FOOTBALL '89 : Prep Gridders to Kick Off '89 : Westchester, Brentwood Expected to Be Powers Again

Times Staff Writer

Brentwood, defending champion in the CIF-Southern Section Eight-Man Large Division, is picked to repeat in the CIF preseason football poll, and Westchester, which went to the Los Angeles City 3-A final last year, may be the Westside's strongest 11-man team.

Other local high school teams that should make a good showing include Fairfax, Hamilton, Venice, Santa Monica, St. Monica and Beverly Hills.

An alphabetical listing of each of the Westside prep football teams and their prospects follows.

Beverly Hills Normans

CIF-Southern Section, Division II, Bay League

COACHES: Bill Stansbury and Dick Billingsley, sixth year as co-coaches.

LAST YEAR: 8-4 overall, 4-3 fourth in Bay League.

FIRST GAME: Friday, Lompoc, 3 p.m.

Strengths: Speed at wide receiver, defensive back and running back may be strongest point. No. 1 tailback Danny Edwards returns, and he'll be backed up by junior Greg Holmes, who will double at linebacker.

Junior cornerback Darren Smith may be team's fastest man. Cornerback John Song may be team's best receiver.

Other returning starters include Fabrice Perzik, who moves from defensive end to linebacker and has beefed up from about 187 pounds to 212; 220-pound defensive tackle Devon Sando and cornerback Sean Marks.

Problems: Replacing passing combination of John Johnson to Michael Moore, who accounted for a lot of yardage last year. Robbie Welles, Johnson's backup, is said to have improved and will probably often try to locate Song with his passes.

Offensive line and entire defense will be almost new. Billingsley said many of the linemen he is counting on are juniors who are not very big. "They average about 210 across the line, 215 at most."

Offensive and defensive sets: Pro style, multiple sets. Split six, 6-2-3.

Players to watch: Edwards could have good year if he gets blocking from inexperienced linemen. Perzik recovered 10 fumbles last year, and added poundage probably won't slow him much. Marks can return kickoffs a long way.

Brentwood Eagles

CIF-Southern Section, Eight-Man Large Division, Delphic League

COACH: Pat Brown, ninth year.

LAST YEAR: 9-1 overall, 3-0 Delphic League champions.

FIRST GAME: Saturday at Big Pine, 1:30 p.m.

Strengths: Size and strength for eight-man game, led by biggest, strongest player, Hamilton Von Watt (6-2, 205), an All-Southern Section linebacker last year.

Other experienced players, including All-SS defensive back Aaron Short, all-league defensive tackles Rosey Grier (son of former All-NFL defensive lineman Roosevelt Grier) and Evan Wender, and linebacker Zack Freedman, an all-league second teamer.

Problems: At quarterback, where there is no experience and where Brown has "penciled in a few kids who have never taken a snap." Eagles may also miss top runner Jay Langan, who graduated and hopes to play for Boston College. Brown says he has no one who looks like a wide receiver and will play two tight ends.

Offensive and defensive sets: Double-back offense in a power-I for most part, 2-4.

Players to watch: Junior Derrick Amey, last year's fullback, moves to tailback and will carry ball about 25 times a game. Compact (5-9, 170), with powerful legs, Amey moved from junior varsity to varsity after first game last year and alternated at fullback. Fullbacks this year will include Von Watt, Grier and Short, who will also spell Amey at tailback.

Crenshaw Cougars

CIF-City Section, Southern Pacific Conference, 4-A Pacific League

CO-COACHES: Robert Garrett and Terrel Ray, second year.

LAST YEAR: 5-4 overall, 4-3 fourth in Pacific League.

FIRST GAME: Sept. 22, Manual Arts, 3 p.m.

Strengths: Speed at running back. Good receivers. Some pro-size linemen in two-way tackle John Wilson (6-5, 290), who played only defense last year, and Tony Wilson (6-2, 280), who may see action either at center or at his old defensive tackle spot. Another center candidate, junior Enrique Henderson (6-0, 225) is said to bench press more than 500 pounds.

