1. Bell Gardens--The Lancers (10-2 in ’84) have won 17 straight league games and have been to the playoffs seven straight years. Only four starters return but they are of high quality. Offensive tackle Anderson Maae is strong, quick, agile and huge (6-2, 290) and was all-league last year. Quarterback Javier Fimbres (6-0, 190) threw for 1,509 yards and 15 TDs and Roy Amos (5-10, 160) was one of the area’s top receivers (42 catches in two years) and defensive backs. Amos, who has 4.6 speed, has been moved to tailback by Coach Dave Newell. The other returning starter is Joel Andujo (5-9, 160), an aggressive strong safety who starred on a defense that had six shutouts. As usual, the Lancers will have talented newcomers and, as usual, they are favored to finish first.
2. Whittier--A big team. On the offensive line are tackles Troy Madsen (6-4, 250) and Matt Volkoff (6-1, 255) and guards Mike Morales (6-1, 270) and Peter Volkoff (6-1, 255). They’ll open holes for senior fullback Rene Barton, who gained 1,250 yards last year. Whittier’s problem during a 6-5 season in ’84 was that nobody could catch passes. The frustrated quarterback, Gene Nelson, said he could so Coach Gene Zeller moved him to wide receiver. New quarterback Andy Emch, a 6-4 junior, will throw to Nelson and tight end Paul Ayala, who has sure hands and the ability to get open. “I feel pretty good about the team,” said Zeller, although he worries about a lack of depth and speed and a pre-season schedule that includes Poly and St. Paul.
3. La Serna--The Lancers got pushed around (2-8) last year, so Coach Ron Moncrief pushed a strength program during the off-season, which put 20 pounds of muscle on most of his players. For example, Ed Burrus, an offensive tackle, is up to 280 pounds from 260, and guard-linebacker Dave Strohman went from 170 to 200. Now, Moncrief says, he can challenge Bell Gardens. Most of the starters are back, including quarterback Jeff Failla. The player to watch is sophomore tailback Robbie Watkins, a strong 6-1, 190-pounder who scored 23 touchdowns on the freshmen team.
4 . Montebello--Tired of finishing 5-5 two seasons in a row, Coach Doug Rihn expects to break away from mediocrity with a strong running game, led by quarterback Frank Rodriguez, who finished strong in ’84. Fullback Alfie Lopez (5-9, 170) is a tough inside runner and tailback Carlos Contreras (5-10, 165) is a sprinter. “We tried to do too many things last year and never got real good at any of them,” Rihn said. This year the Oilers are concentrating only on the plays that work.
5. El Rancho--The Dons lost all their defensive players and all-league offensive tackle Gilbert Garcia but Coach Don Peterson is depending on some good athletes to make them a contender. The offense will proceed cautiously with Mike Perea, an inexperienced junior quarterback, but the running is solid with seniors Robert Garcia and Francisco Barillas. The best defensive player is tackle Mike Rivera (5-9, 200).
6. Pioneer--Second-year Coach Tony Gonzalez, who is rebuilding the program, is happy because (a) he has 17 starters back, (b) everyone on the offensive line weighs 200 pounds or more and (c) quarterback Mario Hernandez has recovered from a sore shoulder. Gilbert Lopez and Louie Alarcon are competing for the tailback job. The fullback is senior Mark Serna.
7. California--John Hennigan, who was at Long Beach City College last season, takes over the Condors and takes on the challenge of turning around a team that was 1-9 a year ago. Hennigan is high on his defensive secondary, led by free safety Dan Martinez and cornerback Mike Torrez. On offense, quarterback Paul Fernandez can pass and fullback Sam Tonikian can run. Hennigan considers Bill Tolmachoff, a 6-2, 195-pound guard-linebacker, a fine prospect.
8. Santa Fe--The Chiefs lack chiefs--only seven starters return from last year’s 3-7 team. Coach Ed Lishok says they will have a strong passing attack with quarterback Joe Naranjo, a JV last year, throwing to Roman Lozano, a speedy 6-2, 180-pound senior, and Mike Saenz (5-6, 140), who led the team in receiving last year as a sophomore. Top defensive players are safety Eric Mattson and end Bill Williams.