* BUENA (0-0) vs. WESTLAKE (0-0)
At Ventura High, 7:30 p.m.
Think this one is important? The teams went a combined 23-3 last season and won two league championships. Westlake, defending Southern Section Division IV champion, has few familiar faces. Only one starter--lineman Mark Manning--returns from an offense that averaged 39.1 points. Quarterback Cory Miles takes over for Zac Wasserman, now at Penn State. Ryan Foltz, one of the top players in the region, plays a key role at receiver and defensive back. Buena lost to Westlake in last year's opener, 42-27, but won 10 consecutive games. Freddy Keiaho has a shot at 2,000 rushing yards this season, especially with converted tight end Brandon Faumuina (6-foot-2, 220 pounds) playing fullback. Paul Johnsonbaugh takes over for Kyle Loughman at quarterback.
* CRESCENTA VALLEY (0-0) vs. THOUSAND OAKS (0-0)
At Thousand Oaks High, 7:30 p.m.
Thousand Oaks might have the best quarterback you've never heard of--Ben Olson, a 6-foot-5, 200-pound junior on his way to becoming the next great Marmonte League signal-caller. Mike Anderson, who plays receiver, defensive back and returns kicks, is a threat to score from anywhere on the field. The game marks the debut of Mike Sanders at Thousand Oaks, a former assistant coach under Bill Redell at St. Francis. Crescenta Valley defeated Thousand Oaks in last year's opener, 35-21. The Falcons, however, lost nine starters on offense from a year ago. Senior receiver Jason Hogan scored 12 touchdowns last year. Bobby Mena is the latest in a long line of standout linebackers at Crescenta Valley.
* VALENCIA (0-0) vs. HIGHLAND (0-0)
At Canyon High, 7 p.m.
The post-Manuel White era begins tonight for Valencia, which rode the record-setting running back to the Southern Section Division III final last season. Marc Stockland, a 6-foot senior, takes over at tailback after rushing for 46 yards as a junior. The Vikings have the top-rated defensive lineman in the state, Kaelen Jakes, and quarterback Kyle Bauer is much improved. Highland, defending Golden League champion, has a strong defense, led by linebackers Greg Root and Joshua Mejia, and defensive back Marcus Demps. All-Valley kicker Jose Duarte is almost automatic inside of 50 yards. This is the fourth consecutive season opener between these teams, with Valencia winning the last two. Highland is ranked eighth in the Division III poll. Valencia is ninth.
* TAFT (0-0) vs. BANNING (0-0)
At Banning High, 6:30 p.m.
Taft can match athletes with Banning, which beat the Toreadors in openers the last two years. But Banning, boasting one of the City's biggest lines, should have an advantage in the trenches led by center Mike Wilson. James Carter, Albert McCray and Sal Guerrero are the Banning running backs. Running back Lee Marks of Taft rushed for 1,404 yards last season and receivers Chris Morgan and Steve Smith give quarterback Ricky Clausen speedy targets. Banning's nonleague schedule is murderous: Long Beach Poly, Crenshaw, St. Paul and Mater Dei follow Taft.
* DORSEY (0-0) vs. SYLMAR (0-0)
At Sylmar High, 7:30 p.m.
Most of Dorsey's starters last season were seniors, but as Coach Jeff Engilman of Sylmar said: "They just retool. They have very large creatures. It will not be a finesse game by any means." Dorsey typically employs a run-based offense heavy on misdirection. Senior quarterback John Valdez gives Sylmar a legitimate passing attack. Receiver-defensive back Phil Samano is the most improved Spartan and linebacker-tight end Josh Martin should be all over the field. Sylmar might struggle to establish a running game. David Contreras, who rushed for 1,515 yards last season, graduated and his replacement, Donnell Livingston, will not be eligible until Sept. 22.
* CLEVELAND (0-0) vs. PALISADES (0-0)
At Palisades High, 7 p.m.
Points should be scored in abundance. Behind quarterback David Koral and receivers Charles Ealy, Jack Lazarus and Greig Carlson, Palisades has perhaps the City's most potent passing attack. Carlson is a transfer from Taft who had 55 catches for 1,050 yards last season. Cleveland, coming off a league title, will employ a running game keyed by tailback Matthew Clark, who averaged 10.2 yards per carry and rushed for 460 yards playing behind James Bethea last season. Cavalier linemen Victor Gomez and Andre Berkeley are among the best in the region. Defense is a question mark for both teams, although Cleveland's secondary is peppered with top athletes.
* SAN FERNANDO (0-0) vs. ALEMANY (0-0)
At Alemany High, 7:30 p.m.