Problems: Quarterback may or may not be problem. Position is tossup between Derrick Williams, an option type, and junior Daryl Loper, more of a pure passer.

No maybes that there is big problem on defense, where Cougars were almost all seniors last year. "Defense wins ball games," says Garrett, "and we're rebuilding the defense."

Offensive and defensive sets: Multiple sets, 5-2.

Players to watch: Garrett thinks Cougars will go to playoffs, buoyed by speedsters such as running back Kevin Hicks and fullback Charles Jenkins, and top returning wide receivers Devin Montgomery and Walter Hill.

Culver City Centaurs

CIF-Southern Section, Division VII, Ocean League

COACH: Lou Lichtl, first year.

LAST YEAR: 2-8 overall, 0-7 eighth in Ocean League.

FIRST GAME: Friday, St. Bernard, 7:30 p.m.

Strengths: Five returning starters on offense and eight on defense. Had success in passing league with new quarterback Troy Dunlap, an all-league defensive back last year. Good receivers in all-league Greg Hooks, Vince Cortes, Jesse Johnson and sophomore Dameron Ricketts, fastest player on team. Capable runner in tailback John Haqq, a backup last year.

Problems: Lichtl said he lost nearly all his offensive linemen from last year and does not have many prospects. Best is probably tackle-guard Chris Shaffer (5-11, 190), who doubles at linebacker; biggest is certainly two-way tackle Ricardo Gonzalez (6-3, 290), said by Lichtl to have "a lot of natural quickness for a guy that big."

Lack of depth, the cry of many Westside coaches. Only 36 turned out.

In same league with powers Carson and Banning.

Offensive, defensive sets: Pro-I with slotbacks, 5-2.

Players to watch: Haqq is quick, durable and can catch passes, but at 5-9 and 146, he is not the dominating Culver City tailback of old who used to carry on most downs. Lichtl says Centaurs will pass more often than in the past and hopes that Dunlap and his receivers will jump-start the offense.

Dorsey Dons

CIF-City Section, Southern Pacific Conference, 4-A Pacific League

CO-COACHES: Paul Knox and Eugene McAdoo, fifth year together at Dorsey.

LAST YEAR: 9-3 overall, 5-2 third in Pacific.

FIRST GAME: Sept. 15, Manual Arts, 8 p.m.

Strengths: Talent and speed as usual. Star wide receiver Kevin Copeland has received mention as one of nation's best and is said to run a 4.4 40. All-league free safety Chris Cook will add quarterback duties and should be good replacement for departed Roman Foster. Junior Lamont Warren, leading rusher and scorer on 9-1 Bs, will take over at tailback for speedy graduate Beano Bryant.

Defense, which turned in five shutouts last season, should be strong, if not as strong as last year. Defensive stalwarts include lineman Jose Velazquez (6-3, 240), who will play nose guard and end; tackle Demetrick Watts (6-0, 250) and linebacker Tamecus Peoples (6-1, 200). Problems: Except for offensive tackle Ronald Lewis (6-3, 260), all starters on offensive line have to be replaced. One of replacements will be top defensive tackle John Blair (5-11, 260), who moves to offensive tackle. Another will be former reserve center Marlon Lewis (5-11, 250).

"We have a lot of talented players, but a lot of unproven players," said McAdoo. "I'm sure as the season wears on and they get experience, they will get better and better."

Like Crenshaw, Dons is in same league with Carson and Banning.

Offensive and defensive sets: Multiple offense, 40 defense with multiple fronts.

Players to watch: Copeland is exciting performer. McAdoo thinks Cook will still star on defense and "do a fine job" at quarterback. He said Warren is "an outstanding athlete" and has a best time of 48 seconds in the 440.

Fairfax Lions

CIF-City Section, Coastal Conference, 4-A Metro League

COACHES: Ron Price and Earl Smith, second year as co-coaches.

