Pierce College 7:30 p.m.
Under John Hazelton, Montclair Prep became an Inland Conference power. But he is gone, and tonight marks the head coaching debut of Pat Blackburn, who was an assistant last year at Alemany. Blackburn says he isn’t concerned with St. Genevieve. “I’m more concerned with us,” he said. The Mounties enter the season ranked No. 1 in the Inland Conference. St. Genevieve is ranked No. 10 in the Desert-Mountain Conference and defeated Montclair Prep, 19-14, last season. This season, however, the Mounties will have a distinct size advantage. Ron Walker (6-2, 285) and Chad Pascua (6-4, 275) will hold down Montclair Prep’s offensive and defensive lines.
Harvard vs. Alemany
Alemany 7:30 p.m.
Alemany Coach Enrique Lopez and Harvard Coach Gary Thran agree that the game could come down to one play. “We can’t make any mistakes at all,” Lopez said. “We are going to have to play our best game.” Said Thran: “For us to beat them, we’ll have to play to our full potential. . . . We are confident that we can win, but we can’t compete with teams like this week in and week out.” Harvard lost to Alemany last season, 28-0. The Saracens will need a good game from senior Dominic Sandifer, an All-Southern Section kicker who will also play running back and safety. Alemany’s Roy Talavera may be the Valley’s best defensive back and figures to play a key role.
Chaminade vs. Notre Dame
Notre Dame High 7:30 p.m.
Chaminade, which was 7-3-1 last season, uses a classic I-formation power running attack. Junior Jonas Escalera and sophomore Sean Burwell will alternate at tailback and carry the ball 15 to 20 times each. Junior quarterback Dave Morrison, who lead the sophomore team to a title last season, has a strong arm and will benefit from experienced wide receivers Robert Bae and Steve Orr. Notre Dame, 3-7 last season, also has talented receivers in Paul Oester, Steve Hamilton, Matt McElreath and Brian Greenfield. The Knights have not settled on a quarterback, however, with senior Brendan Cowles, junior Morgan Shepherd and sophomore Bobby Hughes competing for the job.
Crespi vs. El Rancho
El Rancho High 7:30 p.m.
Crespi fans will have to drive to Pico Rivera to watch Russell White, the highly touted sophomore running back, carry the ball for the first time. “We will greet him to varsity football as best we can,” El Rancho Coach Don Peterson said. A school of 2,500 in Pico Rivera, El Rancho was Whitmont League champion last season and had an overall record of 10-2. The Dons graduated many of their key players but are ranked 14th in the Eastern Conference in the Southern Section preseason poll. Only quarterback Mike Perea, running back Joey Para and center Joe Ledesma return for the Dons. Fourteen starters return for Crespi, which is ranked ninth in the Big-Five Conference.
South Torrance vs. Thousand Oaks
Thousand Oaks High 7:30 p.m.
Seven starters return on defense for Thousand Oaks, ranked No. 3 in the Coastal Conference preseason poll. Only one starter--Marc Monestime--returns in the offensive backfield, but the junior tailback gained 1,340 yards last season. South Torrance is not ranked, but should move the ball consistently with senior tailback Steve Kujawa (821 yards in seven starts) running behind tackles Brian Kelly (6-5, 250) and Tim Drevno (6-3, 250). Thousand Oaks has its own pair of highly touted tackles in Spencer Smith (6-3, 220) and Mike Yasenchok (6-1, 200). Quarterbacks Rob McKinnon of Thousand Oaks and Tom Mace of South Torrance are seniors, but neither started last season.
Ventura vs. Simi Valley
Simi Valley High 7:30 p.m.
Defending Marmonte League co-champion Simi Valley will give two senior quarterbacks--returning starter Mark Bustamante and transfer Todd Studer--opportunities to move the offense, a tough chore against Ventura, a three-time defending Channel League champion. Although Ventura lost All-Southern Section tailback Eric Turner to graduation, Coach Harvey Kochel said, “Our overall talent is as high as ever.” Seniors Buddy Huang and John Brown assume the ball-carrying duties. Linebacker/guard Vince Lawler (6-0, 205) is Ventura’s best player. Juniors Troy Fortin and Gregg Williams, both of whom started on defense last season, will alternate at quarterback.
Newbury Park vs. Agoura
Agoura High 7:30 p.m.
Under 12-year Coach Ken Cook, Newbury Park traditionally fields a strong defense and ball-control offense. This year’s team is cast in the same mold. Four 200-pound linemen lead the defense. Greg Mattes and Greg Goulart are two lineman that will go both ways on the line. Steve Cull and Billy Peterson are starter on the offensive line while defensively Mike Stein and Robert Yoof will be starters. Senior quarterback Jayson Merrill, a small but savvy returning starter, will be looking for Steve Muscarella in the backfield. Agoura, under 18-year Coach Frank Greminger, usually combines a slick veer offense with a punishing defense. The Chargers lost quarterback Jon DeGennaro and Donnie Rea to graduation, and Greminger may use the opener to evaluate several players at each position. Several seniors that are vying for starting linebacker positions are David Steussie, Rob Lichtman and Sean Mulvey. Greminger will be looking at Rick Dobrowski and Scott Heflin at quarterback.
Rio Mesa vs. Channel Islands
At Hueneme High 7 p.m.
Channel Islands Coach Joel Gershon figures he has one of the best teams in school history. He may find out tonight just how good when his senior-dominated team faces Rio Mesa. “They have one of the best, if not the best quarterbacks we’ll face all year,” Gershon said of senior Steve Carolyn, who led Rio Mesa to a share of the Channel League title last season. Carolyn should get good pass protection with senior linemen Steve Herrera, Bill Henshaw and Gary Dawson returning. Senior Manuel Sanchez is Rio Mesa’s top running back. The Spartan split-four defense will be anchored by senior linebackers Chuck Polk and Brian Rhodes.