Big 3 Leave Little Room for Opportunity : Football: National power Muir and Pasadena and Arcadia cast intimidating shadows.
The imbalance of power that characterized the Pacific League during the past 10 years shows no sign of shifting as the six member schools begin the 1990s.
Glendale, Crescenta Valley and Hoover highs tonight will open their football seasons with hopes of making the playoffs.
Muir, which will visit Palmdale, has its sights on a mythical national title.
Is there something wrong with this picture?
Just about every coach in the Pacific League thinks so, including Muir’s John Tyree.
“It doesn’t seem that all the schools in the league have a lot in common,” said Tyree, who is in his second season as head of a Mustang program that has claimed three Southern Section Division II championships in five years.
Pacific League coaches are unanimous in their opinion that Glendale, Crescenta Valley and Hoover would be more competitive if they were grouped in a league with Burbank, Burroughs and La Canada.
However, that alignment, which would exploit the natural rivalries caused by the proximity of the schools, has been shot down by the Southern Section several times.
And it is not likely to change any time soon, because as Hoover Coach Dennis Hughes says: “No one wants Pasadena or Muir in their league.”
It’s not difficult to see why.
Muir, Pasadena and defending champion Arcadia have dominated Glendale, Crescenta Valley and Hoover to the point that the Glendale-area schools consider remote their chances of winning a league championship.
“You’re really playing for third place every year,” one of the Glendale-area coaches said. “That’s the bottom line.”
Several coaches suggest that type of imbalance begins with enrollment, which ranges from 1,500 at Crescenta Valley to more than 2,200 at Arcadia.
The ethnic makeup of the student body also plays a role.
“You have to look at communities,” Hughes said. “More than half of our kids are English as a Second Language students. A lot of kids come from families new to the United States and they’re not football-oriented.
“It’s a challenge when you’re coaching kids that don’t know offense from defense. It tests you as a coach and a teacher.”
But it doesn’t necessarily make for competitive football games.
Crescenta Valley, for example, was dominant when it played in the Foothill League, but the Falcons have not defeated Muir since moving into the Pacific League in 1978. Crescenta Valley has defeated Arcadia once and scored a victory over Pasadena last season for the first time in nine years.
This season Crescenta Valley opens league play against a Muir team that will play a monster preleague schedule against Palmdale, Fontana, Banning, Bishop Amat and Servite.
Tyree, who coached at Palo Verde High in Blythe before moving to Muir last season, said speed, or lack of same at Glendale schools, causes the imbalance in the league.
“Enrollment is not the problem,” Tyree said. “It boils down to a lack of speed.
“The guy at Hoover does a great job. They run the same offense we do, but we set the grass on fire and they wear it out.
“It’s not so much that we’re so fast, but some of the schools in our league have a total lack of speed.”
Crescenta Valley Coach Jim Beckenhauer agrees.
“It’s hard to compete with their speed,” he said. “But I think Glendale is capable of giving them a battle this season.”
Indeed, led by speedy junior running back Pathon Rucker, Glendale might have one of its finest teams in years.
Pasadena Coach Gary Griffiths said it could be the beginning of a more competitive trend.
“The cycle is always going to come around,” he said, “it’s just a matter of when.”
In the meantime, Glendale-area schools might have to find success and solace in other athletic endeavors.
“You can look at it a couple of ways,” Tyree said. “They beat our brains out in girls’ softball.”
FINAL 1989 STANDINGS PROJECTED FINISH Arcadia 9-2, 5-0 Muir Muir 11-1-2, 4-1 Pasadena Crescenta Valley 6-5, 2-3 Glendale Pasadena 2-7-1, 2-3 Arcadia Glendale 4-6, 1-4 Crescenta Valley Hoover 1-9, 1-4 Hoover
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Player School Pos. Ht Wt Class Hank Curtis Muir OL-DL 6-1 251 Sr. Sedrick Collins Muir LB-DB 6-1 215 Sr. Jhayson Hall Pasadena RB 6-1 230 Sr. Demetrice Martin Muir QB-DB 5-10 175 Sr. Hasan McCullough Muir DB 5-10 180 Sr. Albert Ocon Glendale OL 6-2 250 Sr. Reggie Reser Muir DB-RB 5-11 175 Sr. Pathon Rucker Glendale RB 5-8 170 Jr. Fred Sayegh Muir DL-OL 6-2 263 Sr. Neil Voskerichian Arcadia K 5-7 155 Sr.