It’s easy to understand Bill Workman’s dislike of preseason polls.
Two years ago, his Edison High School football team was ranked No. 1 in Orange County. No big deal, Workman thought. But then the Chargers were ranked third in the nation by USA Today and really started to get cocky.
So what happened to Edison? The Chargers stumbled to a 4-4-2 record and failing, for only the second time in Workman’s 12 seasons, to earn a Big Five Conference playoff berth.
Predictably, when Workman was informed that his team had been chosen the county’s No. 1 team in The Times’ 1985 preseason poll, he asked, “What fools voted us No. 1?”
Here’s a look at The Times’ 1985 Orange County preseason Top Ten:
1. Edison: Workman points out that he has only one returning defensive starter. He also notes that returning right tackle Randy Goens will miss at least four games with stretched knee ligaments.
But it also is difficult to ignore the fact that Edison has the principal offensive players returning from a team that finished 8-3, with its three losses coming by a total of three points.
The key returners include:
- Quarterback Mike Angelovic, who completed 19 of 34 passes for 252 yards and 2 touchdowns in two games as a junior. “He is one of the top five quarterbacks in the county,” Workman said. “He reminds me a lot of Rick Bashore (former UCLA starter) with his running ability. He’s completed 68% of his passes on every level he’s played for us.”
- Wide receiver Rick Justice, who caught 44 passes for 902 yards and averaged 20.5 yards per reception. Workman is still wondering how the third-year starter was overlooked for the All-Southern Section team. Justice will also start at cornerback.
- Tight end Ken Griggs, an all-league selection with 4.65 speed in the 40-yard dash. Griggs is the team’s leading college prospect.
If that’s not enough, Workman has one of the county’s best underclassmen in sophomore tailback Kaleaph Carter, who gained 1,948 yards on the freshman team last season.
“It’s exciting to think what he’ll be like by his senior year,” Workman said.
With all these weapons, Workman is still downplaying the top ranking.
“A No. 1 team should at least have some returning defensive players and we don’t,” he said.
2. El Modena: Coach Bob Lester was conspicuously absent from school on Tuesday, only three days before his team is scheduled to meet powerful Edison in its opening game.
“He’s sick of looking at our secondary,” said Glenn Lukenbill, Vanguard line coach. The one-liners are usually reserved for Lester, who enters his 20th season at El Modena with two consecutive Southern Conference titles.
Lester may be suffering from the flu, but the rest of the Vanguards are healthy and appear ready to defend their conference title. Tackle Don Gibson (6-foot 3-inches, 255 pounds) and guard Allen Ennis (6-1, 220)--are the team’s strength.
Junior Ross Bauer is a durable running back who is capable of carrying the ball 20 to 25 times a game. He is the third Bauer brother to start at El Modena, following older brothers Randy and Rick.
Chris Gallego replaces graduated Brett Johnson (Arizona State) at quarterback. Gallego drew rave reviews in the West Coast Passing School at Saddleback College last summer, but has never played in a varsity game.
“I’m sure he’ll be one of the most nervous kids on the field Friday night against Edison,” Lukenbill said. “He started on the baseball team (third base), but that’s a little different than football.”
3. Servite: For someone who claims he had only been to Orange County twice before he got the job at Servite High, Coach Leo Hand made himself right at home last season in his first season at the Anaheim parochial school.
The former St. Anthony coach led the Friars to another Angelus League title and continued the school’s tradition of excellent defense by allowing an average of 8.8 points per game. The tradition should continue in 1985.
Brothers Ted and Brett Valmassei anchor a solid defensive unit that also features returning cornerbacks Al Ordonez and Jason Rolish. The big question mark is the offensive line and quarterback position.
Tim Rosenkranz, who one can hardly consider a veteran with a grand total of 53 yards passing last season, is the heir apparent to graduated Eric Buechele, the 1984 league most valuable player. Rosenkranz made the most of his four pass completions last season as three were for touchdowns.
