Franklin High won the City Section 3-A Division championship last season for the fourth time in the 1980s.
The Panthers also won City titles in 1983, '86 and '87 under Coach Armando Gonzalez, now the offensive coordinator at East Los Angeles College.
"That's a hell of a legacy," says Ed Elias, who replaced Gonzalez. "I hope I can just keep it going."
Elias, 42, makes his debut Friday when Franklin travels to Roosevelt for its season opener. A UCLA graduate and a former assistant at Pasadena City and East L.A. colleges as well as Alhambra and Bell highs, Elias said there will not be a total overhaul of the offensive and defensive schemes.
"Things are more similar than different in Armando's philosophy and my own," Elias said. "We might call it orange where they called it red."
Opponents are likely to call Franklin good once again this season, even though the Panthers return only one starter from last season's championship team.
Junior Julio Moreno will start at quarterback, replacing Santiago Alvarez, the 3-A Player of the Year who passed for more than 4,000 yards last season and is now running Gonzalez's offense at East L.A.
The Panthers also lost wide receiver Lamar Lovett, the state's leading receiver who is now at Arizona. Fabian Picon, Mark Alacantara and Mario Abarea will be the wideouts this season with Anthony Aguilar starting at tight end.
The Panthers' strength might be their offensive line, which is young but big. Brian Duran (6-foot-3, 255 pounds) is the lone senior in a group that includes juniors Sal Alvarez (6-3, 225), Albert Aguirre (6-3, 220), Miguel Pena (6-1, 245) and Gilbert Lopez (5-10, 230).
The unit is expected to spark a running game that will feature George Gomez at fullback and John Flores at tailback.
"We don't have a Lovett or a Santiago but we might be just a little more balanced," Elias said.
Linebackers Andy and Tony Aguilar, the younger brothers of two-time All-City selection Jose Aguilar, anchor a Panther defense that features Hector Chavez, Luis Rosas and Art Gamez in the secondary.
Here is a look at other Glendale-area City Section teams:
Marshall (4-6): Entering his sixth season, Ken Gerard is the dean of City Section coaches in the Glendale area.
And Gerard will have to call on that experience if he hopes to make his team a contender.
The Barristers lost all 22 starters--including Times All-Glendale receiver Miguel Osorio--from a team that made the playoffs last season.
"We are a green team," Gerard said. "It's definitely a rebuilding year."
Gerard, who had been Marshall's offensive coordinator, will switch responsibilities this season with Phil Duran, who had coached the defense.
What Marshall lacks in experience it could make up for in sheer numbers. At a time when many schools are struggling to field teams of more than 40 players, the Barristers have 180 players in their football program.
Gerard will be coaching many of the players who helped the Marshall "B" team finish 8-1-1 last season.
"Unfortunately," Gerard said, "a lot of them could play another year of B's, they're so small."
Marshall suffered a setback in preseason workouts when Jose Rodriguez, an all-conference quarterback for the B team last season, went down with a knee injury. Junior Richard Gomez and senior Alan Panduallo are battling for the position and both will probably see playing time.
The nucleus of the team is likely to be a trio of players that will start both ways. Ricky Araujo (5-10, 170) will play tailback and defensive back. Mike Escodero (6-1, 200) will start at fullback and middle linebacker, and Oscar Bonilla (5-10, 200) will play tackle and defensive guard.
"It's the best group I've ever coached attitude-wise," said Gerard, whose team opens Friday against 1989 3-A runner-up Garfield. "It's just a real wait-and-see situation."
Eagle Rock (3-6): The Eagles have struggled in a Northeast League that features Franklin and L. A. Wilson, but third-year Coach Dennis Arnett believes this could be the season Eagle Rock gains a playoff bid.
"I think we can beat Franklin this year," Arnett said. "I think it's going to be between us and Wilson in the last game of league (play). Hopefully, that will be for the whole ball of wax."
To move into contention, Eagle Rock is going to need an outstanding season from senior tailback Arin Dunn, who gained more than 100 yards in several games last season and finished with 800 yards for the season.
"We're going to run," Arnett said, "but we're going to be a little bit more wide open on offense and occasionally go with a single back and several wide receivers."
Senior Robert Mancilla will figure prominently in all schemes as either a running back or wide receiver. Juniors Frank Chavez and Ruben Estrada will also be wideouts and Raul Estrada will start at tight end.
Eddie Espinosa, who has a strong arm, and Paul Engel, who is more mobile than Espinosa, will split time at quarterback and operate behind an offensive line that features Robert Hadley, Pierre Upshaw, Tom Meskin and Eric Lozano.