How good was the Orange League last season?
Valencia High School, the league champion, defeated second-place finisher Anaheim, 13-0, to win the Central Conference championship.
Western, which tied Anaheim for second, tied Anaheim, 13-13, in the regular-season finale. And Western beat Valencia, 24-10.
That's how good.
And how good will the Orange League be this season?
Valencia has two veteran running backs, a solid secondary and is considered, with Anaheim, to be the class of the league again.
Anaheim gained a transfer running back who gained 1,200 yards last season as a junior.
Western, with an impressive newcomer at quarterback, also could challenge for the league title.
Needless to say, expectations are high just about all over.
"When I first came to this school they never won a game," said Mike Marrujo, in his eighth season as Valencia coach. "Now they've won and everyone's talking crazy. They don't realize how difficult it is to win even one game.
"The more you win, the more you expect."
Valencia won its first Southern Section football title last season. The Tigers have won or tied for the league title five straight times.
Ted Mullen, in his second season at Anaheim, has been in championship games before and knows the significance.
After all, Mullen's teams have made six appearances in championship games. He won Southern Conference titles at Villa Park in 1977 and Foothill in 1981.
"They (the players) react one of two ways: They can think it's an automatic. Or they can see how much more fun it is and work hard to get there again," Mullen said.
Said Jon Looney, Brea-Olinda's new coach: "Any time that (two teams from the same league meet in a title game) it's a boost for the league.
"I was hoping (Anaheim) would be down a little bit. Ted wins anywhere he goes. It doesn't matter who he's got there he's going to win."
ANAHEIM--The rich do get richer. Johnny Mountain, the third-leading rusher in Orange County last season, transferred to Anaheim last spring from Foothill.
Mountain rushed for 1,200 yards at Foothill and figures to be the Colonists' chief offensive weapon this season. Mullen was Mountain's coach at Foothill two years ago.
Mullen has been so pleased with the play of quarterback Dan Pacillas that he has moved Robert Aldaz, last year's starter, to safety. Mullen also said he expects Aldaz to be one of the top field goal kickers in the county.
Pacillas started several games last season and played much of the second half of the Central Conference championship when Aldaz was injured after making a tackle.
Mullen is making a few other changes, too.
Jason Gold, who played tight end last season, moves to middle linebacker. John Barber, a linebacker last year, will play defensive end.
"It's hard to follow on that (reaching the final), but we hope to," Mullen said. "We have 77 kids out. We're green on experience. But we have a lot of enthusiasm, so that's good."
BREA-OLINDA--The Wildcats could turn out to be the most improved team in the league. Looney takes over as coach after spending four seasons at the Wildcats' defensive coordinator.
Since replacing Bill Brown, Looney has instituted tougher and more disciplined workouts and is pleased with the results.
"I told them hell week would be back and it certainly was," Looney said. "I'm real pleased with their attitude. They've accepted the challenge."
Chad Marlow, a junior quarterback who started last season, offers experience and leadership to a junior-dominated team.
Wire receivers Jason Clements and Mark Shaw and running back Eddie Stewart are the Wildcats' other offensive threats.
Jason Miller, a defensive end and starting fullback, also played a considerable amount last year.
The Wildcats have been the not-so-happy wanderers since their on-campus stadium was torn down in 1987 in preparation of a move to a new school site.
This year, Brea plays home games at Nogales High in La Puente against Walnut, at Fullerton District Stadium (against Troy), at La Habra (against Sonora), at Western (against Western) and at Glover Stadium (against Savanna).
MAGNOLIA--Tony DiThomas is the Sentinels' new coach, replacing John Hangartner, who resigned for medical reasons last season. DiThomas, who was the defensive coordinator at Riverside North last year, faces a difficult task at Magnolia.
The Sentinels' only victory, which kept them out of last place, was a 33-22 decision over Savanna.
Duff Anderson, a tight end, defensive lineman and kicker, and Bobby Musgrave, the leading receiver last year, are two key players for Magnolia.
Kris Walsh, a linebacker and running back, is another veteran.
Linemen John Corliss and Vince Crisostomo and defensive back Keith Chong also started last season.
SAVANNA--"Savanna has to be better," Anaheim's Mullen said.
Things were pretty bad for the Rebels last season. Savanna went 0-10 in 1987, was shut out 6 times and came close to winning only twice. Garden Grove beat Savanna, 10-7, in the first game of the season and Magnolia defeated Savanna, 33-22.