If the quarterback is one of the most important players on a high school football team, then why have the coaches in the Angelus League made Servite High the unanimous favorite to win the league title?
Every school in the six-team league returns an experienced quarterback except the Friars, who enter the 1985 season with Tim Rosenkranz at the helm. Last year, Rosenkranz completed a grand total of four passes for 53 yards as the backup to the league’s Most Valuable Player, Eric Buechele.
Rosenkranz’s statistics pale in comparison to returners Todd Marinovich of Mater Dei, Rick Carter of Bishop Amat or Eddie Nevarez of Pius X. All three threw for more than 1,600 yards.
But it seems the Friars’ winning tradition is enough to boost them into the favorites’ role. Opposing coaches point to Servite’s three-year record of 31-6-1, two Southern Section Big Five Conference championships and a junior class that has never lost a football game.
“Servite has the best quality, and more importantly, the continuity that should make them the favorites to win the league,” Mater Dei Coach Chuck Gallo said.
Said St. Paul’s first-year Coach Rick Ready: “Mater Dei and Bishop Amat have better athletes, but you can’t pick them over Servite. Servite has a great winning tradition.”
Even Servite Coach Leo Hand has a difficult time downplaying his team’s chances this season.
But the Friars will have to work hard to win their third straight title. Bishop Amat returns a talented backfield that includes Carter and speedy running backs Eric Bieniemy, Lee Barrett and Mark Simen. Marinovich, who could eventually break former Bishop Amat quarterback Pat Haden’s Southern Section career passing records, returns for his sophomore season 25 pounds heavier.
While Servite’s offense may not compare to some other teams in the league, the Friars’ defense, anchored by inside linebacker Ted Valmassei, will continue to be its strength. The Friars allowed only 8.8 points and 214 yards in total offense per game last year and will be equally tough this season.
Finally, if the Friars’ offense should sputter inside the 50-yard line, sophomore kicker Pat Ballottiaux will be whisked onto the field. He kicked a 49-yard field goal as a freshman and Hand predicts he will be kicking 60-yard field goals by his senior season.
The Friars are the favorites, but don’t look for Servite to waltz through the league with another undefeated record.
Here’s a closer look at the Angelus League:
BISHOP AMAT: Key Personnel--Rick Carter (6-1, 175), QB; Eric Bieniemy (5-10, 180), RB; Lee Barrett (5-11, 185), RB; Ramon Diaz (6-0, 195), LB; Jack Montes (6-3, 245), OT and Tony Galvan (5-11, 190), DT.
Top Newcomers--Mark Simen (5-10, 160), RB; Pat Patterson (6-4, 230), TE; Carlos Hernandez (5-11, 165), WR; Gary Dukes (6-0, 185), LB and Johnny Brown (5-11, 155), DB.
Outlook--Former Colton High veteran Coach Don Markham has replaced Jim Patricio as the Lancers’ coach. Markham spent last season as an assistant at Pierce College learning the passing game, but look for the Lancers to utilize the same type of offense Markham employed at Colton with a full-house backfield that emphasizes the running game and an eight-man front on defense that dares an opponent to pass. Markham said the wide receiver and offensive line positions are major question marks, but the defense is solid with all-league linebacker Diaz returning. The Lancers, who finished 8-3-1 last year including a 21-20 upset over Edison in the playoffs, will once again be the quickest team in the league.
BISHOP MONTGOMERY: Key Personnel--Pat Hunt (6-0, 225), C; David Koran (6-1, 205), OT; David Gomez (6-2, 260), OT; Todd Viter (6-1, 175), QB; Ken Sale (6-2, 225), LB and John Stangl (6-2, 210), NG.
Top Newcomers--Vince Calvillo (5-9, 160), QB.
Outlook--Coach Andy Szabatura has 20 lettermen returning, including 13 starters off a team that was 4-6 last year and 2-3 in league play. The Knights’ goal is to move up one position from fourth place to third and earn a playoff spot. Bishop Montgomery’s strength is on the offensive line, where all five starters return. The defense is anchored by Street & Smith All-American candidate Ken Sale. Szabatura is undecided on returning starter Viter or newcomer Calvillo as his starting quarterback.
MATER DEI: Key Personnel--Mike O’Connor (6-2, 220), LB; Mike Kelly (6-1, 200), LB; Tim Haider (5-8, 185), DB; Joe O’Hara (6-2, 200), LB; Joe Atkinson (5-10, 205), NG; Mike Motherway (6-3, 230), OT; Charles Anton (6-1, 205), RB; Paul Cardenas (5-10, 185), RB; Jim O’Brien (6-0, 180), WR; Todd Marinovich (6-4, 190), QB and Gary Coston (6-0, 175), K.
Top Newcomers--Matt Spence (6-0, 175), TE; Jim Keen (5-9, 165), RB; Paul DeBono (6-3, 230), OT; Noel Sikaffy (6-1, 230), OT; Robby Rayder (6-0, 210), OG; Tony Rocco (6-3, 200), TE; Mike Haynes (5-10, 190), DE; Steve Rivera (6-2, 185), LB; Bill Little (5-10, 160), DB; John Flores (5-10, 160), DB and John Stephens (6-1, 165), DB.
