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MARMONTE LEAGUE : Title Race Promises to Include Same Pair

September 08, 1988|STEVE HENSON | Times Staff Writer

Change comes slowly in the Marmonte League, where Channel Islands and Thousand Oaks should tangle once again for the championship while the other five teams vie for the third playoff spot.

After finishing second in 1986, Channel Islands took the league championship last season, but lost twice to Thousand Oaks, the second time in the Coastal Conference final. Thousand Oaks, league champion in 1986, was second last season, but more than made amends by winning the conference.

The Raiders and Lancers again are the class of league. A look at each Marmonte team:

Channel Islands--Improving upon the 1,672 yards, 27 touchdowns and 9.8-yard rushing average of last season is a considerable challenge for John Johnson, but don't bet against him. Four starters are back on the offensive line, including guards Jose Montelongo (5 feet, 9 inches, 207 pounds) and Larry Pearson (6-0, 205), and tackles Gil Coria (6-2, 212) and Russell Edwards (6-2, 200).

As he did last year, Coach Joel Gershon will alternate Vince Medina and Mark Contreras at quarterback. But the Raiders didn't win the league title and post an 11-3 record by passing. A quick-hitting fullback is essential to the success of the wing T, and replacing E. J. Miller's 948 yards is Gershon's toughest offensive challenge.

Making winning players of a junior class that was 0-9 as sophomores is another challenge. Fullback-linebacker Al de la Cerda and tackle Jimmy Porter and sophomore safety Renard Carnes are the top newcomers.

Defensive back Rod Jones (5-9, 175), who may also play fullback, and linebackers Lucio Vera (5-10, 182) and Gerald Williams (6-1, 200) head the defense.

Thousand Oaks--By contrast, the Lancer junior varsity was 9-0-1 last season and its members will be counted upon to contribute. The smooth-running offensive machine that led Thousand Oaks to a 12-1-1 record and the Coastal Conference title loses most of its key components. Only slotback David Kuenstle and two-way linemen Rick McCathron (6-4, 245) and Lance Burch (6-1, 227) return on offense. Kuenstle has moved to tailback, where he is competing against junior transfer Mike Lindsay and junior Steve Rudisill.

Quarterback Anthony Gonzales (6-0, 163), a senior, has been impressive in practice. Kicker John Mogler, 14 of 15 on PAT kicks last year, will start at receiver. Linebacker Jeff Moore, a returning starter, is a defensive leader.

Camarillo--All juniors and transfers form the offensive line, which will block for an inexperienced set of backs. In fact, the only returning offensive starter--lineman Brent Heninger--has been moved to defense by Coach Carl Thompson, who directed the Scorpions to a 6-5 record and a playoff berth last season.

Seniors Brett Ropes and Wes Nathaniel are competing at quarterback, sophomore Kris Kirksey will play tailback and Roger Teoli is the fullback.

Top defensive players include linebacker Curtis Hanson, nose guard Steve Heidemann and tackle Mike Gregson.

Westlake--Nine starters return for Coach George Contreras, whose Warriors were 6-4 last season. Senior Keith Burke (5-11, 165) rushed for 301 yards and averaged 7.3 yards a carry while playing tailback last season, but he has moved to fullback where he'll get more carries in Westlake's wing T. Junior Luke Crawford replaces Burke at tailback.

Matt Wolcott and Rick Kohut are the receivers for quarterbacks Todd Preston and Chris Edwards. Linebacker Evan Baker, who led the team in tackles last season, returns to lead the defense.

Simi Valley--Replacing Tony Kerr, the running back, safety and heart and soul of the Pioneers, will be difficult. But Coach Dave Murphy believes Lamont Harris (5-10, 180) may be up to the task. "We feel Lamont could be in the same mold as Tony Kerr," he said.

Senior Ken Doll and junior Jeff Sommer are competing at quarterback for the Pioneers, who were 4-5-1 last season. Five starters return on defense, including linebackers Chadd Johnson, Tom Simmons and Burroughs, and linemen Bryan Thornton and Jason Meek.

Newbury Park--The Panthers suffered through one of the worst seasons in school history, posting a 0-8-1 record and tying for last in the league with Royal.

However, the Southern Section includes Newbury Park among its "teams to watch," because of senior quarterback Wayne Cook, son of Coach Ken Cook. A tremendous athlete, Cook completed just 89 of 210 passes last year but threw for 1,339 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Tackle John Merrill (6-3, 230) and center Brandt Kirk (5-11, 185) shore up the offensive line.

Royal--It may take first-year Coach Gene Uebelhardt more than one year to turn around the Highlanders, who were 1-7-2 last season. However, opponents may know they were in a game against Royal--nine starters weight more than 200 pounds.

Keeping up with the Jones'--brothers James and Jason Jones--may be challenging. Both are fast and will start at the receiver spots. The quarterback is Pat Ledesma.

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