Football: Curtain rises on a new season

Having gone through two-a-days and preseason camp over the past two weeks, it's now time for four local prep football teams to make their debut this week when the 2014 high school season goes into high gear.

Huntington Beach, Fountain Valley, Marina and Brethren Christian each play opening games, with Huntington and Fountain Valley going up against out-of-state opponents.

A fifth local team, Edison, which started its season last week in Hawaii, plays its second game and home opener Friday.

Thursday's game

Coronado (Nev.) vs. Huntington Beach

(at Huntington Beach High, 7 p.m.)

Nearly 10 months after winning the CIF Southern Section Southwest Division championship, Huntington Beach breaks in a new season by hosting Coronado of Henderson, Nev.

The Oilers return eight starters from that title-winning team, four on each side of the ball. They will be led on offense by senior quarterback Chad James who assumes the starting role in 2014.

Returning with honors are running backs Travis Heer and Hunter Simmons, defensive ends Hojun Lee and Liam Jimmons, and strong safety Brayden McRae.

"I think we are as prepared as we can be for such an early game, and for not knowing a lot about our opponent," Huntington Coach Eric Lo said. "We've seen film on them, and from what I've seen, they have a really good quarterback who can run the ball really well and he has some good receivers to throw to."

Coronado is coming off a 4-6 season, three of its losses coming by a touchdown or less, including a five-point loss in a first-round playoff game. The Cougars fielded a young team in 2013 and virtually return their entire lineup. They run a fast-paced spread offense and use a 3-4 scheme defensively.

Heading the offense is last year's starter at quarterback, senior John Farella. His key receiver from a year ago, senior Tanner Gorski, also is back.

Gorski was the Cougars' leading receiver as a junior and was named first-team All-Sunrise Division. Senior offensive tackle Josh Jurgensen also was a first-team all-division pick last year.

Senior end Justin Belknap, a first-team all-division pick last year, and senior end/outside linebacker Myles Holland were two of the Cougars' leading tacklers last year and, along with first-team all-division members in senior lineman Jackson Taylor, junior inside linebacker Aaron Cotton and senior cornerback Caleb Evans, return to anchor the defense.

The Cougars won two passing tournaments during the summer including the UNLV 7 on 7 passing tournament in June.

Friday's games

Compton Centennial vs. Edison (1-0)

(7 p.m., Huntington Beach High)

Having opened its season in Hawaii Saturday, Edison has a short week to prepare for its home opener against Centennial. It is the season opener for the visiting Apaches.

The Chargers returned home Monday from the island of Maui and had only three days to prepare for game No. 2.

"It's a short turnaround for us, but we will be ready," said Edison Coach Dave White, whose team passed its opening test, 49-10, against Baldwin.

"They (Centennial) usually had a couple of players who are really good. Like our first game (Baldwin), we don't know too much about them. They are playing their first game and they have a new coach."

Centennial enters the season with Coach Jonathan Kenyon, who takes over a team that went 1-9 last year and dropped its final eight games.

Edison played at Centennial last year and took a 27-18 victory.

Fountain Valley vs. South Plantation, Fla.

(at Walt Disney World of Sports Complex)

The Barons packed up and departed Tuesday for Florida, site of their season opener. Coach Ray Fenton said his team is ready for the challenge of playing South Plantation.

"I feel very good about us heading into our opener," he said. "Our kids have worked hard to this point and we're looking forward to this trip."

Fountain Valley went 7-4 and reached the CIF playoffs last fall in Fenton's first year. The Barons return 10 starters from that squad and will implement the pistol offense this year.

Among the returning players are all-Sunset league selections in senior wide receiver Ryan Finley and senior lineman Cole Chambers on offense, and senior linebacker Stone Escobedo, senior inside linebacker Hunter Margain and senior back Sal Ochoa on defense.

Fenton said that Friday's opponent, South Plantation, is a bit of a mystery.

"We don't know a whole lot about them," he said. "The film I've seen on them, though, shows that they look really fast, 'Florida fast,' as they say. Their quarterback returns and they have a couple of skill guys back, as well. This should be a good test for us."

South Plantation also is launching its season Friday. Among the top players for the Paladins is senior safety Rodrick Archer, a Florida Atlantic commit, senior quarterback Mike Mele and sophomore defensive tackle Kevin Oliver.

The Paladins, a team that's part of District 11-8A in the state of Florida, went 6-3 last year.

The Fountain Valley-South Plantation game is part of the KSA Football Series high school game package. Games will be played at the Walt Disney Wide World of Sports Complex starting Wednesday through Sunday .

"I feel really good about us heading into our opener," Fenton said. "We've had a good preseason camp and I feel that we're ready to play some football.

"Going to Florida to play our opener should be an exciting experience for our kids."

Aliso Niguel vs. Marina

(at Westminster High, 7 p.m.)

Marina begins anew and gets the Jeff Turley era underway when it hosts Aliso Niguel.

Turley takes over as head coach with nine returning players from a 1-9 team. The Vikings have three senior all-Sunset League performers in running back/free safety Steve Hernandez, receiver/outside linebacker Josh Gordon and tight end/outside linebacker Jacob Lopez.

Friday also marks the season opener for Aliso Niguel. The Wolverines, 3-7 a year ago, return three all-Sea View League players: junior quarterback/cornerback Nick Chapman, senior quarterback/receiver/strong safety Remy Wasserback, and junior tight end/defensive end Alec Stewart.

Brethren Christian at Riverside Prep

(at Riverside Prep High, 7 p.m.)

A trip to Oro Grande to begin the season awaits Brethren Christian.

The Warriors enter 2014 with four returning starters from a team that went 8-3 last year. Three of those starters, senior running back Andrew Assaf, senior wide receiver/defensive end Guy Demazeliere, and junior offensive lineman Robby Swanson, were all-Academy League last year.

After a 2-1 start in 2013, Riverside Prep lost its final seven games and finished the year 2-8. Four of their losses came by shutout, and the Silver Knights surrendered more than 50 points in each of their final four games.

Twitter: @MikeSciacca

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