COACH: Doug Woodlief, 1st year
LAST SEASON: 2-8 overall; fourth in Santa Fe League, 2-3
THE PLAYERS TO WATCH: Woodlief is counting on two-time all-league performer Fernando Gauna (5-9, 170 pounds) to spark the Guards this season. He will play receiver and free safety. Senior tailback Petar Vucurevic didn’t play football until last season, but Woodlief has high hopes for the Yugoslavian native, who will also punt and place kick. He had field goals of 42 and 47 yards last season. Junior quarterback Keith Fitzgerald led the junior varsity to a 9-1 record last season. Four players return to the Guards’ offensive line: center Paul Augustine (6-0, 205), tackle Matt Grace (6-1, 185), Jacob De La Roza (5-9, 205) and Tony Antonelli (6-3, 180). On the defensive line will be returning all-league tackle Mike Nelson (5-10, 210). The defensive secondary will be depended upon to take up slack left by inexperienced linebackers. The deep backs are Ed Romero, Nick Pavecic, Paul Perkins and Stuart Amrhein. Pavecic and Amrhein will double as running backs in the Guards’ offensive backfield. Woodlief believes that depth in the secondary will be the Guards’ strength.
OUTLOOK: “Our secondary looks very good but we are very young at linebacker.” Woodlief said. “We play in a very tough league so our older guys are going to have to play hard and hopefully the younger guys will follow through.”
COACH: Dave Lucker, 9th year
LAST SEASON: 4-6 overall; sixth in Santa Fe League, 0-5
THE PLAYERS TO WATCH: All-league center and nose guard Ceasar Chavez is likely to be the Eagles’ mainstay this season. The 5-11, 220-pound senior has good speed for his size and is one of the stronger players on the team. Lucker has handed the quarterback responsibilities to junior Edgar Espinosa. Said Lucker: “It’s his first year on varsity but he does have a good arm. I know he lacks experience as a quarterback but we’ll be counting on him to lead a balanced scoring attack.” The other side of the balancing act belongs to senior Alex Oyarbite (5-11, 175). The running back was the team’s leading ground gainer last season. Senior Pat Chee, a converted receiver, will fill out the pro-set backfield. Both Oyarbite and Chee are returning starters. Although Pater Noster has struggled on defense for several years, Lucker is confident that this season will mark the start of something big defensively. The entire defensive backfield returns this season, led by safety Mario Gutierrez (5-11, 160), a senior with good speed and strength. Said Lucker: “He has a nose for the ball. He just seems to end up wherever the ball does. He’s also a pretty decent wide receiver.”
OUTLOOK: “I’m very optimistic about this team,” Lucker said. “We only have 22 players, which means a lot of the guys will be going both ways. I feel that the juniors will come through in support of the seniors. Numbers or not, we’ll be very competitive. The team has a good attitude.”
COACH: Bob Fish, 3rd year
LAST SEASON: 6-4 overall; second in Santa Fe League, 4-1
THE PLAYERS TO WATCH: Coach Bob Fish thinks he has the ultimate all-purpose player in senior Eric Chapa. Chapa was named to the All-Southern Section team as a kicker. He also punts and returns punts and kickoffs. Also an all-league wide receiver, Chapa was Cathedral’s leading pass catcher. Chapa’s foot played a major role in five victories last season. Senior Charlie Godinez, who started three games last season, will call signals for Cathedral this season. Godinez has a strong arm and playoff experience. James Armenta and Daniel Lorenzo will join Chapa in the receiving corps. Graduation decimated the offensive backfield ranks, but Fish is counting on seniors Richard Cardona, Joachin Arias, and Warren Corrales to carry the ball when Godinez isn’t throwing. The coach is also impressed with sophomore running back Chuck Engel and another senior, Tony Renteria. Fish also boasts of a powerful defensive line, consisting of senior Martin Durazo (6-0, 205), senior Enrique Mendoza (6-0, 190) and sophomore Joe Silva (5-10, 235).
OUTLOOK: “Our kicking game will be in capable hands with Chapa. He can hit from 35 and 40 yards. Our goal is to be competitive,” Fish said. “Our defense will certainly be tested because we lost nine defensive starters. We might win one or two games in preseason and league. We also may be the spoilers in the league.”
