people get it together, we could be good."
Steve Thornton, Dana Hills coach, gives Capistrano Valley a slight edge over El Toro based on the Cougars' depth.
"Capo Valley's second team would be competitive in most leagues," Thornton said. "The only question about that team is at point guard. They've been spoiled with great ones like Burt and Nathan Call and Scott McCullough in the past, and I don't see anyone of that caliber on this year's team."
If either team slips, Mission Viejo could follow the lead of its football team and sneak into first place. The Diablos have won 81 games over the past four seasons and have qualified for the Southern Section playoffs in seven of the past 10 seasons.
Here's a closer look at the South Coast League, with last season's records in parentheses:
CAPISTRANO VALLEY (18-9, 8-2)
Key personnel: Jim Waikle (7-0, C); Todd Marinovich (6-5, G/F); Randy Stark (6-3, F); Charles Lockard (6-0, G), and Steve McCaughey (6-10, F).
Top newcomers: Scott McCorkle (6-5, F); Chris Kostoff (6-2, G); Andy Bosma (6-5, F/C), and Frank Aguilar (6-4, F).
Outlook: Marinovich, Lockard and Kostoff are excellent shooters who should adapt quickly to the new three-point shot. Waikle and McCaughey are rarely offensive threats, but the big guys do present all kinds of problems for opposing offenses. The Cougars beat Marina three times over the summer and won tournaments at Dana Hills and Trabuco Hills. Newcomers Kostoff and McCorkle, both sophomores, are two players whom college coaches and scouts will watch closely over the next couple of years. Kostoff showed in the Servite summer tournament that he can shoot as well as anyone in the county. Look for both players to break into the starting lineup before the season ends. Capistrano Valley will play Bishop Ireton in Alexandria, Va., and Archbishop Carroll in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 21-22.
DANA HILLS (6-16, 4-6)
Key personnel: John Lloyd (6-8, C); Donny Macintyre (6-3, G); Chris Delfs (6-0, G), and Brent Gaut (6-0, G).
Top newcomers: Tyrone Meixsell (6-3, F); Brent Hilliard (6-4, G); Mike Fedden (6-3, F), and Brendhan Quinn (6-3, F/C).
Outlook: The Dolphins were a young team last season with three sophomores in the starting lineup. Predictably, they started slowly, but they won four of their six games in the second round of league play. They defeated Mission Viejo and Irvine and lost to Capistrano Valley in double overtime. Lloyd, a junior, has been a pleasant surprise and has added 20 pounds. "I've never had a player that has improved as much as John from one year to the next," Thornton said. Gaut injured his knee in the Dolphins' final football game and has been unable to practice. "We are much improved, but we could still end up finishing fourth or fifth in the league," Thornton said. "This is the toughest league in the county."
EL TORO (18-9, 8-2)
Key personnel: Bret Johnson (6-1, G); Eric Speaker (6-5, F); Cory Wayland (6-5, C); Khari Johnson (6-5, F); Mike Van Riette (6-2, G), and Chris Soriano (6-2, F).
Top newcomers: Rob Johnson (6-4, F); Brian McNamara (6-0, G), and Don Reznicek (6-0, G).