LAST YEAR: 6-4 overall, 4-3 Metro champion.

FIRST GAME: Sept. 22 vs. El Camino Real at Canoga Park High School, 8 p.m.

Strengths: Superior runner in junior Mario Mattison, who didn't play much in first three games as sophomore but still wound up with 1,408 yards and eight touchdowns.

Tough defense led by junior defensive back Milo Bynum, linebackers Bryan Lewis, Keith Norman and Mattison, also a top defensive back.

Problems: Receivers could be better than last year, but who will get them the ball? It may be Bynum or sophomore Rahim Muhammad Jr., who seems to have the edge at quarterback.

Few experienced linemen, either on offense or defense. Ron Davis, a 6-3, 300-pound defensive tackle, will probably play just offensive tackle this year. Price said Davis "could be very good."

Offensive and defensive sets: Multiple sets, Eagle 3-4.

Players to watch: Mattison, of course, but most defenders will be watching him also.

Hamilton Yankees

CIF-City Section, Coastal Conference, 4-A Metro League

COACH: John Ausbon, first year.

LAST YEAR: 3-7-1 overall, 2-4-1 second in Metro.

FIRST GAME: Sept. 22 at Hollywood, 3 p.m.

Strengths: Ausbon is in his first year as a varsity coach, but he spent last two years as assistant at Washington High and eight years as B coach at Fairfax.

All-purpose player Jay Fields and a big, experienced offensive line.

Fields (5-5, 155) may be small, but he doesn't let that hold him back. Last year he was team's leading rusher, caught passes and was responsible for kickoffs, field goals and extra points. He also played defensive back.

Returning offensive linemen include two-time all-league center Bryan Orange (5-10, 240), tackles Tony Torres (6-0, 230) and Johnnie Webster (6-2 1/2, 250), guard Charles Gietzen (6-3, 250) and junior guard Michael Bryant (6-3 1/2, 225).

Problems: On a squad of about 35, Ausbon said he will have to use some players on both offense and defense.

Quarterback is not settled and is between last year's backup, Courtney Curry, and Demetrius Lenards, B quarterback last season, who may wind up playing wide receiver-defensive back.

Offensive and defensive sets: I-formation with split backs, 4-4.

Players to watch: Fields--and spectators will have many opportunities to do so; he may never sit down.

Hollywood Sheiks

CIF-City Section, Northern Conference, 3-A Northwestern League

COACH: Dave Loera, second year.

LAST YEAR: 0-9 overall, 0-7 fourth in Northwest.

FIRST GAME: Sept. 15 at Jordan, 3 p.m.

Strengths: Junior quarterback Jesse Elkins came up from B team late last year, passed for more than 300 yards in last three varsity games and was named all-conference. Loera said that, though Elkins is still learning, he is "a born leader and gutsy."

Junior linebacker Avetis Avedisyan (6-3, 235) also made all-conference as a sophomore, Loera said.

Should have some other pretty good linemen.

Offensive and defensive sets: Power I, 40.

Problems: Because Hollywood students come from many ethnic backgrounds, many are more familiar with futbo l or soccer than with American football. Consequently, the Sheiks keep getting hammered.

Loera said that he faces a recurring problem of being short of players and that those he has are short of experience. Though the team didn't win any games last year, "by the end of the year we were playing some decent football. I hope that will carry over to this year."

Players to watch: Tailback George Sanchez, split end James Bolder, and offensive linemen Paul Young (6-3, 210) and Greg Naldjian (6-2, 232).

Daniel Murphy Nobles

CIF-Southern Section, Division VIII, Santa Fe League

COACH: John Finn, fifth year.

LAST YEAR: 5-5 overall, 4-3 fourth Santa Fe.

FIRST GAME: Friday vs. St. Genevieve at St. Bernard's at 7:30 p.m.

Strengths: Speedy, attacking offense and defense.

