COACH: Rick Scott, 3rd season
LAST SEASON: 6-5; 2nd in league, 5-2
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Buena has a strong offensive line with tackles Steve Sawyer (6-foot-3, 260 pounds) and Phil Kurta (6-2, 220), center Greg Lyle (6-1, 195), and guards Pat Kelly (5-11, 225) and Brent Tingle (5-9, 175). Juniors Duane Hurst (6-1, 205) and Kevin Moran (6-1, 200), and senior transfer Tim Burtin (6-2, 250) will add depth to the offensive line. Dan Bradley (5-10, 185) and Chuck Mullany (5-11, 180) are returning starters at linebacker. Linebacker Steve Ledesma (6-2, 180) has recovered from knee surgery and is expected to provide defensive help. Rodney Carmona (6-2, 240), sidelined because of a broken arm last season, will start at defensive tackle. Eric Eads (5-10, 165), who filled in for injured Tony Williams at tailback last season, will start. Mullany, Bradley, and Matt Kemsley (6-1, 200) will share the running back position. Mike Dexter (6-1, 180), Jim Seguine (5-10, 175), and Matt Ertman (6-0, 145) are fighting for the starting quarterback job.
OUTLOOK: Scott concedes that his team is a year away from contending for the league title. Buena's traditionally strong passing game might take a back seat to a new-found running game, led by its strong offensive line. "Hopefully, our linemen can beat up on some people and let us run it a little bit more than usual," Scott said. Buena's defense isn't big. "But hopefully we're more mobile and active," Scott said.
COACH: George Machado, 5th season
LAST SEASON: 0-10; 8th in league, 0-7
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Hueneme will abandon the run-and-shoot in favor of a veer offense, and junior quarterback Rex Barrios (5-7, 140), a running back in '89, will be in charge. "He's not big, but he's fairly quick and a real competitor," Machado said. Terry Zolley (6-0, 170), academically ineligible last season, will play fullback. "The rest of the positions are wide open," Machado said. Robert Harris (6-0, 225) will start at either right guard or tackle. "He's strong as an ox, and a good leader," Machado said. Ysidro Jimenez (6-2, 205) will return as the starting center. The defense will be led by Harris at nose guard, Barrios at outside linebacker, Sal Franco (5-11 195) at middle linebacker, and Adam Anaya (5-8, 145) at safety.
OUTLOOK: Machado says Hueneme is "in a talent lull." The Vikings have lost 13 consecutive games and are 4-16 the past two seasons. Yet Machado remains optimistic because of a strong sophomore class. "It's like we're in a horse race and we're riding a mule," he said. "It's a nice mule, and the mule works really hard, but the horses pull away. We just want to make sure that the mule doesn't quit."
COACH: Jack Davis, 32nd season
LAST SEASON: 7-3; 4th in league, 4-3
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Tailback Kenyon Lewis (6-2, 190) could be the finest back in the league. He runs the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds and was mentioned among Super Prep magazine's Far West players to watch. Junior Dan Duchai (5-10, 160) will join Lewis in the backfield and Larry Bumpus (5-10, 165), only a sophomore, will start at quarterback. Tight end Brooke Johnson (6-0, 185) is one of only three returning offensive starters, along with Lewis and junior guard John Smith (6-1, 215).
OUTLOOK: Oxnard must replace most of last year's 7-3 team, including an explosive offense led by quarterback Johnel Turner and fullback Bryant Taylor. "We have a lot of holes, but I don't think we'll be a real \o7 bad \f7 team," Davis said. Davis will use Lewis as much as possible. "Our offense will be pitch-it-to-Lewis," he said. Oxnard will not be helped by its nonleague schedule, which pits the Yellowjackets against Marmonte League favorites Westlake, Camarillo and Channel Islands. "That's just a killer schedule," Davis said. "We could play real good and still lose a bunch of games." Oxnard has six home games, however. Said Davis: "At least we don't have to take that long bus ride home after we get beat."
COACH: John Reardon, 23rd season
LAST SEASON: 4-6; Tied for 6th in league, 2-5
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Sal Balsano (5-9, 180), who rushed for 500 yards as a tailback last season, has been moved to fullback in the Spartans' option offense. Balsano makes room for tailback Gordy Abellera (5-8, 160). "(Abellera) is the first true tailback we've had in about seven years," Reardon said. Angel Lopez (5-8, 155), who played sparingly a year ago, is being pushed for the starting quarterback position by junior Andy Contreras (5-10, 170). Senior Jamie Liddel (5-8, 160), a starting split end last year, will move to safety and might start both ways. Junior Swanson Nunnery (5-10, 160) will provide depth at running back. Offensive tackle Matt McHale (6-2, 210) is the lone returning lineman. Reardon says tight end-linebacker Sam Garcia (6-1, 205) is Rio Mesa's best player. Frank Tinoco (6-2, 200) started at defensive end last season but might move to inside linebacker.