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City Central Football Preview : It Again Looks Like Lincoln, Then Best of Rest

Since the start of the City Central League in 1981, Lincoln High has gone 32-3 in league games and won five league titles and San Diego CIF football championships in 1985 and ’86. Come December, those numbers could read 37-3, six and three.

The Hornets are loaded and once again expected to be not only the class of the league but of Class 2-A.

As for the rest of the league, Christian Coach Lynn Cole said it best. “Lincoln is always the front-runner. Any team that stays healthy is going to be in the hunt for that second place.”

When Lincoln has faltered, it has been because of Crawford. The Colts have three league banners since ’81 (Lincoln and Crawford were co-champs in ’86) and should fare well again if it can survive its tough non-league schedule without major injuries.

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Oddly, every team has more returning starters than new ones, but four have new coaches. Vic Player (in his 12th season at Lincoln) and John Johnson (eighth at Hoover) are the only returning coaches, although all have been around the league in one way or another.

Christian

Last season’s record: 6-4, 4-1 in league.

Finish: Second.

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Coach: Lynn Cole.

Top returners: David Jeremiah (6-1, 200, Sr., QB), Chris Serrod (5-11, 170, Sr., DB), Shawn Anderson (5-11, 175, Sr., RB/S), Bo Sutherland (6-1, 170, Sr., WR/DB).

Top newcomers: Merv Hartman (6-2, 190, Sr., WR), Hunter Buckner (6-3, 180, Jr., FB/DE)

Outlook: Cole is in his first year as head coach at Christian after being an assistant last year and head coach at Grossmont for five years. Don’t expect too many changes for a team that has gone 25-17-1 over the past four seasons and made two consecutive trips to the playoffs. Jeremiah, a mobile, strong-armed quarterback, leads a balanced offense with seven starters returning. The defense must mature for the Patriots to return to the playoffs. Christian has five Saturday night games, giving it a good opportunity to scout opponents on Fridays.

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Crawford

Last season’s record: 6-4, 3-2 in league.

Finish: Third.

Coach: Dan Armstrong.

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Top returners: Robert Howard (6-0, 170, Sr., RB/LB), Chris Johnson (6-1, 180, Sr., LB/QB), Ramond Thompson (6-1, 225, Sr., OL/DL), Mike Angeles (5-11, 195, Sr., OL/DL).

Top newcomers: Eric Turner (5-11, 160, Sr., RB).

Outlook: This is Armstrong’s first year after five as an assistant. Without Keith Gilbert at quarterback, expect more of an emphasis on the run with Howard and Coronado High transfer Turner the principals. The Colts should return to the playoffs for the seventh consecutive year, but to challenge Lincoln, they must remain healthy. Eight players start both ways. Chris Townsend will open at quarterback over capable backup Johnson.

Hoover

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Last season’s record: 3-7, 2-3 in league.

Finish: Fourth.

Coach: John Johnson.

Top returners: Jerome Gross (5-9, 150, Sr., WR), Joe Odom (6-1, 210, Sr., RB), Bracey Simmons (6-1, 165, Sr., QB).

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Top newcomers: Jerome Kennedy (5-7, 165, Jr., DB), Alex Davis (6-1, 195, Fr., RB).

Outlook: Johnson has the skill players, but the Cardinals lack size. Last season, coming off an 8-4 playoff year, hard-luck Hoover lost to Crawford, 13-10 and Christian, 12-6, and were beaten, 7-6, by Lincoln while having a PAT blocked and giving up 89-yard TD run. With shutouts of longtime rivals San Diego and St. Augustine, the defense allowed only 6.4 point per game in the league. Hoover plays six consecutive home afternoon games, seven total. Freshman Davis should see plenty of action as a runner and also is the kicker.

Lincoln

Last season’s record: 8-2, 5-0 in league.

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Finish: First.

Coach: Vic Player.

Top returners: Orlonzo Edwards (5-9, 175, Sr., RB/DB), Joe Temple (6-4, 200, Sr., TE/DB), Trennell Norris (6-0, 180, Sr., LB/WR), Monte Smith (6-1, 210, Sr., OL), William Arbuthnot (6-2, 215, Sr., OL/DL), Shawn Jones (6-0, 245, Sr., OL).

Top newcomers: Doug Boyd (5-8, 160, Jr., RB).

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Outlook: To go with their typical speed, the Hornets are bigger, more experienced and have “more depth than normal,” according to Player. A young 1987 team lost to San Pasqual in the semifinals. Darrin Wagner, the player of the year and county’s leading rusher, and quarterback Freddie Stokes are gone. Their replacements, Edwards and senior David Drake, are capable. Every other position is filled with a returning starter.

St. Augustine

Last season’s record: 3-7, 0-5 league.

Finish: Sixth.

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Coach: Marty Martin.

Top returners: Andy Chiles (6-6, 225, Sr., OL/DL), Ruben Fontes (6-1, 205, Sr., LB/RB), John Muller (6-1, 220, Sr., C/LB).

Top newcomers: Greg Stevens (6-0, 180, Sr., QB), Jason Alcoser (6-3, 185, Jr., RB/DB).

Outlook: The first year coach, Martin, hopes to build the program into annual winner as he did at Christian. The Saints are not deep and will use many players both ways. An injury-free team could reach .500 and the playoffs. Saints has had one winning season (1982) since 1973. Top receiver Jim Bitler is out with an ankle injury.

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San Diego

Last season’s record: 1-9, 1-4 in league.

Finish: Fifth.

Coach: Scotty Harris.

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Top returners: Brian Baird (6-3, 192, Sr., QB), Israel Salgado (5-10, 201, Jr., OL/DL), Brandon Scales (6-1, 179, Sr., HB/WR), Mia Labovitz (5-9, 144, Sr., K).

Top newcomers: Letchaw Andre (6-2, 170, Sr., TE), J.R. Greer (6-4, 198, So., TE).

Outlook: Harris returns for the third time as the head coach. His last tour came in 1983, the Cavers’ last winning season at 5-4-1. A 7-2 victory over St. Augustine last year was their first league victory since ’83. Kicker Labovitz, the first girl to play and score (16 points) in SDCIF football history, returns. Baird has been switched to quarterback in Harris’ two-tight end offense.


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