All-league slotback Hanni Youseff switches to quarterback and is expected to lead team as rollout type. Slotbacks George Merlos and Francisco Dominguez, junior split end Nikko Fournier and running back Umberto Irigoyen (also a defensive end) may be tough to contain. Junior center Oleg Zatsepin (6-2, 255), biggest man on team, could be good one, and offensive tackle James Cisneros (5-10, 195) will anchor line.

Swarming defenders will include cornerback linebacker Danny Henry (5-10, 215), Jesus Williams (league champion at 400 meters), free safety Mike Morales, defensive end-offensive tackle Howard Yates (6-0, 185), and cornerback-split end Brian Smith.

Problems: Finn said, "We'll be weak in size and numbers; we won't have a ton of guys (32)."

Offensive and defensive sets: Run-and-shoot, 4-4 with multiple looks.

Player to watch: How well Youseff adapts at quarterback should be key to how well offense goes. Finn said the former slotback "is definitely a leader."

Palisades Dolphins

CIF-City Section, Coastal Conference, 4-A Metro League

COACH: Jack Epstein, fifth year.

LAST YEAR: 1-8 overall, 1-6 fourth in Metro.

FIRST GAME: Sept. 15, St. Monica, 6:30 p.m.

Strengths: Few. Epstein lists quickness and desire as about only strong points. Only four lettermen, all starters, return, and the best of these is probably all-league linebacker-center Brian McElroy (5-10, 190). Senior quarterback Michael Rose, who did not play last year, could be shot in arm that Palisades needs, but Epstein says he would make better wide receiver.

Problems: Declining school enrollment in recent years has meant fewer athletes and fewer football victories. Turnout this year was only 25. Epstein says he doesn't have first strings on offense and defense but "one string."

Epstein laments taking on strong Southern Section teams St. Monica and Santa Monica early, since SS teams get earlier start on practice. St. Monica also opens season week before Palisades game.

Offensive and defensive sets: pro-T, split-6.

Players to watch: Wide receiver-defensive back Anthony Cope could blossom on offense if Rose develops as passer. But Epstein says Dolphins will have "more of a hard-running game." The chief runner appears to be Calvin Young, also a defensive back, who is up from Bs.

St. Bernard Vikings

CIF-Southern Section, Division VII, Camino, Real League

COACH: Jerry Campbell, first year. New assistants include Bill Williams, Tom Strickland, Tom Caines, Andre Hayes, Lyn Lumley.

LAST YEAR: 5-6 overall, 2-2 third in Camino Real.

FIRST GAME: Friday at Culver City, 7:30 p.m.

Strengths: New head coach in Campbell, new uniforms, new assistants, new system. Campbell, an assistant at Cal State Northridge last three years and an assistant at other schools for 10 years before that, says he always wanted to be a head coach and that taking over at St. Bernard "looks like a challenge." Campbell says Vikings "will be real tough" at skill positions. Terrence Sullivan, who stepped in at quarterback last year and threw for 1,800 yards, steps aside for sophomore Chris Keldorf (6-5, 210). Sullivan will return to defense, where he moves to strong safety. Campbell says Keldorf "can throw the ball a country mile."

Rocks will have to be the seniors: Sullivan, running back-free safety Keith Hawkins; defensive-back, linebacker-tight end Floyd Hines (6-3, 205), center Bill Estelle (6-5, 275), linebacker-tight end David Washington (6-2, 210), cornerbacks Greg Perry and Quentin Daniels, and fullback-linebacker Cedric Nelms (5-10, 190).

Problems: With only eight seniors, Vikings' new look will come in shades of green, and players will have to get used to new alignments.

Most offensive linemen weren't starters last year. But, says Campbell, "if we can get our guys up front squared away, we could have a good season."

Offensive and defensive sets: Multiple sets, Oklahoma 5-2 with six different fronts.

Players to watch: Junior wide receiver Mel Beard supposedly can fly, but will Keldorf be able to locate him with those passes he can heave a mile?

St. Monica Mariners

CIF-Southern Section, Division VIII, Santa Fe League

COACH: Angelo Jackson, second year.

