Westside CIF-Southern Section football teams will encounter thorny problems this season, but coaches at the seven Westside schools are trying to persuade their players to look for roses instead.
St. Monica High, Culver City and St. Bernard will each move up a notch--perhaps several notches--in competition.
Beverly Hills and Daniel Murphy will try to overcome lackluster seasons last year and the difficulties associated with coaching changes.
Santa Monica will attempt to make up for the loss of last season's starting quarterback, Bob Aylsworth, who moved out of state.
In eight-man football, Brentwood, which won a Southern Section championship in 1988 but had a .500 record last season, has a wealth of quarterbacks and receivers but a poverty pocket on defense.
A look at the teams:
Beverly Hills (Bay League, 3-7 last season)--The Normans might have done better last year, but they had to forfeit three league games when co-head Coaches Bill Stansbury and Dick Billingsley joined other striking teachers on the picket lines. Stansbury and Billingsley left for jobs at other schools after the failure of a proposition to raise funds for the school district.
But there might not be a long transition period. The new coach is Carter Paysinger, a Beverly Hills alumnus and former football player who has been an assistant and part-time instructor at Beverly Hills since 1980. Among his assistants will be his brothers, Vonzie and Donald, who are also former Norman athletes. Vonzie and Donald have been assistants at the school for much of the 1980s.
"So far it's been a real smooth transition," Carter Paysinger said. But he added that "the potential for disaster is still there."
The quarterback will be junior Ziv Gottlieb, a defensive roverback and guard last season. Paysinger said Gottlieb "might be one of the best athletes we've had here since Robbie Countryman (a top athlete at the school several years ago)." He said Gottlieb, a good runner, will give the Normans the flexibility to switch from a pro set to a rollout or option offense.
Veterans on offense include running back Greg Holmes, wide receivers Darren Smith and David Saraf, tackle Tony Rosales (6-feet-2, 215 pounds), guard Felton Williams (6-0, 200), center-guard Arash Feydjou (6-1, 215) and fullback Brandon Woods. Also returning are linebackers Ed Ricketts, John Lee and Geoff Hutchinson.
Paysinger said he will platoon players as much as possible "so we'll have fresh guys on both sides of the ball. We'll also play more guys."
He said the Normans should be quicker than most opponents and will try to "force the action a little bit this year to create something. We'll try to dictate the tempo and style of offense we can run against other teams."
Beverly Hills will open the season Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Lompoc, which is led by standout running back Napolean Kaufman.
Brentwood (Delphic League, 5-5)--With three players who can pass well and three who can catch the ball, Brentwood Coach Pat Brown said: "We expect to throw the ball more than run this year. We want to put the ball in the air."
The passers are Craig Polin and Matt Stringfellow, who shared the quarterback job last season, and sophomore Jono Ohlgren, who started for the junior varsity. When not quarterbacking, they will probably play some at defensive back or linebacker.
The receivers are tight end Peter Sather (6-3, 200), wide receiver Marc Kuehbeck and junior slotback Brad Griffith.
Brown has switched from a power-I offense to a single-back set, and the single back most of the time will be returning starter Derrick Amey. Amey missed three games at running back with a hamstring injury last season. Brown said Amey is healthy and stronger and should be better this season.
The heart of the defense should be linebacker Eric Gronomeyer (6-5, 210), who will also play offensive guard, and linebacker Doug Buchalter, up from the junior varsity.
Brown said the Eagles should be strong on offense but will be inexperienced on defense. "On the defensive line, we just don't have size," he said. "There's not one guy who has played a down on the defensive line, except Amey for one game."
Brentwood will open at home against Big Pine on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
Culver City (Bay League, 5-4-1)--Culver City moves from the Ocean League, where it was competitive, to the Bay League, where the Centaurs might have to take their lumps.
Coach Lou Lichtl, however, is undaunted. He said he doesn't think that traditionally strong Bay League teams such as Hawthorne, Leuzinger or Santa Monica have "any better football players; they just have more of them."
"I think we can play with any of them," Lichtl said. "Injuries will be the key. If we can stay healthy, we should make it to the playoffs for the third year in a row."
However, other coaches in Lichtl's position might regret the loss of such top players as wide receiver-defensive back Greg Hooks, tailback John Haqq and quarterback-defensive back Troy Dunlap, who all graduated.