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scene in the Southland | Southern Section

Poly, Mater Dei Are Once Again Marquee Teams

September 07, 2000|GARY KLEIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Not much has changed in Southern Section Division I football the past few years.

The last three finals have looked the same: Long Beach Poly vs. Santa Ana Mater Dei.

Poly won in 1997, Mater Dei won in 1998 and the schools played to a 21-21 tie last season.

And guess who is favored to make it four in a row?

After last season's tie, the Southern Section revamped its rules so that tiebreakers will be played in championship games.

Once again, there are 13 division championships in 11-man football up for grabs.

Here is a look at 10 teams to watch:

1. LONG BEACH POLY (DIVISION I)

The Jackrabbits, under Coach Jerry Jaso, have lost only one game in three seasons.

Poly is regarded as one of the fastest and most talented teams in the nation--and many of the key players are juniors, including standout running back Hershel Dennis.

Linebacker Marvin Simmons, a transfer from Compton Dominguez, and tight end Marcedes Lewis are other standouts for a team that will probably finish the regular season unbeaten.

2. SANTA ANA MATER DEI (DIVISION I)

The Monarchs lost Matt Grootegoed, The Times' Glenn Davis Award winner, but Coach Bruce Rollinson has one of his biggest teams in years.

Quarterback Matt Leinart, receiver Jeff Diulio and running back/defensive back Darius Williams are the playmakers. The offensive line is young, but every starter weighs at least 275.

Mater Dei plays Concord De La Salle, winner of 100 consecutive games, Sept. 23 at Edison Field.

3. NEWHALL HART (DIVISION III)

Quarterback Kyle Matter, who passed for 3,774 yards and 48 touchdowns last season, leads the defending Division III-champion Indians, who have won 23 games in a row.

Running back Tim Gregory and tight end Evan Allen are other key players.

The Indians play perennial Division I power Loyola in Week 5.

4. LOYOLA (DIVISION I)

The Cubs lost to Los Alamitos in double overtime in the quarterfinals last season, but they have enough talent to return to the final for the first time since 1996.

Matt Ware, who has committed to UCLA, is regarded as perhaps the most versatile player in the Southland. He will play quarterback and safety for Loyola.

The Cubs open Saturday against San Francisco St. Ignatius.

5. RIALTO EISENHOWER (DIVISION I)

The Eagles have 12 starters back from a team that lost to Mater Dei, 28-21, in the semifinals.

Defensive lineman Atili Faalaulau is a top player for Coach Tom Hoak's team that will once again be challenged in the Citrus Belt League by Fontana, Redlands, Fontana A.B. Miller and Rialto, now coached by Don Markham.

6. LA PUENTE BISHOP AMAT (DIVISION I)

The Lancers will be back--with a vengeance--after losing their last five games and missing the playoffs last season for the first time in 20 years.

Quarterback Shane Russell, who led Bishop Amat to a 5-0 start before he was lost for the season because of injury, is back for his final season.

Second-year Coach Mike DiFiore sends his team against his alma mater when Bishop Amat travels to Concord De La Salle on Oct. 7.

7. HUNTINGTON BEACH EDISON (DIVISION I)

Senior running back Darryl Poston rushed for 1,701 yards and a school-record 29 touchdowns last season, drawing comparisons to Kerwin Bell, the standout running back who led Edison's 1979 championship team.

Poston gets help from quarterback Richard Schwartz, who passed for 1,933 and 15 touchdowns in 1999.

8. UPLAND (DIVISION II)

Last season's Division II runner-up is ranked No. 1 in the Southern Section preseason poll and with good reason.

Coach Tim Salter has a talented nucleus returning from a team that finished 12-2.

9. FOUNTAIN VALLEY (DIVISION I)

The Barons are ranked ninth in the Southern Section Division I poll. Bernard Fano and Mater Dei transfer Ed Fane give Fountain Valley two top linemen. Junior quarterback Casey Clark is in his second season as a starter.

10. CHINO HILLS AYALA (DIVISION II)

The Bulldogs lost to Palos Verdes Peninsula in the quarterfinals last season, but they are ranked second behind defending champion Upland in the section's preseason Division II poll.

Others: Santa Margarita, Fontana, Los Alamitos, Diamond Bar.

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