LAST YEAR: 9-2 overall, 6-1 second Santa Fe.

FIRST GAME: Friday at Charter Oak, 7:30 p.m.

Strengths: Delaware winged-T, which devastated defenses last year with its unorthodox look.

Wingbacks Mike Wagner and Diallo Hall, who did most of running and scoring for Mariners last year, are gone, but fullback Jerome Richards, who gained nearly 800 yards, is back. Senior Damone Ewell, who gained 2,000 yards on the jayvees as a sophomore but sat out last year, will be at one wingback, and junior Dion Bergeron may be at other--if he doesn't beat out junior Casey Sullivan (6-3, 170) at quarterback.

Jackson says offensive line, linebackers and defensive secondary should be very tough. Secondary, led by highly touted Lamar Lyons (6-3, 200), John Henderson and all-league Adrionne Crawford, could be one of best around. Guard Payam Saadat (6-2, 215), center David Gonzalez (6-3, 240) and guard Julio Quinteros (6-0, 225) will do much of the blocking, and defensive bulwarks are expected to be linebackers Manny Nieto, a junior (6-1, 215); Mike Curutchet (6-2, 220) and junior James White (5-11, 190) and defensive ends George Stansell (6-1, 195) and Oscar Castillo (6-2, 215).

Problems: Finding problems takes some hunting.

Jackson says he has 36 on the roster, perhaps not quite enough to two-platoon, which he likes to do. Tackles on both lines will be newcomers, but, Jackson says, "If the big kids can learn to play a little bit for us, I think we will be pretty decent." Big kids include junior Brandon Price (6-6, 250) and senior Chris Chapman (6-6, 300).

Offensive and defensive sets: Multiple with modified winged-T, 3-4.

Players to watch: Jackson says Lyons, a transfer from University High who will also play tight end, has received national attention from scouts because of his performance at three summer camps.

Jackson says secondary could be the best in Southern Section and that cornerback Henderson could be one of best in section.

Santa Monica Vikings

CIF-Southern Section, Division II, Bay League

COACH: Tebb Kusserow, 16th year.

LAST YEAR: 7-3 overall, 6-1 first in Bay.

FIRST GAME: Sept. 16 vs. Pasadena at Pasadena City College, 7:30 p.m.

Strengths: Kusserow has been big winner for most of his 15 years, and the tradition should continue.

All-Southern Section tailback Mark Harper is coming off a season in which he scored 29 touchdowns and rushed for nearly 1,700 yards.

John Aylsworth returns at split end, and brother Bob, a junior who played two seasons on the sophomore team, is new quarterback. Aylsworth to Aylsworth may work as passing combination.

Problems: Offensive line, except for center Eric Banducci (6-3, 250) and tight end Todd Kusserow (6-2, 210), the coach's son, will be all new, and last year's line may have been best in school history. Lineman Steven Zepeda (5-11, 220) may go both ways.

Defense will also be inexperienced and will have to get leadership from returning starters Matt Schmitter (5-10, 190) at linebacker and defensive end, Mike North (5-10, 180) at linebacker and cornerback, and cornerback Terry Beasley.

Offensive and defensive sets: Pro-I, traditional 5-2 may end up as 4-3 or 3-4.

Players to watch: Harper may have to make some of his own holes with new line, but he is capable of doing that. Banducci has received national notice at center.

University Warriors

CIF-City Section, Coastal Conference, 3-A Western League

COACH: Brad Ratcliff, third year.

LAST YEAR: 5-4 overall, 3-4 fourth in Western.

FIRST GAME: Sept. 26 at Birmingham at 8 p.m.

Strengths: Unknown on a team with only one returning starter, tight end Danny Brown, who moves to tailback and strong safety.

A good running attack could develop since Ratcliff plans to run more often than pass, a switch that results from little height. He will play a lot of sophomores and says the best among them may be running back-linebacker Javon Moore (5-10, 170). Ratcliff says juniors Kyle Bryant, a wide receiver-cornerback, and Robert Hughes (5-9, 190), a fullback-linebacker, will not only go both ways but play on special teams and may do well at returning kicks and punts.

