Santa Monica, WLA to Open Saturday

Times Staff Writer

Santa Monica College will try to build on last year's promise, and West Los Angeles College will try to forget last year when they play their football openers Saturday.

The SMC Corsairs, 6-5 last year, will be at Chaffey College at 7 p.m., and the WLAC Oilers, 0-10 in 1988, will play host to Victor Valley at 1 p.m.

The Corsairs, ranked 18th in the state in preseason by the JC Athletic Bureau, played in the first Western State Conference Bowl last season, losing to No. 9 Glendale, 23-20. WLAC returned to football last season after a two-year hiatus because of budget cuts, and Coach Dick Jones had to try and rebuild the program after he was hired in May, 1988.

Though the Corsairs, who finished second to national champion Bakersfield in the Western State Conference South Division last season, have only a couple of returning starters, Coach Ralph Vidal, said that the team's apparent inexperience is "kind of deceptive."

"We have some talented, strong players who played behind good people last year," Vidal said. "Plus, we have some key transfers who started at other schools."

All-state tackle Eduardo Vegas (6-6 1/2, 322), the former Hamilton High star, leads the offensive line, and Vidal said that Randy Cole (6-2, 224) "could become the finest linebacker" in the school's history. Either former Venice High star Ernie Soto, who sat out last year with a leg injury, or Jeff Barrett, a Nevada Reno transfer, will start at quarterback.

WLAC's Jones said his team "will be more competitive. We have better quality this year."

Among returning Oilers are wide receiver Stanley Howell, linebacker Craig Bowens, offensive guard David Hodge and free safety Kevin Bowers. The quarterback will be former Crenshaw High player Kevin McNeal, who served in the armed forces the last two years.

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