With 11 starters back from the team that won the Northwestern Conference championship last season, Canyon High of Canyon Country will begin the 1985 football season as The Times’ No. 1 team in the Valley area.
The Cowboys have won 24 games in a row, the longest prep streak in the state.
Defensively, two all-Southern Section selections, linebacker Randy Austin (6-3, 211 pounds) and nose guard Joe Zacharia (6-0, 203), will return. Returning on offense is quarterback John Watkins, who threw for more than 1,800 yards last season.
Canyon, which has won the last two Northwestern Conference titles, will be tested early in three preleague games against opponents also ranked in The Times’ Valley Top 10.
The Cowboys open against No. 2-ranked Hart Friday in a 7 p.m. game at College of the Canyons in Valencia. Canyons plays La Canada the following week before meeting 10th-ranked Thousand Oaks and eighth-ranked Notre Dame.
Seven Hart starters return to a team that went 8-2-1 and won the Foothill League title last season.
Charlie Drake, a 6-2, 230-pound senior, returns for his third season on Hart’s offensive line. He is considered one of the top college prospects in the Valley. At quarterback will be Jim Bonds, who threw for almost 1,700 yards on the Indians’ undefeated sophomore team last season.
San Fernando, which opens its season with the rest of the City Section schools next week, is The Times’ No. 3-ranked team.
The Tigers have one of the quickest backfields in the area, with Dwayne Calloway running the wishbone offense at quarterback and Lance Harper and David Richards as halfbacks. There are also three starters returning to the offensive line.
Rounding out the Top 10 are Kennedy, Alemany, Granada Hills, Westlake, Notre Dame, Burbank and Thousand Oaks.
Of those final six teams, only three--Kennedy, Granada Hills and Burbank--had winning records last season.
Alemany, which is ranked No. 5, was 3-7 last season, but 11 starters are returning, including one of the best passing tandems in the area: quarterback Sean Casey and receiver Travis Bargeman.
Westlake, ranked No. 7, was 2-8 last season, but 15 starters are back--including Gary Salvin, last season’s team MVP, and speedy Gary Wellman, who may be the fastest football player in the Valley. Wellman, a tailback, was the league’s sprint champion in track and has been timed at 4.36 in the 40-yard dash.
Eighth-ranked Notre Dame suffered through a 4-6 season in 1984, but with strong line play led by tight end/defensive end John Perak (6-6, 230), the Knights should contend for a playoff spot this season.
THE VALLEY TOP 10 Selected by sportswriters of The Times
Rank Team League 1984 1 Canyon Golden 14-0-0 2 Hart Foothill 8-2-1 3 San Fernando Valley 4-A 5-4-0 4 Kennedy Valley 4-A 6-3-0 5 Alemany Del Rey 3-7-0 6 Granada Hills Valley 4-A 6-4-0 7 Westlake Marmonte 2-8-0 8 Notre Dame Del Rey 4-6-0 9 Burbank Foothill 7-4-0 10 Thousand Oaks Marmonte 6-6-0