COACH: Jim Beckenhauer, 4th year
LAST SEASON: 5-6; 3rd in league; 3-2
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Eighteen lettermen return for Crescenta Valley, including eight defensive starters. "We're hoping that will be a strong point for us," Beckenhauer said. "We're real happy with the fact that we have the sound personnel returning." The defensive line and backfield should be the two strongest areas. Dave Bartl (6-1, 275), a first-team, all-league defensive lineman, Paul Wiley (6-2, 185) and Glen Nash (6-3, 240) anchor the line. Brent Lewis, Victor Ramirez and Hyok Chang cover the backfield. Ramirez, who doubles as the Falcons' tailback, is one of five returning offensive starters. Although Ramirez (5-6, 140) is small, he will have a big line--led by Leon Panduro (5-8, 230), a first-team, all-league guard, and tackle Darren Haines (6-2, 220)--to run behind. Chang, a backup last year, will start at quarterback this season. "I think he can do it," Beckenhauer said. "He's a real good leader and he's a great kid to coach." With Ramirez and second-team, all-league fullback John Whitlock returning, Beckenhauer is willing to let Chang develop slowly while the Falcons run through the preseason.
OUTLOOK: Crescenta Valley has not had a winning record since 1978, but Beckenhauer believes that the Falcons' 18 returning starters will turn things around. "We have been down for a number of years. In the '70s, we were very strong, but the '80s have not been really good to us," he said. "But we're looking forward to this year. This group of kids has dedicated themselves to turning things around."
COACH: Don Shoemaker, 1st year
LAST SEASON: 2-6-2; 4th in league, 1-3-1
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Glendale has the muscle to compete with perennial league powers Muir and Pasadena. Every starting offensive lineman weighs 200 pounds or more, and many start both ways. Offensive tackle-inside linebacker John Garrett (6-4, 255) is being recruiting by several schools, including BYU, USC, Fresno State and Georgia. Garrett will be joined on the offensive line by guard Eric Giden (6-0, 235), center Joe Graciano (5-10, 210) and tight end Dean Colvin (6-2, 215). Colvin, who is being recruited by USC, West Point and Hawaii, also will line up next to Garrett at inside linebacker and all-league safety Tony Polino (5-11, 185) returns to lead the defensive backfield. Quarterback Rick Callister, who threw for 815 yards in nine games last fall, returns and will have speedy wide receivers Corey White (4.5-second 40) and Rick Kownack (4.6 in the 40). The Dynamiters' lone area of concern is running back, where Rafi Thorossian (6-1, 210) starts ahead of a number of inexperienced runners.
OUTLOOK: Shoemaker, who takes over the program after co-coaching the Dynamiters the past two years, is not worried about being trampled by Muir and Pasadena. "We're a very physical, strong team," he said. But Glendale needs to establish a running attack to balance Callister's strong arm if it wants to beat Muir and Pasadena. . "If we can get a little bit of a ground attack, people won't be able to key on Rick," Shoemaker said.
COACH: Dennis Hughes, 3rd year
LAST SEASON: 6-5; 1st in league, 4-1
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Hoover is stocked with experienced skill-position players. Last year's quarterback, Eric Mussal (6-2, 205), moves to halfback in the Tornadoes' wishbone offense and teams with two-year starter Chad Rinn (5-11, 175) in the backfield. Steve Solano (5-10, 165) will be the quarterback and junior Mark Garza will be his primary receiver. Junior Rich Humphrey (6-2, 205) is the top player on an offensive line that lost all of last year's starters to graduation. But the biggest hole Hoover has to fill is the defense, where the Tornadoes lost nine of 11 starters. "That really hurt us," Hughes said. "But we feel we have some good kids who can step in." Mussal leads the linebacking crew, Garza (6-0, 170) will play in the defensive secondary and Robert Marceau (6-3, 210) anchors the defensive line. If the defense can keep opponents at bay and the offense can move into its opponents' territory, Hughes is confident Hoover can score; senior kicker Brad Faunce kicked a 55-yard field goal during practice a few weeks ago. "Any time we get within the 40-yard line, we feel we can score," Hughes said.
OUTLOOK: The defense, with two shutouts in the last two games, led the the team to a league co-championship. Hoover's soph-frosh team is 14-5 over the past two years and Hughes is confident replacements will be found for the varsity's nine graduated defensive starters. Said Hughes: "The kids are going to learn under the gun but I'm sure they will perform for us."