The word is out on the Sunset League's best team: It's Marina High School.
And you have to keep an eye out for Westminster. Ocean View is another team with loads of talent. Edison may have its best team in years.
Oh well, you might as well throw Huntington Beach and Fountain Valley in there, too. Both have as good a shot at a playoff berth as any team.
The Sunset League has its most balanced, most competitive makeup in many seasons.
Most league coaches figure that Marina and Westminster are the top teams, but the other four are not far behind. The Vikings and Lions both have a number of outstanding players back from last season, but picking a winner is anybody's guess at this point.
"I look at us and Westminster as being co-favorites," Marina Coach Steve Popovich said. "Last year, we won the league and Huntington Beach was 1-9. You won't see that disparity this year."
Marina has one of the league's most proven players in Steve Guild, a 6-foot 6-inch senior swing man, and one of the top newcomers in Cherokee Parks, a 6-9 center.
Guild averaged 17.2 points and 10.5 rebounds last season, earning all-league honors. Parks is a 14-year-old freshman with lots of talent.
"It's a whole new type of game for him to play in," Popovich said. "Based on summer leagues and practice, he's adjusting well so far. He's very coordinated with really good hands. He's a quick learner."
Parks is following in Guild's footsteps. Guild also started for Popovich as a freshman.
Westminster has all five starters returning from last season's team, including 6-10 center Chris Tower, who averaged 16.1 points and 6.5 rebounds a game as a junior.
Tower and Guild were the only underclassmen to make the all-league team last season.
Mark Austin, a 6-3 forward, also averaged in double figures at 13.1 points per game.
"It's a tough league," Westminster Coach Dick Katz said. "All of us will be competitive for the playoffs."
At Ocean View, a longtime league power, Coach Jim Harris has a young, inexperienced team, but the junior varsity was 8-2 last season, and the varsity figures to be in the chase for the league title.
Here's a closer look at the Sunset League, with last season's records in parentheses:
EDISON (12-12, 4-6)
Key personnel: Chip Hanlon (6-4, forward), Chris Lippincott (6-7, center), Alvin Loftis (5-11, guard), Mike Hunter (6-4, forward).
Top newcomers: Brian Ryder (6-4, forward), Chris Henry (6-4, f/c).
Outlook: Coach Jon Bochert said this could be the best team he has had a Edison. Hanlon (eight points, six rebounds per game) and Lippincott started last season. Lippincott averaged three points and four rebounds as a part-time starter. Bochert said the Chargers, who were fourth last season, should be a very good shooting team with a high-scoring offense and a pressuring man-to-man defense.
FOUNTAIN VALLEY (12-11, 6-4)
Key personnel: Jim Borgquist (6-3, guard), Tom Weaver (6-0, guard).
Top newcomers: Kevin Anderson (6-5, center), Steve Grack (6-0, guard), Lew Murdent (6-3, forward), Tim Huke (6-3, forward).
Outlook: The Barons have no returning starters, but Borgquist and Weaver played on last season's third-place team. Murdent was the leading scorer on the junior varsity and, along with Anderson, will be counted on by Coach Dave Brown for added punch. Brown said the Barons have no star players and will rely on ball handling and shooting.
HUNTINGTON BEACH (5-20, 1-9)
Top newcomers: Andy Thompson (5-10, guard), Rich Hughes (6-0, guard), Brandon Lott (6-4, forward), David Bonaparte (6-2, forward), Chad Kurz (6-4, f/c), Dan Miller (5-11, forward).
Outlook: The Oilers have no returners from last season's last-place team. However, they do have a solid corps of junior varsity players. The junior varsity was 20-3 last season and won the Sunset League with a 10-0 record. The top eight players for Coach Roy Miller will be playing their first varsity games. The Oilers had a successful summer league, going 7-3 in their league and 5-2 in the Los Alamitos summer league. Thompson, a junior, is the last in a long line of athletic brothers playing at Huntington Beach.
MARINA (22-5, 8-2)
Key personnel: Steve Guild (6-6, g/f), David Yamate (6-3, forward), Dan Floyd (6-7, center)
Top newcomers: Jim Campbell (6-0, guard), Cherokee Parks (6-9, center), Brian Richardson (6-3, forward), Duane Cameron (6-5, forward), Sam Chirco (6-0, guard).
Outlook: The Vikings are nine deep with great size and flexibility. For example, the defending champions can play Guild, who is 6-6, at the wing or at point guard, in relief of Campbell, a backup last season. Parks and Floyd, who averaged seven points and eight rebounds a game, give the Vikings the league's best size. The Vikings are coming off an 18-5 summer league season. However, the Vikings lost co-MVP Mark Georgeson to graduation. Georgeson averaged 16 points a game last season.
OCEAN VIEW (18-7, 7-3)
Key personnel: Mike Frohn (6-0, guard), Todd Norman (6-5, f/c).