THE HIGH SCHOOLS: SOUTHERN SECTIONS : MISSION LEAGUE
COACH: Pat Blackburn, 3rd season
LAST SEASON: 6-5; 2nd in Del Rey League, 3-1
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Blackburn is scrambling to find a starting quarterback to replace Joey Rosselli, the 1989 area passing leader with 2,402 yards. Peter Gaines, who played behind Rosselli, and junior Adam Romandi, up from the junior varsity, are the leading candidates. While Blackburn deliberates over the quarterback job, the Indians’ most effective attack will be on the ground. Junior running back Terry Barnum (5-foot-10, 175 pounds), who clocked 10.6 seconds in the 100 meters in track, averaged 5.96 yards a carry as a sophomore and rushed for 741 yards and eight touchdowns. Tight end Richard Dice (6-3, 200) averaged almost 20 yards a reception last year. He also has timed 4.6 seconds for 40 yards. Wrangell Melendres and junior Mike McKay are potential starters at wide receiver. Melendres will double at defensive back. The Indians’ offensive line averages 231 pounds, with tackle Randy Lawson topping the charts at 6-3, 250. The Indians are young; Alemany carries 25 juniors and five sophomores on the varsity.
OUTLOOK: Since the departure of Rosselli, Alemany will rely on Barnum, the Del Rey League 100-meter champion last year. “Obviously, with two rookies at quarterback, it’s going to be the opposite of last year,” Blackburn said. “We’re going to go with a running game and we have to play strong defense. If we allow our opponents only a couple of touchdowns a game, then we’re going to have a successful season.”
COACH: Rich Lawson, 4th season
LAST SEASON: 8-3; 2nd in San Fernando Valley League, 3-1
PLAYERS TO WATCH: The Eagles are a small-school team in a big-name league, and Lawson believes that Chaminade might have gotten more than it bargained for in its hunt for legitimacy. “I don’t know if Chaminade ever figured they’d be playing schools like St. Paul, Crespi and Bishop Montgomery (but) we have a lot of good, quality athletes,” Lawson said. Five players are competing for starting positions in the backfield, but tailback-turned-fullback Ted Corcoran (6-1, 213) is assured of a place in the Eagles’ I-formation. Lawson likes the poise of quarterback Jeff Meyer (6-0, 180). No. 2 quarterback junior Travis Hall (6-3, 200) is one of the fastest athletes on the team and will start at free safety. Tight end Mark Wilshire (6-3, 215), the center on the basketball team, was the steadiest receiver in summer passing leagues and also will play linebacker. Jeff Lavarato (5-11, 170) and junior Andy Krekorian (5-10, 170) are the leading candidates at wide receiver. Defensively, Corcoran, an all-league selection last year, returns at middle linebacker. All-leaguers Matt Sequira and Chris Klawitter will play both ways on the line.
OUTLOOK: Big question marks remain at the running back and wide receiver positions. But Lawson’s other concern is whether his players can rise to the occasion each week against former Division I powers Bishop Montgomery, Crespi, and St. Paul. “Our goal is to finish in the top three (in league play),” Lawson said.
COACH: Tim Lins, 2nd season
LAST SEASON: 7-4; 3rd in Del Rey League, 2-2
PLAYERS TO WATCH: When Leonice Brown, the team’s leading rusher last season with 1,097 yards, transferred to San Fernando, Crespi was left with a gaping hole in the backfield. “We’re in deep, deep water,” Lins said. The top tailback candidates, junior Joe Ruggiero (5-10, 160) and sophomore Torie Lee (5-8, 175), have no varsity experience. Junior quarterback Cody Smith will have to carry more of the offensive load this season. In just four starts last year, he completed 52 of 92 passes for 550 yards and five touchdowns. Crespi is stocked with four senior receivers who will share the position: Ryan Kieling (5-9, 155), Zach Rayner (5-10, 170), Ryan Rosenthal (6-1, 185) and Jim Goetz (5-10, 160). Kieling provides speed and agility; he won Southern Section 2-A Division track titles in the 110-meter high and 300-meter intermediate hurdles. Crespi lacks experience in the secondary. Bill Canalez (5-10, 165), Tim Dornan (5-9, 165), Colin Parsons (5-8, 145) and Lance Thomas (5-11, 160) are vying for the cornerback positions, and Dereck Williams (6-1, 150) will start at free safety. Ken Kuras (6-0, 165) and Mike Peters (5-8, 170) are strong outside linebackers in the Celts’ 4-4 defense. Canalez, who started at quarterback in seven games in 1989, is an effective kicker. He converted 24 of 25 PAT attempts last year.
OUTLOOK: The new Mission League is a potpourri of teams--with schools previously from four powerful leagues--and Lins is uncertain about his team’s chances. “I don’t think we’re going to come in and take the league by storm,” he said. “I don’t think any team will do that.”
COACH: Kevin Rooney, 11th season
LAST SEASON: 11-2; 1st in San Fernando Valley League, 4-0
PLAYERS TO WATCH: The Knights have inexperienced veterans. Rooney boasts 21 returnees but only seven--three on offense and four on defense--were starters last year. “We need to develop some depth,” Rooney said. “Unless we develop some depth, we’re going to be in trouble.” Quarterback Steve Colella (6-5, 205) will replace team leader Greg Andrachick, but Rooney said the new quarterback performed well in summer passing leagues. “He’s got a real strong, accurate arm,” Rooney said. Kirk Miller (6-1, 185) averaged 21.7 yards a reception last year and will pair with Vinnie Orlando (6-0, 170) at wide receiver. Fano Malieitulua (5-10, 175) moves from fullback to tailback after gaining 652 yards (7.5-yard average) as a junior. Although Rooney has not picked a starting fullback, the running game will benefit from John DiSante, a 6-4, 270-pound offensive tackle ranked among the top 100 players nationally by The Sporting News. Tight end Aaron Jones (6-1, 190) provides the Knights with additional blocking strength and speed. Defensive ends Anthony Rodriguez (6-2, 190) and Paul Garcia (6-4, 217) are returning starters.
OUTLOOK: Lack of depth aside, Notre Dame’s strength lies in its defense and skill positions. “Our defense should be solid and quick and I think we’re strong in the quarterback and receiver departments,” said Rooney, whose team advanced to the Division VII semifinals last year.