Problems: New quarterback Danny Bravo, up from Bs and a junior, and sophomore backup Larry Elmer will have to roll out a lot, says Ratcliff. Not only are they rollout passers but also small; fledgeling linemen may not be able to "hold the pocket long enough to protect the quarterbacks," he says.

Offensive and defensive sets: Run-and-shoot, 6-1-4.

Players to watch: Brown, Bryant, Hughes and Bravo could shore up a young team.

Venice Gondoliers

CIF-City Section, Coastal Conference, 3-A Western League

COACH: Al Dellinger, 17th year.

LAST YEAR: 7-3 overall, 5-2 third in Western.

FIRST GAME: Sept. 15, Huntington Park, 8 p.m.

Strengths: Fair amount of experience, with 11 lettermen and seven returning starters.

Offensive line should be good and will include tackle Julio Diaz (6-4 1/2, 265) and guard Brian Gorski (5-11, 230), returning starters, and lettermen Art Ramos (5-10, 230) at center and Rudy Carreon (5-10, 180) at tight end and defensive end. Newcomers are Nigel Mills (5-11, 230) at guard and junior tackle Brin Morimoto (5-5, 270).

Defense has a veteran look, with defensive back Louis Jones (6-1, 195), who may also play wide receiver or quarterback; cornerbacks Lerone McElrath and Aaron Bolden and linebackers Art Cabral (5-9, 175) and Jerry Turner (5-11, 205). Kevin Hunnicut (5-11, 200), who started at defensive tackle and linebacker, also is back. Turner was ineligible last year but was starting tailback the year before. He will carry ball, and McElrath may also play tailback. Cabral will also start again at fullback.

Problems: Quarterback position may be unsettled at first. Dellinger said he may use Jones, the team's best athlete, there, or give the ball to sophomore Jason Ehlers, a cousin of last year's starter, Eddie Soto. He said that Ehlers did well in passing league.

Team is thin at wide receiver; Bolden will have to double at that spot.

Dellinger said enrollment is down to about 1,700, and "we're scratching for players. We're OK one or two deep, but there is nothing beyond that."

Players to watch: If Jones is quarterback, Gondoliers will emphasize run; if Ehlers gets job, team will pass a little more than usual.

Westchester Comets

CIF-City Section, Coastal Conference, 3-A Western League

COACH: Larry Wein. ASSISTANT: Sean Hanagan.

LAST YEAR: 10-4 overall, 6-1 first in Western.

FIRST GAME: Sept. 15 vs. Granada Hills at El Camino Real High, 3 p.m.

Strengths: Tim Holliday, who rushed for 1,200 yards despite missing four early games because of a strained Achilles' tendon, is back and has whetted the attention of the nation's college scouts. Fullbacks Walter Grissom and Chris Baccus, who also play tailback, give Comets "three super backs," Hanagan said.

Offensive line has five of six starters back: junior center Wes Smith (6-0, 175), guard Noah Kaiser (6-1, 230), tackles Hassan Allen (6-0, 220) and Calvin Dotson (6-4, 255), and tight end Darren Johnson (6-0, 185).

Defense will be led by linebacker Butch Hahn (6-1, 215), Smith at tackle, Johnson at linebacker, junior linebacker Devin Brown (6-1, 195) and defensive backs David Brown and David Wein, the coach's son.

Problems: Junior David Freeman, up from the Bs, is expected to be new quarterback, backed up by Wein. Freeman is untested and has been sidelined by injuries in past.

Team needs to come up with good wide receivers, a position depleted by graduation.

Offensive, defensive sets: Multiple, option oriented; Oklahoma 5-2.

Players to watch: Holliday may have big season. Hanagan said star tailback "wants the ball in critical situations and has a lot of confidence. But the game is not an ego trip for him." Hahn is big hitter.

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