HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREVIEW : TRI-VALLEY LEAGUE
COACHES: Ralph Molina and Mike Vaccaro, 1st year
LAST SEASON: 0-10, overall. Sixth place in Tri-Valley League, 0-5
THE PLAYERS TO WATCH: Bishop Diego has skipped the downhill road and plummeted right off a cliff since winning the league championship in 1982. The Cardinals haven’t won a game since. Molina and Vaccaro, who took over for the departed Bob Peters, want to make a good showing in their first year. They just may have the tools to do it. The Cardinals have nine returning players, led by Charles Foulding (6-1, 250) at offensive tackle, Ray Vasquez (6-0, 185) at inside linebacker and Richard Cervantez (5-11, 180) at wide receiver and free safety. Two new faces that have impressed the co-coaches are seniors Tim Konkol (6-1, 190), who will double at tailback and inside linebacker, and Scott Kolp (5-11, 190), who will play offensive guard and outside linebacker. Much of the problem for the last two seasons has been the lack of players. The team had only 21 players last season, compared to this season’s roster of 46. Molina and Vaccaro want to develop a solid running game--something that has been missing for the last two seasons. They expect Moorpark and Santa Ynez to be the league’s strongest competitors.
OUTLOOK: “We’re going to have a much improved running game,” Molina said. “We’ve got some good size and good speed. We should have a pretty good year.”
COACH: Lou Panizzon, 11th year
LAST SEASON: 6-5 overall. Tied for third place in Tri-Valley League, 3-2
THE PLAYERS TO WATCH: Carpinteria just may be the team that could upset the balance of power in the Tri-Valley League. In addition to 13 returning lettermen, Panizzon said there is a horde of new talent that can’t wait to take a shot at Moorpark, Santa Ynez and St. Bonaventure. The returners are led by all-league offensive tackle John Charbonneau (6-1, 260). The returning quarterback, Rubin Zertuche (5-11, 165), spent most of last year calling running plays. Panizzon said the senior has been throwing the ball well over the summer and that a strong aerial attack could be the key to beating the stronger teams this season. At the other end of the passes will be varsity newcomer Ray Martinez (5-9, 150). Panizzon said that the junior has good speed and runs the routes well. Another new face to watch will be junior tailback Chris Ames (5-9, 155). On defense, watch inside linebacker Mitch Ruiz (5-10, 185), who has a shot at an all-league selection if he plays up to potential. But with the enthusiasm from the new faces comes a weakness: experience--or the lack of it. More than half of the Warriors starting lineup will be juniors and Panizzon admits that the season hinges on how fast they can learn to compete with opposing varsity players.
OUTLOOK: Said Panizzon: “We’ve been disappointed the last few years. We’re used to winning. But I think this group of kids can do it for us. If we can balance our offense by throwing the ball more, we’re going to be a good football team. We have the people that can throw it and the people that can catch it.”
COACH: Bob Noel, 2nd year
LAST SEASON: 5-5-1 overall. Tied for third place in Tri-Valley League, 3-2
THE PLAYERS TO WATCH: Moorpark made it to the Southern Section playoffs for the first time in the school’s history last season. Noel expects this year’s team to do at least that well. The Musketeers lost only four players to graduation and will return this season with 12 lettermen, including all-League center Howard Alexander (5-11, 190), all-league tailback Willie Gutierrez (5-10, 170) and all-league linebacker Georgie Loza (5-8, 160). With six linebackers for Noel to choose from and a seasoned secondary, the defense will be the Musketeers’ strongest asset. The offensive backfield will be mostly unchanged from last year with Tim Rothanzl (5-9, 160) at quarterback, Loza at fullback and Gutierrez at tailback. At tight end will be newcomer Ernie Fernandez (5-10, 180), who Noel hopes will round out the Musketeers’ offensive attack. Noel’s main worry is the offensive line, which, except for Alexander, lacks experience.
OUTLOOK: “We’re counting on our skilled kids--our backfield,” Noel said. “Our defense is quick and they like to hit people. We have a good chance to win the league.”
COACH: Mark Jacobs, 2nd year.
LAST SEASON: 4-6 overall. Fifth place in Tri-Valley League, 1-4.
