Ken Gerard ought to be encouraged.
After all, it's not every year that a high school football coach welcomes back to campus most of the players who composed a league championship team the previous season.
Gerard, however, isn't overwhelmed by quantity. Not when the only three players gone from last season's Marshall High team are:
* Quarterback Sid Oxford, the City Section's leading passer.
* Running back Tony Gibson, an All-City running back.
* Tackle George Watson, an all-league lineman.
That trio formed the heart and soul of a Marshall team that finished 6-5 overall, won the Northeast League championship with a 5-2 record and lost to Gardena in the playoffs.
"We have a lot of kids returning, but no stars at any position," said Gerard, whose team opens Friday against Garfield. "I can't tell if they'll be able to take up that slack.
"We're going from a quarterback (Oxford) who was 6-foot-4 to one who is 5-7."
Carlos Gutierrez, a senior, will replace Oxford. Romell Carter, a 5-11, 185 pound senior who started at cornerback last season, replaces Gibson at tailback.
Key returning players include fullback Aki Kim and wide receiver Miguel Osorio. They are two of the nine players that will go both ways for the Barristers this season.
"It's hard to tell what kind of team we're going to be," Gerard said. "The first-team offense can't scrimmage against anybody defensively and it's the same the other way around. So we'll find out quite a bit on Friday."
Getting tough: Jim Beckenhauer, the football coach at Crescenta Valley High, apparently found much to his liking last Friday as his team defeated rival La Canada, 12-7.
The Falcons' inspired play and victory caused Beckenhauer to re-evaluate his team's chances for contending for the Pacific League championship.
"I'm starting to wonder now," Beckenhauer said of his players. "They're playing better than I anticipated, but it's not like they were lucky.
"They're no power, that's for sure. They're going to take their lumps but I think they gained respect."
The Falcons, who compete in Division II of the Southern Section, will need all the confidence they can muster Friday night when they take on Los Altos, the defending Division IV champion.
Last season, Crescenta Valley lost to the Conquerors, 13-3.
"We hung with them and battled pretty well," Beckenhauer said. "I told the players it's a lot like the game we played last week.
"Los Altos is loaded, again, and an exceptional football team."
Impressive debut: Eric Kiesau's play during Glendale High's 19-10 loss to Alhambra last Thursday may have ended the Dynamiters' search for a starting quarterback.
Kiesau, a junior, completed 18 of 34 passes for 192 yards. He used 10 different receivers and threw no interceptions.
Kiesau and senior Robert Kulp had been battling for the position during the preseason. Kiesau, however, will start on Friday against La Canada.
"He (Kiesau) basically has to lose his position," Glendale Coach Don Shoemaker said. "If he performs the way he did last week, I won't sub."
For openers: An inexperienced Occidental College men's water polo team opens its season Saturday against Cal Poly San Luis Obisbo. Tom Schmidt, in his fifth year as coach of the Tigers, has seven freshmen on his 14 player roster.
Senior John Reinecke, who was a second-team All-Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference selection last season, and junior Scott Holdsworth are the team's top returning players. Reinecke and Holdsworth are both All-American swimmers.
"We're inexperienced," Schmidt said, "but we're playing a schedule that should make us competitive in conference."
Occidental, which finished 15-9 overall, 7-3 in the conference play last season, already has scrimmaged UC Santa Barbara and Cal State Los Angeles. The Tigers hope to challenge 10-time defending champion Claremont in conference and qualify for the Western Water Polo Assn. postseason tournament.
The 14-team WWPA is composed of Division II and Division III schools. The winner of the WWPA 8-team tournament will for the first time receive a bid to the NCAA Division I finals.
Local leader: Ed Lund, a former catcher at St. Francis High School, has been named captain of the University of Notre Dame baseball team for the 1989 season.
Lund, a senior, batted .328 with four home runs and 48 runs batted in last season for the Fighting Irish, who won the Midwest Collegiate Conference and advanced to the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. West II regional at Fresno.