But Rosenkranz may be scrambling more than passing in the Friars’ league opener on Friday night against Colton with the left side of the line out of action. Tackle Bill Bergeon strained ligaments in his hand and guard Rick Kielb is still recuperating from mononucleosis.
“Our passing game is actually ahead of last year, but how we do depends on how much protection our offensive line gives Tim,” Hand said.
4. Valencia: Sometime next month, probably in the Tigers’ opening league game against Savanna, tailback Ray Pallares will slip behind the block of guard Joel Garten for a gain to establish himself as the county’s all-time career rusher.
Pallares, who begins his third season as the Tigers’ tailback, has amassed 3,312 yards rushing and needs 852 yards to surpass former Santa Ana Valley star Myron White (4,164 yards) as the county’s leading rusher.
But Pallares would likely trade the record for just one shot at the Central Conference title. He has come close, reaching the semifinals in his sophomore and junior seasons before Valencia lost to Sunny Hills and Fullerton, respectively.
However, this could be the season Valencia wins the title. Coach Mike Marrujo has a massive offensive line, anchored by Garten (6-3, 235) and tackles Xavier Hicks (6-1, 235) and Mark Williams (6-5, 250). Defensively, hard-hitting linebacker Robert Rangel (6-0, 205) is a standout.
The offense isn’t limited to Pallares, either. New quarterback Jeff Martinez gives Marrujo an added passing dimension that has been lacking in key games.
“We played Valencia this summer in a passing league game, and that quarterback is going to make them twice as tough as last year,” Sunny Hills Coach Tim Devaney said.
Bill Brown, Brea-Olinda coach, has suggested that Valencia belongs in the Big Five Conference. That notion seems a little far-fetched, but don’t be surprised if the Tigers go undefeated in the regular season. Valencia has a weak nonleague schedule and is a prohibitive favorite to win its third straight Orange League title.
5. Foothill: A not-so-funny thing happened to the Knights on their way to another confrontation against rival El Modena for the Southern Conference championship. They were upset by Mission Viejo in the quarterfinals.
The Knights have had almost a year to think about the overtime loss. Don’t look
for it to happen again.
For openers, the Knights are stronger defensively this season, particularly in the secondary. Safety Chris Cutliff returns with a year of experience. The strength of the team will be at linebacker where Tom Quinn (6-2, 225) and Barry Walshe (5-10, 195) make up the best pair in the county.
“I think our strength early is on defense,” said Mullen, who has compiled a 43-7-2 record in his first four years at Foothill. “There isn’t a better pair of linebackers around.”
Offensively, Mater Dei transfer Chris Fergus, a junior, replaces Jud Dutrisac at quarterback. Another junior, tailback John Fishbeck, joins Fergus in the backfield. Fishbeck gained more than 1,000 yards and scored 12 touchdowns last season.
Mullen lost his entire starting offensive line, but the replacements will come from a sophomore team that was 9-1.
6. Mission Viejo: In a word association game, mention Mission Viejo and you likely get this answer: swimming. That could all change this year as the Speedo capital of the world is about to discover football.
Mission Viejo, the town that spawned Brian Goodell, Shirley Babashoff and Sippy Woodhead, would like to introduce you to running back Todd Yert, quarterback Brendan Murphy and tackle Ben Morgon.
The Diablos made an impact last year by upsetting Foothill in the Southern Conference playoffs and advancing to the semifinals despite having only 14 seniors on the team. But all along, everyone associated with the program kept saying, “Wait until next year.”
Thirteen starters, including nine offensive players, return and the addition of El Toro transfer Darrin Sweazy should give Coach Bill Crow a potent backfield. Sweazy is still awaiting an eligibility ruling from the Southern Section office.
“I’ve been here since 1968 and this is the most experienced team we’ve ever had,” Crow said. “I only hope we gain a little more consistency this year, because we were a peak and valley team last year. We went from very good to very average from week to week.”
Yert, a 6-1, 212-pound senior, should be one of the top backs in the county. He is a punishing runner with good moves and is also a fine receiver.