THE PLAYERS TO WATCH: Oak Park, with a limited roster, almost pulled off some stunning upsets last season. The Eagles lost a close one, 17-14, to league co-champion St. Bonaventure, and lost 7-3 to Agoura. Agoura went on to become the Desert-Mountain League champions. This year may not be much different. Jacobs has a roster of only 25, with 10 returning lettermen. Most of those returners will be on defense, led by linebacker Wally Sweeterman (6-1, 205), defensive back Darrell Hall (6-0, 170) and linebacker Steve Frame (6-1, 165). The Eagles’ offense will be led by junior quarterback Jason Ornstein (5-9, 150). He didn’t see much playing time last season, but Jacobs wants a strong passing attack and is confident that Ornstein will be able to lead it. Behind Ornstein is running back Karl Affholter (5-9, 170). A big problem affecting the team will be depth. A number of players will be playing both ways and injuries could be a factor. But if the Eagles stay healthy, they could pull off some major upsets.
OUTLOOK: “My outlook for the season is very positive,” Jacobs said. “We have a lot of good kids with a lot of enthusiasm.”
COACH: Richard McBride, 8th year
LAST SEASON: 6-5 overall. Co-champion of Tri-Valley League, 4-1.
THE PLAYERS TO WATCH: With a solid nucleus of returning players, Santa Ynez will be in strong contention to repeat a Tri-Valley League championship. After sharing the honor with St. Bonaventure last season, the Pirates were edged by Chaminade in the first round of the Southern Section playoffs. A number of the same players are back--15 to be exact--and McBride expects the same results, with the possible exception of losing in the playoffs. The Pirates are led by two all-league players: defensive back Ari Petersen (5-9, 165) and outside linebacker Bob Jensen (5-8, 160). Also returning is placekicker Bill Hawk (6-0, 180), who last year kicked a school record 47-yard field goal against Oak Park. New varsity players include linebacker/fullback Chris Prendergast (6-0, 180) and tailback Chris Linane (5-6, 150). McBride said Linane has good balance and expects both players to provide a strong offensive backfield. The Pirate’s only shortcoming may be their passing game. McBride said it is improving, but still more work is needed on execution.
OUTLOOK: “We’ve got some good kids in the right positions playing for us,” McBride said. “We’re improving every day. We’re going to be real contenders.”
COACH: Paul Spinner, 3rd year
LAST SEASON: 9-3 overall. Co-champion of Tri Valley League, 4-1.
THE PLAYERS TO WATCH: The Seraphs have 18 returning starters--the most of any team in the league. After tying for the championship last season, St. Bonaventure beat Cathedral, 17-6, in the first round of the Southern Section playoffs, but were beaten badly by Miraleste in the second round, 51-6. Spinner expects his 1985 team to be at least as strong as last season’s. The defense is his biggest strength, with all-league inside linebacker Ron Kirkpatrick (6-0, 180) and all-league defensive end Mike Walsh (6-1, 175). Defensive tackle Bill Robeson (6-2, 215), who Spinner said has gotten stronger over the summer, could be an another all-league candidate this year. Another defensive standout is cornerback Chris Dykes (5-9, 160). The line is the Seraphs’ biggest offensive asset, with returning guard Steve Lee (5-9, 165) and returning tackle Niles Rasmussen (6-0, 180) leading. Behind the line, Spinner has two quarterbacks to choose from. Senior Larry Gonzalez, (6-0, 190) didn’t play last year, but Spinner said he has a strong arm. Junior Mike Harrison (5-9, 150) doesn’t have a strong arm, but has been precise in short pass plays and is a good runner. Spinner hasn’t picked a starter yet. Neither quarterback has much playing experience between them, and that could be St. Bonaventure’s only weakness.
OUTLOOK: “There are three teams (Moorpark, Santa Ynez and Carpinteria) that are real strong this year,” Spinner said. "(The way we finish) depends on how fast those kids on offense come around. The kids can play, they just need experience. Hopefully we’ll be one of the top-three teams.”
Football previews were compiled by Dave Desmond, Mike Hiserman, David Keck, Gary Klein, David Morgan, Jeanmarie Murphy, Derek Raser and Johannes Tesselaar.