Lee Pope doesn’t jump into his newest head-coaching gig blindly.
Having served as coach of the Crescenta Valley High girls’ golf team the past three years — which included splitting the Pacific League title last season — Pope learned the ropes of gathering a nucleus of talent and seeing positive results on the links.
Pope will try to achieve equal success as Crescenta Valley’s boys’ coach after taking over the program from John Pehar.
“The experience I have gained from coaching the girls’ team will help,” said Pope, who guided the girls’ team to a sixth-place finish at the CIF Southern Section Central Team Divisional en route to earning All-Area Coach of the Year honors. “A few things will be different coaching the boys’ team, but it shouldn’t be hard to adapt.
“We will have around 14 players and some of them are young. That’s OK. We are still learning and trying to develop the younger guys quickly.”
Crescenta Valley finished second in league last season before taking 16th at the Northern Team Divisional.
The Falcons will be led by seniors Adrian Chia and Tanner Bloks, junior Paul Park and sophomore Cody Renfro.
“Paul has been solid since the day he got here,” said Pope, who coached the junior varsity team the past three seasons. “You can count on him shooting in the 70s because he strikes the ball great.
“Adrian knows how to get the best out of his game. Cody came up to the varsity team last season and gained a lot of experience.”
St. Francis will begin a new chapter with its program under the direction of first-year coach Kyle Ostrom, who succeeds Jeff Durfee.
The Golden Knights will look to improve on their fifth-place finish in the Mission League last season. St. Francis will return the bulk of its starting lineup, including seniors Vince De Pinto and Eric Suarez and juniors Michael Finney, Johnny Brandt and Jack Tenney.
Ostrom, a St. Francis graduate, said he’s eager to see how the Golden Knights respond in some difficult nonleague matches before jumping into league.
“We are going to have some depth, which will be real nice because they will be challenging each other to get better,” Ostrom said. “They have some experience and have been working hard on their games.
“I expect us to be real good heading into league, which will be hard once again. I expect us to be in the thick of things and get back to the CIF playoffs.”
Flintridge Prep will return senior standout Jack Bouchard, who earned All-Area accolades last season after finishing second in the Prep League’s individual tournament for the third straight season. Bouchard was the lone Rebel to advance to the CIF Southern Section Northern Individual Regional.
Veteran Flintridge Prep Coach Bob Loughrie said Bouchard will likely be in good position to challenge for a league individual championship and move on to CIF.
“Jack is very talented,” Loughrie said. “I’d love to see him get even farther, but we don’t want to put pressure on him.
“I think there’s been some pressure on him because we don’t have a lot of low-handicap kids with him and he feels like he has to carry the team that much more. We have a bunch of kids who are learning to play and a lot of freshmen who are completely untested. That doesn’t make it bad. We just want them to relax and have a good time out there.”
Joining Bouchard will be senior Dylan Colliflower and freshman Jonah Sachs.
At Glendale, the Nitros appear to be building a nice stable of talent and depth. Glendale will feature a roster that will include sophomores Sammy Do and Eyna Alaan, juniors Kent Asano, Dong Yoo, Kevin Yi and Joon Song and freshman Russell Caletena.
Glendale Coach Anthony Mohr said the Nitros will look to harness their budding bumper crop of talent.
“Our top four are all pretty good,” Mohr said. “After that, we have a little bit of a drop off and will look to fill the holes where we need to. There’s a chance Russell can make the top six.”