Among Westside Los Angeles City high school football teams, some might qualify as powers this season and others might have to weather power outages.
The Dorsey High Dons, defending 4-A champion, have a good chance to repeat this year, keeping Carson and Banning from hogging the title the way they have the past 15 years.
Venice, which probably had its strongest team in school history last year, lost several key performers to graduation and is rebuilding.
Always-strong Westchester, led by former St. Monica High wide receiver-defensive back Albert Jones and returning quarterback Brad Freeman, should be a contender for the City 3-A title.
Palisades could improve on last year's .500 season, and Fairfax and University could bounce back from losing years, but Crenshaw, Hamilton and Hollywood might be in for hard times.
Crenshaw Cougars (Southern Pacific Conference, 4-A Pacific League, 8-4 last year)--Were have all the Cougars gone?
When it comes to offense, Crenshaw Coach Robert Garrett can only wonder. "Wow! We graduated everybody," Garrett said.
Maybe not the entire team, but the loss of six All-City players will certainly hurt. Garrett and Co-Coach Terrell Ray must find replacements at the quarterback, fullback, tailback and wide receiver positions.
Given these departures, it's not hard to figure out how this team hopes to win games. "The strength would be defense," Garrett said. The core of the defense is the linebackers, seniors Sean Lowery, Jesse Peterson and Daryl Loper, all three-year starters. Lowery was a first-team all-league selection last year.
On offense, the coaches are looking at Loper as a quarterback, along with junior Scott Fuller. Greg Jones will play tailback. The coaches are undecided on who will play fullback. Chrisshuann Williams, a 6-foot-3, 280-pound offensive guard is a returning second-team all-league selection. "He's pretty quick for a big guy," Garrett said.
Garrett's lament is that he has a constant shortage of players.
"We don't get any help from Pop Warner programs because we don't have any programs feeding our school," Garrett said. "That's always been the case. I've been head coach for two years, and we've played only 15 (players). All of our kids go both ways. Depth and inexperience are our weaknesses." The team will play one less game as Lynwood canceled the scheduled season opener. Crenshaw will be at Manual Arts at 3 p.m. Sept. 21.
Dorsey Dons (Southern Pacific Conference, 4-A Pacific League, 9-3)--Dorsey should be a top contender to repeat as City 4-A Division champion.
"We think we have as good a chance as anyone to win the championship," assistant coach Darryl Holmes said.
The Dons have a potent weapon in senior tailback Lamont Warren, who scored 19 touchdowns and was named the City 4-A Player of the Year in 1989.
But Warren will be without his partner in the backfield, quarterback Chris Cook, who graduated.
"That's going to be our question mark, trying to replace Chris," Holmes said. "We'll miss his leadership."
Senior Ron Peoples, who played wide receiver last year, and junior Damon Williams, the B-team quarterback, are competing for Cook's old position.
The defensive line will be anchored by tackles Carlos White (6-3, 250) and Parrish Jackson, (6-2, 230). Holmes said the secondary looks strong, aided by the unexpected return of Greg Burns. Burns, an all-league player as a defensive back last year, had moved to Texas but has returned. Renaldo Spaulding, Keshawn Johnson and Yulkion Frierfon should also be productive.
The Dons lack depth and must stay injury-free to contend, but their key concern will be the quarterback situation.
"We feel like if things go well with the quarterbacks, we should be one of the top three teams in the city," Holmes said.
Dorsey opens at Manual Arts on Friday at 3 p.m.
Fairfax Lions (Coastal Conference, 4-A Metro League, 3-6-1)--Here's a switch: A coach who says his concern this season is not how his team will play but how well it will be coached. That's the predicament in which Fairfax's Ron Price found himself when Co-Coach Earl Smith spent some practice time pursuing an administrative post outside the district.
In Smith's absence, Price relied heavily on volunteer assistants, which included a baseball coach, his quarterback's father and even his own sons to help coach the Lions.
"I'm not sure that does justice to the talent we have on hand," Price said. "They need consistent coaching. But I would say it's probably better than no coaching at all."
But Smith has returned, and Price has other reasons to be optimistic about the season.
"I think this could be a good year if everything falls into place," Price said. "I like our players, I like their enthusiasm. If we fall on our face, the coaches are to blame."
Price expected a more experienced team this year, but he could lose offensive guards Michael So because of academic ineligibility and Andrew Strum, whose knee surgery could sideline him for the season.