Advertisement

LEAGUE PREVIEWS : SUNSET

Teams appear in order of finish predicted by Times staff writers. Chatsworth

COACH: Myron Gibford, eighth year

LAST SEASON: 8-3-1; first in league, 4-0-1

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Seniors Jim Jolicoeur (5-11, 180) and Kurt Moeller (6-0, 190) are the backbone of the team at inside linebacker. Gibford has been impressed with senior defensive end Jim Studnicka (5-10, 170), allowing him to move last year’s end, John Dunn (5-9, 165), to the secondary. “He’s a great hitter and will do the job for us.” He’ll be joined in the defensive backfield by senior Kendria Watson (6-0, 170), who also will play wide receiver. Chatsworth has plenty of experience on offense, too. Seniors Howard Blank (5-10, 200) and Andy Ouvrier (6-0, 190) will play next to each other on the right side of the offensive line, and seniors Patrick Clark (5-10, 180) and Spence Durham (5-10, 180) will run out of the backfield together. About the only place an underclassman can be found is at quarterback, where Bryan Addison (6-0, 170) has made the jump from backup B-team player to varsity starter. “He’s a good athlete,” Gibford said. “he could play a lot of positions for us. All he needs now is experience.”

Advertisement

OUTLOOK: “Most of the kids have played for us, and we should have a very solid defense,” Gibford said. “The key for us is how fast our offensive line and our secondary come together. We have two good kids at each spot, but I’m not sure how fast the others will come together.”

Taft

COACH: Tom Stevenson, second year

LAST SEASON: 6-3; third in league, 3-2

Advertisement

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Seven starters return from a defense that allowed only 120 yards a game last year, and three of those players rate Division I consideration, according to Stevenson. Inside linebacker Cornell Collier (6-3, 205), called a “pure hitter” by his coach, runs the 40 in 4.6. Kevin Wolfe (6-2, 195) plays beside Collier and also runs a 4.6 40. Defensive back Daryle Smith (6-2, 170), also runs the 40 in 4.6 is could plat at a major college, Stevenson said. Other key defenders are junior linebacker Jon Thompson (6-2, 185), and senior defensive backs Darren Finestone (5-10, 165) and O’Shun Pierre. If Stevenson can find some defensive linemen to join returner Mike Johnson (6-1, 195) up front, Taft may be even better defensively this year. Some of the same defensive players figure prominently in Taft’s veer offense. Wolfe rushed for 890 yards last year and is joined by Collier, who missed half of last season with a broken arm. “He’s superb and he’s a little faster than Kevin,” Stevenson said. Thompson and Finestone are battling for the quarterback job. “We’re going to rotate quarters with them,” Stevenson said. The few times Taft goes to the air, junior tight end Victor Villa figures to be the No. 1 receiver.

OUTLOOK: Taft has probably the best defense in the league and a potentially powerful running back combination in Wolfe and Collier. The offensive line is untested. Said Stevenson: “We have a good 1-2 punch, and if we get to the line of scrimmage, we’ll be successful.”

Birmingham

COACH: Alan Epstein, seventh year

Advertisement

LAST SEASON: 4-5; fifth in league, 1-4

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Birmingham should field its finest offense in years. Senior quarterback Kevin Zietz (5-11, 185), who passed for 1,109 yards and seven touchdowns last season, will be able to target several talented receivers and running backs. Jason Shaffer, who caught 26 passes last season, and Hasson Gay, who caught 18, are returning starters at receiver. Running back Mike Flores gained 831 yards and scored 12 touchdowns last season, but will be pushed by Vince Tolliver (6-2 185), a senior transfer from Antelope Valley. The Sunset League Class-B player of the year, Marcel Sellers, will play at running back and wide receiver. “He’s really quick,” Epstein said. “A real dynamo.” Zietz, who was an all-league running back as a sophomore, will direct a sprint-out passing attack. “Rolling out will give Kevin more time to throw,” Epstein said, “Our line is inexperienced.” Much will be expected of junior tackles Ross Vera (6-3, 225) and Steve Pratt (6-3, 220). Pratt is a returning starter. Flores, Tolliver and Sellers are also big names on Birmingham’s split-six defense. Senior defensive end Jeff Wilson is a returning starter.

OUTLOOK: Birmingham is very active in summer passing leagues. “The personnel we have this season at the skill positions made the summer very pleasurable,” Epstein said. “I can see us scoring a lot of points if we don’t get beat at the line of scrimmage.”