Outlook--The Monarchs developed into one of the most exciting teams in Orange County last year with pass-happy Gallo calling the plays and Marinovich executing them. The former Servite coach returned to the Angelus League and said very little had changed. “Nobody threw the ball, defense dominated and it was a quality league,” Gallo said. "(Marijon) Ancich was gone and Bishop Amat was smaller, but quicker.” Gallo said it took five or six games before his offense got going last year, but predicts a good start in ’85. He will carry nine sophomores on the varsity with Marinovich starting and Spence and Keen given good chances of earning regular spots before the season is over. Coston kicked eight consecutive field goals last year. Gallo said Haider is an all-county candidate.
PIUS X: Key Personnel--Eddie Nevarez (5-10, 170), QB; Feliberto Navarro (6-1, 223), C; Rory Ewing (6-4, 205), LB/TE; Cornel Sandoz (6-0, 173), WR/DB; Gabriel Navarro (5-11, 193), LB/OG; Terrence Lee (5-11, 162), DB/WR; David Box (5-11, 186), DT; Charles Criner (5-11, 193), FB and Jonathan Scott (6-2, 195), TE.
Top Newcomers--Marcus Campbell (6-0, 178), DB; Robert Adams (5-10, 157), DB; Darryl Norwood (5-10, 171), DB; Paul Pallan (5-10, 157), DE and Orlando Palomo (5-7, 151), K.
Outlook--The Warriors failed to win a league game last year but Coach Ken LaVigne said his team will surprise some people this season. Nevarez was a first-team, all-league selection with 1,677 yards passing and 62% completion percentage. Sandoz caught 33 passes for 435 yards and should be one of the top receivers in the league. Navarro, a tough hitter, anchors the defense at inside linebacker. The Warriors have more returning starters (14) than any team in the league, but the big question remains: Can Pius X shed its losing image?
ST. PAUL: Key Personnel--John Scott (6-2, 175), QB; Frank Mazzotta (6-0, 190), WR; Miguel Ramirez (6-1, 175), DB; Sean Kelly (6-0, 200), OG; Matt Willig (6-7, 210), OT; Scott Miramor (6-0, 205), OG; Rich Ruiz (5-11, 155), DB; Mondo Costell (5-11, 160), RB and David Zepeda (5-9, 165), RB.
Top Newcomers--Tom Riley (6-1, 205), LB and Scott Hutchings (6-0, 175), RB.
Outlook--Rick Ready, an assistant coach at Miami University (Ohio), replaces Jim Walker as the Swordsmen’s coach. Ready paints a bleak outlook for the season, saying, “To say we are rebuilding would be an understatement. We have no depth, no speed and are extremely small with only nine players over 200 pounds. We have no leadership in the athletic department and support from the administration is lacking. St. Paul, with the least amount of talent and fewest coaches on staff, should finish last in the Angelus League.” Translation: Ready is sandbagging. Scott is a proven quarterback, Willig is another in a long line of quality linemen from the Willig family and the Swordsmen have never finish last in the Angelus League.
SERVITE: Key Personnel--Jeff Fieldhouse (6-0, 170), WR; Brian Booker (6-0, 225), FB; Derek Noggle (5-11, 175), RB; Joe Burt (6-0, 210), C; Ted Valmassei (6-0, 215), LB; Jimmy Sanford (6-1, 180), LB; Al Ordonez (5-8, 165), DB; Jason Rolish (5-11, 155), DB and John Garcia (5-8, 165), DE.
Top Newcomers--Tim Rosenkranz (5-11, 165), QB; Brett Caya (6-0, 185), QB; Nick Haiduc (5-8, 160), WR; Bill Bergeon (5-11, 215), OT; Christian Galdibini (6-4, 225), DE; Brian Dorsey (6-2, 268), DT; Mike Hirou (5-11, 185), FS; Brett Valmassei (6-1, 195), LB and Pat Balottiaux (5-11, 170), K.
Outlook--Rosenkranz made the most of his four completions last year with three of them going for touchdowns. He threw a touchdown in every game he played. “He threw for more than 3,000 yards this summer and looked good,” Hand said. “He has had a year in the system, and I have complete confidence in him.” Fieldhouse was a first-team, all-league receiver with 29 receptions for 487 yards and 5 touchdowns. Booker has lowered his time in the 40-yard dash from 6.1 to 5.1. He gained 524 yards on 154 carries and scored 7 touchdowns as a junior. Bergeon holds a black belt in karate but Hand said the best athlete on the team is Hirou. Hand has seven new assistants on his staff this year, including defensive coordinator Ben Haley, Jr. and offensive coordinator Bobby Walker. The Friars have 75 players on the varsity roster compared to last year’s 41.
Tomorrow: The Century League.