For the first time in four years, La Mirada is an underdog. According to a poll of coaches, Artesia is the favorite.
1. ARTESIA--Second-year Coach Vince La Rosa has 10 returning starters, including running back Victor Matos, wide receiver Dan Bugay and quarterback Brian Smith, from a team which tied La Mirada for the league title. Players from last year’s 10-0 JV team should fill the other spots. The Pioneers play one of the area’s most difficult pre-season schedules, opening with Valley Christian Friday night.
1. (tie) LA MIRADA--Despite not getting a vote of confidence from coaches, the Matadors will still battle Artesia for the title. Ray Mooshagian, beginning his 25th year as a head coach and sixth at La Mirada, says of the Suburban League: “We are right up there; Artesia is, for sure, and Norwalk could be a surprise.” Artesia and La Mirada open league play against each other Oct. 17. Times’ all-Southeast selection Robert Stephens (center/defense tackle) returns, as does junior quarterback Eric Brooks.
3. NORWALK--Six starters return for new Coach Phil Vala, who will continue to teach at Artesia, where he served for several years as an assistant football coach. Vala calls Artesia and La Mirada the class of the league. Very young offensive and defensive lines may be problems for the Lancers.
4. GLENN--"Don’t make us sound egotistical,” said new Coach Tom Lynn about the Eagles’ chances, “but we feel we will give people a run for their money.” Nine starters return off a team that went 5-5 a year ago. Top players returning include the Teo brothers--tailback Tautalaititi is a 5-9, 195-pound senior and Kenefi is a 5-8, 180-pound junior fullback. Quarterback Eddie Chacon also returns. Top newcomers include junior free safety Charlie Angel and senior tight end/defensive end Aaron Wood, both from the school’s championship 400-meter relay team. “We’re not conceding to La Mirada and Artesia,” said Lynn.”
5. BELLFLOWER--Former assistant Dave Brown replaces Clay O’Dell and may have a chance at the playoffs if he can direct a small group as well as O’Dell did. Only 50 players showed up for JV/varsity practice. Reggie Kennedy, who was selected to the Times’ all-Southeast and the all-Central Conference teams last season, returns at defensive back.
6. MAYFAIR--Athletic Director Leon Ward will direct the football team and has junked the run-and-shoot offense in favor of the pro-set. Among seniors returning are quarterback Bob Partin, who threw for 1,462 yards a year ago, and all-league, all-Central Conference wide receiver Allen Trent, who caught 62 passes for 834 yards but scored just once. “We’re working on attitude this year,” says Ward, who takes over a team that was 1-9 last season.