HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREVIEW : VALLEY 4-A LEAGUE
COACH: Steve Landress, 1st year
LAST SEASON: 2-7 overall. Tied for fourth in Valley 4-A League, 1-3.
THE PLAYERS TO WATCH: Landress returns to his alma mater after five successful years at Manual Arts. Landress, who played linebacker for Cleveland in 1968, guided Manual Arts to the last two City 3-A titles. While he is low on returning players, he is high on enthusiasm. “I’m excited, the kids are excited,” Landress said. “It’s always difficult with a new system, but they’ve picked it up. This is a very spirited team.” Don Anderson, a 6-3, 245-pound transfer from Hawthorne High, is a “definite blue chipper,” according to Landress. He will start at left tackle. The offensive line should be the Cavaliers’ strength, with right tackle Sam Tukia (6-1, 260), guard Gary Yohn (5-10, 195) and Anderson. Norman Love (5-9, 160) will start at quarterback, while William Dixon (5-11, 175) and Albert Fann (6-1, 200) are battling to be tailback. Ricky Scalmaldo, a three-year varsity letterman, returns at fullback. Landress is counting on Brett Megan to handle the kicking chores. Megan, who plays on the Cleveland soccer team, has been kicking 45- to 50-yard field goals in practice, according to Landress.
OUTLOOK: “Everyone is picking us at the bottom of the league,” Landress said. “I think we’re going to surprise some people. If we’re at the bottom, than the other teams in the league must really be good. Cleveland football is on the rise.”
El Camino Real
COACH: Skip Giancanelli, 17th year
LAST SEASON: 3-5 overall; tied for fourth in Valley 4-A League, 1-3
THE PLAYERS TO WATCH: With the transfer of running back Kenny Durr to Canoga Park, Giancanelli has no returning starters at the skill positions. “It’s a rebuilding year, definitely,” Giancanelli said. “But we’ve got some really good kids, attitude-wise.” The quarterback will either be senior Pat Martin or sophomore Karl McFaddin. Martin (5-9, 160) did not play football last season after being a quarterback on the B team as a sophomore. “He has the quickness he didn’t have then,” Giancanelli said, “and he throws 100% better.” McFaddin (5-8, 145) is only 14, but the coach is expecting big things from him. Warren Butler will play fullback for El Camino, while Kevin Bilbee will see action at split receiver. Roy Schneider (6-3, 195) was a tight end and linebacker last season who may be moved to offensive tackle. Danny Aytim (5-8, 165) became a starter near the end of last season, and will return at outside linebacker and offensive guard. Marc Hartford was a starter at inside linebacker until injuring an ankle last season. “We can’t talk about a championship,” Giancanelli said. “It would really be a great achievement on the kids’ part if they pulled it off.”
OUTLOOK: “I have never had a team this young,” Giancanelli said. “Not only young, but inexperienced, especially at the skill positions.” The Conquistadores, who lost three league games by a total of 11 points last season, figure to battle Cleveland for the final playoff spot.
COACH: Darryl Stroh, 1st year
LAST SEASON: 6-4 overall; tied for first in Valley 4-A League, 3-1
THE PLAYERS TO WATCH: Stroh, who has won five City titles as Granada Hills’ baseball coach, hopes to bring his magic to the football field. He has brought along five starters from last season’s baseball team for his first varsity football campaign. Seniors Bob Allen and Scott Tosti, both baseball players, are among Stroh’s top four running backs. The other two are Mike Davis and Kahlid Ali, both juniors. Dean Yoshitani and Dan Takahashi, another pair from the baseball diamond, will both play wide receiver and defensive back. The Highlanders’ top receiver will be Greg Fowble, an All-City performer in both football and baseball. Fowble’s last-second field goal against Cleveland last season gave Granada Hills the league championship. The battle for quarterback is still going on. Brent Spurlin, who led Hart to the Foothill League championship last season, is competing with Carl Yergin to be the starter. “The two are pretty even right now,” Stroh said. Returning at nose guard is 6-2, 240-pound Barry Daniels. Tight end Marc Newman, a 6-2, 220-pound senior, will also return.
OUTLOOK: Granada Hills won three league games last year by a point. Will the good fortune continue? Stroh wouldn’t make a prediction, but did say: “I have never worked with a group of kids who have had a better attitude. These kids have given us everything we’ve wanted.” So far.
COACH: John Haynes, 14th year
LAST SEASON: 6-3 overall; tied for first in Valley 4-A League, 3-1.
THE PLAYERS TO WATCH: When last seen, Eric Evans was on the mound at Dodger Stadium, pitching in the City championship baseball game. The senior hopes to be throwing more bullets this fall as the Golden Cougars’ starting quarterback. “He has a strong arm,” Coach John Haynes said, “and he is very intelligent.” Evans will be bolstered by a strong offensive line led by Ara Derderian (6-3, 250). Derderian, a two-year starter at right tackle, is a leading candidate for All-City honors, his coach said. Junior Ron Simmons (6-2, 235) started in the playoffs and will return at center. Dion Lambert, who started four games at wide receiver as a sophomore, is back, while Brett Logan should be the other starting receiver. Roman Carter and Patrick Hardy will try to fill the gap left by the graduation of All-City running back Michael Pringle, who is now at Washington State. Despite having only three starters back on offense, Haynes is confident the team can move the ball both on the ground and in the air. Kennedy quarterbacks had problems throwing last year. “We have to emphasize other areas this year,” Haynes said. “Last year, we handed the ball to Pringle 25 to 30 times.”
OUTLOOK: Kennedy should again be in the race for the league championship, along with Granada Hills and San Fernando. “Because we’re inexperienced,” Haynes said, “a lot depends on how we improve over the next two weeks.”
COACH: Tom Hernandez, 4th year
LAST SEASON: 5-4 overall; third in the Valley 4-A League, 2-2.
THE PLAYERS TO WATCH: During one dismal stretch last season, San Fernando scored one offensive touchdown in three games. The Tigers then moved John Brazil from quarterback to running back and made Dwayne Calloway the signal caller. San Fernando scored 94 points in its next three games. Calloway (5-11, 175) is back for his senior season and will again direct San Fernando’s wishbone attack. Seniors Lance Harper (5-10, 170) and David Richards (6-1, 175) are back at halfback, while Terry Smith, a 6-0, 185-pound junior, will start at fullback. Three of the five starters from last season’s offensive line are back, including right tackle Oscar Ramos (6-0, 225), right guard Troy Knox (6-0, 225) and left guard Mario Winfrey (5-11, 220). Donny Oberlander (6-3, 230) will be the center. “We’re gonna be able to do a lot of things with the big guys up front,” Coach Tom Hernandez said. The defense will have six returning starters. Kevin Thomas (5-11, 170) and Ron McMillan (6-0, 185) are back at safety, while the biggest newcomer is Robert Pulido, a 6-6, 285-pound junior nose guard.
OUTLOOK: Almost all of the Valley 4-A League coaches put the Tigers at the top of the standings. Hernandez is cautiously optimistic. “We look like we’re way ahead of last year. But we’re still not a real good team.” That could easily change.
Football previews were compiled by Dave Desmond, Mike Hiserman, David Keck, Gary Klein, David Morgan, Jeanmarie Murphy, Derek Raser and Johannes Tesselaar.