COACH: Lindon Crow, 10th year
LAST SEASON: 8-4 overall; champion of Santa Fe League, 5-0
THE PLAYERS TO WATCH: Crow is depending on all-league quarterback Andy Sherman, who is coming off elbow surgery, to lead the Valiants’ offensive attack. The 6-1, 185-pound senior will have to adjust to a one-back offensive backfield after working out of the I last season. “We’re probably going to throw a little more this season,” Crow said. “Sherman had surgery but I think his arm is stronger than ever.” Senior Jeff De La Cruz will be the sole ball carrier in the backfield. De La Cruz was selected first team all-league as a fullback last season. Carlos Mendoza (6-0, 220), a guard, is one of three returning all-league offensive linemen. Crow is expecting solid pass protection from all-league defensive back Steve Escobar. Escobar was also the Valiants’ top receiver last season, and on a team with only 32 players look for him to be the team’s leader. Senior defensive back Brendan O’Connor is slated to lead the 4-3 defense that the Valiants have used for the last nine seasons. “We lost most of our defensive players to graduation,” Crow said. “So, defensively, it will be a rebuilding year.”
OUTLOOK: “We have as good a chance as anybody to win the league,” Crow said. “We’re not as deep as I would like to be. . . . I pray everyday that nobody gets hurt. We already have a few players in casts as it is. We have a very strong offensive line but we don’t have a lot of experience. If we get hurt, we’re going to be in trouble.”
COACH: John Finn, 1st year
LAST SEASON: 3-5-1 overall; fifth in Santa Fe League, 1-4
THE PLAYERS TO WATCH: Finn, who put the Nobles through their first spring practice in five years, is nervous but excited about this season’s team. It will be led by junior quarterback Renato Velasquez. Said Finn: “He doesn’t have great speed and only a fair arm, but he’s very intelligent. The main thing about Velasquez is that he doesn’t make too many mistakes.” Velasquez will take the ball from center Roosevelt Larks (5-10, 215). Larks will lead the blocking for running back Ken Hooper. Also running out of Murphy’s backfield will be senior Milton Wilson. Finn calls Wilson “a major-college prospect” with the speed and strength to turn the big play for the Nobles. “He’s 6-2, 225 and he runs a 4.7 40,” Finn said. “A very big boy.” Wilson was big enough and strong enough to garner all-league honors on offense and defense last season, at fullback and defensive tackle. Look for defensive backs Ken Sackett and Maurice Sallave to spark the defensive secondary.
OUTLOOK: “This is a year of testing for the kids,” said Finn. “We have only 26 players on this team, but they have been working very hard and they look really good. This team also has a good attitude that they developed over the summer. We’ll probably finish at the bottom of the league with Pater Noster.”
COACH: Rich Montanio, 3rd year
LAST SEASON: 6-6 overall; third in Santa Fe League, 3-2.
THE PLAYERS TO WATCH: “We’ve got just a ton of returning people,” Montanio said. “We hardly graduated anybody.” With that in mind, the Eagles will attempt to win their fourth league title in seven years. Two quarterbacks are currently vying to start. “We’ll just keep shuffling QBs until one of them dominates,” Montanio said. Senior Jim Chrissman (5-11, 165) throws the short pass well out of the Eagles’ power-I formation, while fellow senior Pablo Suarez will throw long. Normally a running team, Chaminade this year has excellent receivers. Sharp routes, good speed, and great hands have been attributed to senior wide receivers Rob Clarke and John Sundae. If there’s a small lineman lost amid a bulky defense, don’t be fooled. It’s all-league nose guard Gary Boudreau. Although the senior is only 5-9 and 185 pounds, he is one of the fastest and strongest players on the team. Also returning is Mike Carnevale. The senior defensive back missed three games because of an injury last season, but he still led the team with five interceptions.
OUTLOOK: “I think we should challenge St. Genevieve for the title and I’d like to think we’ll be in the playoffs,” Montanio said. “We’re definitely going to have to score more points than we did last year. Our defense is always tough.”
Football previews were compiled by Dave Desmond, Mike Hiserman, David Keck, Gary Klein, David Morgan, Jeanmarie Murphy, Derek Raser and Johannes Tesselaar.