Crenshaw High School, hoping to rebound from a disappointing 2-6 record last year, opens its season at home against Granada Hills Kennedy at 3 p.m. Friday.
A year ago, Crenshaw opened the season with high hopes for its defense, then was outscored, 178-71. This season Crenshaw is again strong at linebacker, with LaMont Gaston, Rodney Scott, Frederick Wilson and Lafayette Davis.
Defensive tackle Alfred Saunders, a transfer from Arizona, should add to the Cougars' depth.
Kennedy, The Times' third-ranked team and considered the best San Fernando Valley team in the City Section, features seven starters from last season's team. Center Ron Simmons is one of the best linemen in California. Kennedy should pass the ball effectively this season with quarterback Jeff Newman.
Westminster (0-0-1) at Irvine (0-1), Tonight, 7:30 p.m. Each team is trying to rebound from disappointing opening games. Westminster, top-ranked in the Big Five conference preseason poll, played to a 14-14 tie with Placentia Valencia. Irvine blew a 20-6 lead and lost, 34-20, to University High of Irvine. Westminster's Dean Eddy returned a punt 69 yards for a touchdown. George Koutures scored two touchdowns for Irvine, one on a 55-yard interception return and another on a 35-yard pass play from quarterback Jeff Jones.
Riverside Poly (1-0) vs. Tustin Foothill (1-0), at Tustin, Friday, 7:30 p.m. Both teams had to survive late rallies to win their openers. Poly built a 21-0 halftime lead against Arlington behind two touchdowns by senior halfback Kenny White, then held on to win, 21-19. Arlington's rally fell short only because it missed an extra point kick and a two-point conversion try. White gained 60 yards in 10 carries. Foothill led, 28-18, with 8:29 left against Mission Viejo Capistrano Valley. However, Cougar quarterback Todd Marinovich returned from a first-half injury to throw a touchdown pass and give Foothill a scare, but the Knights hung on for a 28-26 win. Tailback John Fischbeck had 157 yards in 31 carries and 3 touchdowns for the Knights.
Lompoc (1-0) vs. Westlake (1-0), at Thousand Oaks, Tonight, 7:30 p.m. Lompoc won its opener, 14-8, over Dos Pueblos of Santa Barbara last week. Lompoc won the Northern League championship and advanced to the Northwestern Conference semifinal last season. Westlake running back Rob Mandel rushed for four touchdowns in the Warriors' 40-18 win over San Marcos last Friday. Quarterback Chris Lemieux passed for one touchdown and scrambled to set up two others. Todd Thompson ran 73 yards for a touchdown on a reverse.
Wilmington Banning (0-0) at Fontana (1-0), Friday, 7:30 p.m. Fontana tuned up for the defending City 4-A champions with an easy, 41-0 win over Pomona Garey last week. Banning relies heavily on its defense. Defensive tackles Terrance Powe and Tyrone Rogers lead a Pilot defensive unit that was scored on only once in the fourth quarter last season. The running game features junior fullback Ken Williams.
Gardena (0-0) vs. Long Beach Poly (0-0), at Veterans Stadium, Friday, 7:30 p.m. First-year Coach Dale Hirayama of Gardena opens against The Times' top-ranked team in the Southern Section. Poly was also ranked No. 1 when the two teams met in last season's opener and the Jackrabbits scored a 7-3 victory to hang onto their ranking. Running back Leonard Russell, who had 1,399 yards and 14 touchdowns last season, is one of the most sought-after players in the country. Eugene Burkhalter is one of the top defensive backs in the Southland. For Gardena, Barry Jackson is starting his second season at outside linebacker. Quarterback Johnny Matamoros was a starter last season and Hirayama believes he has improved since then.