Canoga Park

Advertisement

COACH: Rudy Lugo, first year

LAST SEASON: 7-3; second in league, 4-1

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Canoga Park’s pro-slot offense will be directed by senior quarterback Jeff Myers, who passed for 416 yards and three touchdowns in three games last season. Myers will be protected by an experienced offensive line. “Although I am concerned about our depth at the skill positions,” Lugo said, “I’d say the line is the strength of our team.” Jeff Zentner (6-3, 230), Myron Pedroche (6-2, 200) and Dave Audelo (6-4, 250) should give Myers plenty of time to pick out receivers. Junior Mike Conover, who was all-league last season, returns at tailback and defensive back. He will also serve as kicker. “I’m expecting a lot of Mike,” Lugo said. “When he’s on, our offense will move the football.” Conover is not the only player who made all-league as a sophomore. Junior linebackers Brian Hoffman and Tak Odama, both returning all-league nominees, are keys to Canoga Park’s 5-2 defense along with nose guard Lamonte Simmons. A 5-11, 191-pound senior, Simmons is exceptionally quick. “In a 5-2, you need strong inside linebackers and a nose guard with quickness,” Lugo said. “Those happen to be our strengths.”

OUTLOOK: After serving as an assistant at Canoga Park since 1969, Lugo is calling the shots. “I am combining what I have learned from the six head coaches I’ve worked under at Canoga,” Lugo said. “Hopefully, the blend will results in wins.”

Advertisement

Monroe

COACH: Howard Reisbord and Frank

D’Alessandro, third year

LAST SEASON: 5-2-2; fourth in

Advertisement

league, 2-2-1

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Reisbord and D’Alessandro need lots of help if Monroe is to compete for the title this year. Only two starters return from last year. Senior Jim Josey (6-1, 250) starts his third year on the varsity and will play both center and defensive tackle. “I hate to do it, but I’m going to have to,” said Reisbord, who calls Josey a Division I player. Monroe’s other returning starter is running back Sean Roberts (6-0, 180), who rushed for 331 yards last year. Joining Roberts in the backfield is junior fullback Mike Bargerstock (5-9, 165), who also will play outside linebacker. The coaches have yet to choose between junior quarterback candidates Kesa Harding (6-1, 170) and Lance Chase (6-1, 165). “It’ll come down to who can move the team better,” Reisbord said. Senior flanker Harold Ciccone (5-7, 160) will carry the ball 5-10 times a game on reverses, Reisbord said. The offensive line has size in seniors Scott Hiddleman (5-11, 230) and Roderick Henry (6-0, 225) but has little experience. About the only defensive player Reisbord is sure about besides Josey is senior defensive back Eric Yee (5-10, 160). “He’s small but aggressive,” Reisbord said.

OUTLOOK: “We have four good teams in our league--Chatsworth, Canoga Park, Taft and Birmingham,” Reisbord said. “Then, it’s Van Nuys and us. Those teams are a little bit better than us, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think we can beat them.”

Van Nuys

Advertisement

COACH: Ken Lee and Kenji Mochizuki,

third year

LAST SEASON: 1-8; sixth in league, 0-5

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Junior Tom Oh typifies the Van Nuys team. He is 5-5, weighs all of 145 pounds--and is being asked to play the offensive line. “He should be playing on the B team,” Lee said. Unfortunately for the Wolves, too many members of this year’s team would be better suited for the B team. Only one starter returns on offense and none on the defense. Senior wide receiver Boni Bruno (5-7, 155) is the Wolves’ only veteran. Van Nuys will field juniors in the key backfield positions with Cesar Parrar (5-9, 160) at quarterback, Lou Vann (6-0, 175) and Mohammad Zaid (5-7, 160) as the running backs, and Fred Bryant (6-0, 180) at wide receiver. Bryant also will play in the secondary along with Bryan Galbreath, who has become a team leader, according to Lee. Senior nose guard Elias Martinez (5-8, 190) has impressed Lee in practice, and inside linebackers Louis Sanchez (5-9, 160) and Bernando Martinez (5-10, 180) are the best among the new players, Lee said. “They both can read well and they hustle,” Lee said. “As long as they can tackle, they can play for us.”

Advertisement

OUTLOOK: It doesn’t look good for the Wolves, who might be better suited for a 2-A league. Lee is pushing for the move but until then Lee has tempered his goals. “We’re trying to build confidence and give our players a better understanding of the game.”


Advertisement