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PREP EXTRA

20 Teams To Watch

September 11, 1997|GARY KLEIN

Here is a look at the top-rated Southern Section and City Section teams:

1. SANTA ANA MATER DEI

(Southern Section Division I)

* Last season: 14-0, defeated Loyola, 17-10, in Division I championship game.

* Coach: Bruce Rollinson

* Outlook: The Monarchs lost several talented players from last season's team that won USA Today's mythical national title. But six offensive and six defensive starters return for a school that never has a shortage of talent. Running back/defensive end Mike McNair, who had 1,222 yards and 19 touchdowns last season, will run behind an experienced line that features Joe Medlin, Scott Panique and Lenny Vandermade. Senior John Leonard is the new starting quarterback. Joey Boese leads a strong secondary and also plays wide receiver.

2. COMPTON DOMINGUEZ

(Southern Section Division II)

* Last season: 13-1, defeated Chino Hills Ayala, 42-16, in Division II championship game.

* Coach: Keith Donerson

* Outlook: Quarterback Jason Thomas rushed for five touchdowns in last year's championship game, after which he said, "This puts us on the map." With Thomas back, the road to the Division II title still runs through Dominguez. Receiver David Relf, running back Willie Hurst and cornerback Douglas Brumfield are only a few of the talented returning players for the Dons. Mark Oct. 10 on the calendar. That's when Dominguez plays Long Beach Poly.

3. LONG BEACH POLY

(Southern Section Division I)

* Last season: 9-4, lost to Mater Dei in Division I semifinals, 42-13.

* Coach: Jerry Jaso

* Outlook: Running back Herman Ho-Ching, quarterback Chris Lewis and wide receiver Kareem Kelly are catalysts for an offense that includes three returning starters on the offensive line. Defensive ends Tino Tuiaana and Ryan Iata are returning starters and cornerback Darrell Rideaux is a game-breaker.

4. LOYOLA

(Southern Section Division I)

* Last season: 12-2, lost to Mater Dei, 17-10, in Division I championship game.

* Coach: Steve Grady

* Outlook: Running backs Stephen Faulk and Wesley Willard will benefit from a big, experienced offensive line that will also protect quarterback Chris Peterson in his first season as the starter. Linebackers Derrigan Sheedy and Sloane Joseph lead the defense.

5. LA PUENTE BISHOP AMAT

(Southern Section Division I)

* Last season: 8-4, lost to Fontana, 31-28, in double overtime in Division I quarterfinals.

* Coach: Tom Salter

* Outlook: Senior quarterback Sean Koelle and defensive lineman Justin Hayward are expected to provide leadership for a young team trying to earn the school's second division championship in three years. Junior running backs Dennis Wyrick and Mike Wagner give the Lancers an outstanding 1-2 punch. Nose tackle Jonivan Valle anchors the defense.

6. FONTANA

(Southern Section Division I)

* Last season: 11-1-1, lost to Loyola, 16-13, in overtime in Division I semifinals.

* Coach: Dick Bruich

* Outlook: Andre Perry, who rushed for 1,117 yards last season and also plays defensive back, is the focal point of the offense. Running back Marquis Starks, wingback Cameron Spence and wide receiver/safety Tyrone Streeter also have big-play potential. Lineman Justin Brokaw and linebackers Brian Binks and Jason Dell are defensive standouts.

7. BELLFLOWER ST. JOHN BOSCO

(Southern Section Division I)

* Last season: 9-2-1, lost to Long Beach Poly in Division I semifinals.

* Coach: Jerry Person

* Outlook: The Braves will be tested early by opening against Eisenhower then travel to play Mater Dei in Week 2. Eight starters return on offense, including running back Eric Ayers, who gained 993 yards and scored 13 touchdowns, and receiver Jamaul Montgomery. Linebackers Shane Minton and Irvin Picott and lineman Jason Camilleri are the only returning defensive starters.

8. SANTA MARGARITA

(Southern Section Division V)

* Last season: 13-1, defeated Newport Harbor, 38-0, in Division V championship game.

* Coach: Jim Hartigan

* Outlook: The Eagles have several key players back from a team that outscored playoff opponents, 158-6. Carson Palmer, who passed for more than 2,300 yards and 24 touchdowns, is regarded as one the best quarterback prospects in the nation. Wide receiver John Minardi caught 42 passes and averaged 24.8 yards a catch. Nine starters return on defense, including linebacker Andrew Holstein and lineman Shaun Jackson.

9. CHINO HILLS AYALA

(Southern Section Division II)

* Last season: 11-3, lost to Dominguez, 42-16, in Division II championship game.

* Coach: Mark Pasquarella

* Outlook: Quarterback Mike Frost, running backs Matt Johnson and Antoine Cameron and wingback Brian White will lead the Bulldogs to a possible third consecutive appearance in a Southern Section championship game. The defense features linebacker Tom Coburn and defensive back Richie Long.

10. SHERMAN OAKS NOTRE DAME

(Southern Section Division III)

* Last season: 12-2, lost to Camarillo, 23-14, in Division III championship game.

* Coach: Kevin Rooney

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