From the high desert to the Oxnard plain, they're snapping on their chin straps and adjusting their tail-bone pads.
High school football players are gearing up for contact. They're ready to smash something, even if it's nothing more menacing than a banner held by cheerleaders during pregame introductions.
In teen-age nervous systems everywhere, expectations are revving higher than hormones. On the eve of the first kickoff of 1995, everybody can still chant "We're No. 1."
But if you want to know 10 things that absolutely, positively will happen this season, read on:
1 Brent Newcomb will startle the milkman.
Some coach will have to get up pretty early in the morning if he expects to outwork Brent Newcomb.
The unorthodox work schedule of the Antelope Valley coach has become high desert legend. During the season, Newcomb rises at 2 a.m., plops into his favorite easy chair to watch game film and gives the VCR a workout. And don't bother calling for him after nightfall. He's in bed by 8.
The early-to-rise system must work. In 17 seasons as coach, Newcomb has led Antelope Valley to a 131-76-1 record and three Southern Section titles. The Antelopes are the defending Division II champions after upsetting Hart last year, 36-15, and are expected to field another strong team in 1995.
Opposing coaches be forewarned: Better set your alarm clocks.
2 Touchdown Teddy will strike pay dirt.
Nearly everybody in the football-jazzed Santa Clarita Valley is talking about Ted Iacenda and his pursuit of the century mark. The Hart running back has a chance to become only the second player in California at the 11-man level to score 100 touchdowns. Bakersfield's Steve Wafford ended his career last fall with 107.
Also a target is Russell White's Southern Section-record 94 touchdowns, set from 1986 to '88 by the former Crespi (and current Green Bay Packer) running back. Iacenda last year scored an area single-season record 41 touchdowns and has 61 in his career.
But the 6-foot-1, 225-pound running back insists that his only goal this year is to win a Southern Section title. Asked to predict his '95 touchdown total, he remains true to his school.
"As many as it takes to win CIF," he said.
3 Price will be right.
Even if Iacenda reaches the century mark, Sylmar fans will be unmoved. They are convinced the Spartans have the best running back in the area. In nearly every preseason recruiting guide, Sylmar's Durell Price is mentioned as one of the best in the nation.
Price, a 6-1, 215-pound senior, last season rushed for 1,936 yards, scored 30 touchdowns and was the City Section 4-A player of the year. He nearly had a chance to meet Iacenda head-to-head this year, but negotiations
to schedule a game between the schools collapsed.
Too bad, says Iacenda.
"That would have been a huge game," Iacenda said. "It would have had two of the best running backs in the state."
4 Jenkins' dream will be an opponent's nightmare.
Iacenda and Price might be the premier backs this season, but no one has set his sights higher than Hueneme running back Ronney Jenkins.
Jenkins, a 5-11, 175-pound senior, is one of the area's top recruits. He also is the area's No. 1 long jumper with a best of 24 feet 1 inch. But toward the end of last track season, Jenkins already had his mind on football.
The soft-spoken, unassuming Jenkins broke character and made an outrageous prediction: 3,000 yards rushing.
That would more than double his output of last year, when he gained 1,316 yards. Then again, Camarillo \o7 is \f7 back on the schedule this season. A year ago, Jenkins set a school record against the Scorpions, rushing for 356 yards. Only nine more games like that and Jenkins could coast to 3,000.
5 Hunters will search for the first team.
Pity Canoga Park fans. Instead of watching the school's national championship cheerleading team during football games, they get stuck with the second string.
The national champions don't work the sidelines of the school's sporting events. The program's second unit, a more traditional cheerleading group, pulls that duty.
The elite unit is a coeducational group of highly athletic students which competes around the nation. The team also competes on campus--for athletes. Last year, four members of the basketball team passed up a playoff game to travel with the cheerleading team for a competition in Florida.
6 The city will play paper tiger.
The Taft-Sylmar game tonight is an opportunity to reflect on the City's record for meting out punishment. Taft just got off probation for illegal recruiting, and Sylmar is City probation champion.
The Spartans, who have won two of the past three City football titles, are on two years' probation for holding an illegal practice. That follows a one-season probation for a similar offense. They were almost booted from the playoffs last year when the City investigated charges the team used an illegal player, a transfer from Saugus.