COACH: Jim Beckenhauer, 6th season
LAST SEASON: 6-4; 3rd in league, 2-3
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Once again, Beckenhauer is faced with the prospect of molding an undersized, inexperienced team into a winner. Only 29 players showed up for the Falcons’ first practice and 27 weighed less than 200 pounds. Last season’s team was similar in size (one player weighed more than 200 pounds) but had quarterback Ryan Kadletz, the first Crescenta Valley passer in six seasons to throw for more than 1,000 yards. Kadletz graduated and senior Stuart Foster and junior Aaron Shaeffer, a recently converted wide receiver, will compete to replace him. Jason Schwaiger, who gained 155 yards rushing in limited action last season, will play running back and inside linebacker. Schwaiger (5-foot-10, 185 pounds) was the team’s second-leading tackler with 65. Jason Rountree (5-9, 160), a standout tailback on the sophomore team, also will carry the ball. The offensive line is small but experienced: tackles Dan Obradovich (6-1, 180) and Dan McCarty (6-0, 210) and guard Mark O’Neil (5-9, 170) return. Eric Steinlight, a second-team all-league defensive end, anchors the Falcon defense with Schwaiger.
OUTLOOK: The offensive line could click for the Falcons, but it needs a good quarterback to protect if Crescenta Valley is to be successful. Foster has limited varsity experience and Shaeffer is new to the position. Schwaiger is a solid ballcarrier, but he needs a passing threat to get his ground game going. Defensively, the Falcons are green.
COACH: Don Shoemaker, 3rd season
LAST SEASON: 4-6; 5th in league, 1-4
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Nine offensive players return and Shoemaker is looking for strong performances from the quarterback and backfield positions. Erik Kiesau (5-10, 170) completed 74 of 142 passes for 864 yards and four touchdowns as a junior, but with minus-106 yards rushing last year Kiesau will leave most of the running chores to fullback Hector Maya (5-10,205) and all-league tailback Pathon Rucker (6-0, 185 junior). Rucker rushed for 893 yards and seven touchdowns in 1989. “He’s 15 to 20 pounds bigger and stronger,” Shoemaker said. “I see him as one of the premier backs in the area.” Albert Ocon (6-2, 260), a two-time all-league guard who is being recruited by all the Pacific 10 Conference schools, and his brother Max, a 5-10, 210-pound tackle, will help create the holes for Maya and Rucker. Tim Hilton (5-9, 150) and Ely Enriquez (5-10, 160), an all-league defensive back, boast speed and agility as wide receivers. Receiver Axel Nielson (6-2, 190) caught 18 passes for 165 yards in ’89.
OUTLOOK: The Dynamiters’ strength lies in their running game, but Shoemaker believes that the passing game is the key ingredient. “I think the season is going to come down to how effective Kiesau throws the ball,” he said. The Pacific League is tough and Glendale opens league play against defending champion Arcadia, Pasadena and Division II co-champion Muir. “I don’t see an easy game until we play Hoover at the end of the season,” Shoemaker said.
COACH: Dennis Hughes, 5th season
LAST SEASON: 1-9; 6th in league, 1-4
PLAYERS TO WATCH: The Tornadoes lost their starting backfield, linebackers, defensive backs and all but one offensive lineman and return 17 players, five of whom were starters. David Bronner was an all-league punter in 1989 with a 39-yard average. He also will handle the kicking chores and occasionally will triple as a tight end. Halfbacks Ara Balkian (5-10, 175) and Alex Dixon (6-1, 210), and fullback Charlie Barnes (5-10, 200) are starters in Hoover’s wishbone attack. Balkian and Barnes also are potential starters at inside linebacker along with David Guerrero (5-10, 190). “Since Ara and Barnes start on offense, it would be great if David could beat one of them out so we can rest one of them for offense,” Hughes said. Hughes will decide between Rene Gabri (6-0, 170) and Walter Ulloa (5-8, 155) for the starting quarterback job. “Rene has more experience (but) Walter is quicker than Rene,” Hughes said. Ulloa is a free safety in Hoover’s split-four defense. Wide receiver candidates Koko Keledjian (6-2, 180) and junior Chris Kalaleh (6-1, 175) also will double at the corners. Raffe Guejeyan (5-9, 170) and Dixon are the outside linebackers.
OUTLOOK: With most starters playing both ways because of Hoover’s lack of depth, it is doubtful that the Tornadoes will turn any heads in league play this season. “It’s real questionable,” Hughes said. “We’re real young and real inexperienced. On defense we have kids who haven’t played that much and our offensive line is inexperienced and so is our backfield.”