COACHES: Chick Epstein, 9th year
LAST SEASON: 4-5; 4th in league, 2-3
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Junior Danny Larson, a second-team all-Sunset League defensive back in 1987, will replace the graduated Alan Sedacca at quarterback. Sedacca passed for 1,398 yards and 8 touchdowns in 1987, but Epstein believes that the 6-1, 185-pound Larson can duplicate those numbers. "He's a big, strong kid who we're very high on," Epstein said. "He doesn't have a rifle for an arm, but he has good feet and he's very intelligent." Epstein, who is co-coach with Tom Richards, is also optimistic about the offensive line, which includes returning lettermen Tom Cherny (5-8, 180) and Derek Dempsey (6-1, 210) and newcomer June Sugamano (6-3, 270). Linebacker John Zuccaro (6-0, 190), defensive tackle Matt Savalas (6-2 1/2, 250) and safety Brian Herman (6-0, 170) contribute to a defense that will rely on quickness.
OUTLOOK: The Braves' effectiveness will depend on their passing game. "We're going to pass, pass pass," Epstein said.
COACH: Frank D'Alessandro, 5th year
LAST SEASON: 4-4; 5th in league, 1-4
PLAYERS TO WATCH: A stingy defense and a stodgy offense will again characterize the Vikings. The 4-4 defense, which allowed 13.8 points a game last season, will be anchored by Reggie Anderson (5-10, 220), an all-Sunset League defensive end as a junior. Chris Gleim (6-0, 180) and Dana Campos (6-1, 215) will lead a linebacking corps that is the strength of the defense. An inexperienced offense is D'Alessandro's biggest worry. Curtis Scott, a 5-11, 190-pound tailback who rushed for more than 200 yards in last year's season finale against Birmingham, will carry the bulk of the offensive load. Garrett Maxwell, last year's backup, and Jessie Wallace, promoted from the B team, will vie for the quarterback position. Tai Shawn Burt, Terry London and Charles Patrick are the top receivers.
OUTLOOK: The development of the offensive line will be the key to what D'Alessandro calls a rebuilding year. "If they pull together," he said. "We'll be all right."
COACH: Joel Schaeffer, 11th year
LAST SEASON: 10-1; 1st in league, 7-0
PLAYERS TO WATCH: After winning the 1986 City Section 2-A Division title and placing second last year, the Regents move up to the 3-A level. A bigger (6-5, 195) and stronger Coley Kyman again will quarterback an offense that averaged 26.5 points a game last season. "I'm expecting a lot out of Coley," Schaeffer said. "He's throwing the ball with more velocity this year." Tailback William Gaines (6-1, 190) and fullback Aaron Brumfield (6-1, 205) will replace last year's duo of Ronald Wilkinson (1,030 yards) and Chris Vargas (428). Tackle David Walker (6-5, 265), guard Erik Negrete (6-1, 215) and center Arturo Rodriguez (6-0, 180) head an experienced offensive line, and John Marks and Fred Seyrer will start at wide receiver. Defense will again be a strength--the team only allowed 176.1 yards and 8.9 points a game last season--with Rodriguez and Brumfield starting at inside linebacker and Negrete, Walker and Darrick Moore (6-1, 210) anchoring the line.
OUTLOOK: Though the Regents have lost All-City players David Wilson, Sam Edwards and Wilkinson to graduation, Schaeffer expects to field another talented squad. "I'd be a fool if I said we won't miss those guys," Schaeffer said. "But we have the nucleus for a good team. This is not a rebuilding year. We're not going to be intimidated by anyone."
COACH: Kenji Mochizuki, 2nd year
LAST SEASON: 3-5-1; 5th in league, 1-4
PLAYERS TO WATCH: The starting offensive backfield and leading receiver graduated. However, the team is bigger, stronger and faster, according to Mochizuki. "We've got a lot of talented skill-position players and we're vastly improved on the line," he said. Guards Lee Freeman (6-5, 245) and Corey Borns (6-1, 218), and tackle Advin Babayova (6-2, 216), all juniors, head the offensive line and tackle David Melody (6-0, 190) anchors the defensive line. Russell Hester will attempt to duplicate Muhammad Zaid's numbers (1,014 yards in 1987) at tailback and either Keith Quigley or Roy Vasich will start at quarterback. "We should be able to pass the ball better and catch the ball better," Mochizuki said. Tight end Vartan Yaralian and wide receiver Aliaf Atash will be the primary targets. Linebackers Jeff Kim (5-11, 180) and Anthony Lopez (6-1, 185) and cornerback Billy Grandy (5-10, 155) are key defensive players.
OUTLOOK: After winning one game in the previous three seasons, Van Nuys tripled that total in 1987, and Mochizuki says that the Wolves are capable of approaching the .500 mark. "We're capable of being a better team this year than last year," he said.