7. Fountain Valley: Do the Barons have a good football team?
Lineman Lance Zeno is the county’s premier player, perhaps the state’s best lineman and rated among the country’s Top 25 by USA Today. Enough said.
Still, it’s difficult to imagine the Barons matching the quality players they had at the skilled positions last season.
Three-year starting tailback Dave Swigart and wide receiver Carl Harry, both Times’ all-county selections, have graduated and quarterback Eric Zeno transferred to La Quinta. But quarterback John Peart, who earned his job the hard way by leading a second-half comeback against rival Edison in Anaheim Stadium, returns along with bruising fullback Terry Reichert, the starting catcher on the Barons’ Southern Section 4-A championship baseball team.
Milner received a big setback when Swigart’s replacement, Tom Vrab, underwent knee surgery and won’t return until league play. But an offensive line that averages 235 pounds should help out.
The Barons had better be good. They are playing four of the county’s top 10 teams in addition to perennial power Long Beach Poly, ranked No. 1 in The Times’ Southern Section poll.
8. Newport Harbor: Sailor Coach Mike Giddings is smiling these days. His painful, arthritic, bone-spurred hip joints, which required him to take as many as 12 aspirins at one time, have been removed and replaced with artificial ones.
But above all, the former pro football coach has the luxury of having the top quarterback in the county returning. Last year, Shane Foley became the school’s career passing leader with more than 2,300 yards passing--in one year.
Foley will be throwing to some big targets this fall in split end Mark Craig (6-6, 196) and tight end Kevin McClelland (6-2, 226). Craig was the most valuable player on the sophomore team.
Up front, guards Jason Nedelman (6-2, 210) and Scott Craig (6-4, 241) should provide Foley with all the protection he needs. Placekicker Sterling Coberly made 11 field goals last year.
“We’re big, but we’re not very fast,” Giddings said. “We’re not as ready to open the season as my past teams. But eventually, this could be one of my better teams.”
9. Pacifica: Bill Craven, 10-year veteran coach, said he has the best group of individual talent he has ever assembled at Pacifica. But he quickly adds that his biggest concern is a lack of leadership and unity among those talented individuals.
“You can see it in practice,” Craven said. “You get to know the personalities of the kids real quick. I’m not sure if we have the character to be a championship team.”
But Craven is certain that he’s got some fine talent. Tackles Jason Brusuelas (6-1, 245) and Robert Joubert (6-2, 230), linebacker-fullback Bill Hardesty (6-1, 190) and defensive end Chris Hartman (6-3, 195) are all quality players. Joubert can already boast that he’s one of a “few good men.” He enlisted in the Marine Corps, and reports in July.
Craven said the key to the team’s success will be receiver-turned-quarterback Scott Pettit. “He could make us into a real good team,” he said. “Or . . . “
The Mariners figure to be strong defensively and an eighth trip to the post-season playoffs in the past 10 years is almost assured.
10. Mater Dei: It’s rare that a freshman can step into the starting quarterback position and lead a football team to a berth into the Big Five Conference playoffs. But that’s just what Todd Marinovich did last season for the Monarchs.
Marinovich passed for 2,019 yards to help launch Chuck Gallo’s heralded passing attack in the defense-oriented Angelus League. Gallo is promising that his team will take to the airways even more in 1985.
“I like the idea of everybody playing Big Ten football in the Angelus League except us,” Gallo said. “We’ll throw whether we’re ahead or behind.”
Marinovich, the self-proclaimed “test-tube jock,” has been rigorously trained by his father, Rams conditioning Coach Marv Marinovich, since he was a youngster. He has had his share of publicity and recently was filmed for an upcoming special by a cable television company.
Gallo has another young team this year with nine sophomores on the varsity, but if the offensive line can give Marinovich enough time to throw, the Monarchs should improve on last year’s 6-4 record.
Others to Watch: Marina, Esperanza, Capistrano Valley, La Quinta and Santa Ana.