FOOTBALL ’91 : THE HIGH SCHOOLS: SOUTHERN SECTION : MISSION LEAGUE : Alemany
COACH: Pat Blackburn, 4th season
LAST SEASON: 4-5; 4th in league, 3-3
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Coaches have long memories, and those who played the Indians last season are quick to recall that the team had plenty of young talent. Alemany is ranked fifth in the Southern Section Division III preseason coaches poll, and it is easy to see why. Tailback Terry Barnum, who has committed to play next season at USC, has been named to several preseason All-American teams. Barnum (5-foot-10, 180 pounds) rushed for 1,158 yards and 14 touchdowns last season, averaging 6.3 yards a carry. Richard Dice (6-3, 205), who caught 50 passes for 818 yards and scored 10 touchdowns as a junior tight end, also has made several All-American lists. Dice, who runs 4.5 in the 40, is the leading returning receiver among area Southern Section players. This year, he will play wide receiver and also will start at safety. Quarterback Adam Romandi (5-10, 170) passed for 1,361 yards and 13 touchdowns as a junior and completed 56.1% of his passes. He ranked 10th in yardage among area Southern Section passers. Dewey Reed (6-1, 275), Paul Sauter (6-2, 245) and Jose Ontiveros (6-1, 235) anchor an offensive line that averages 240 pounds. The Indians allowed an average of 303.8 yards a game last year but several starters are back, including senior linebackers Mark Benitez (6-0, 185) and Bryan Towers (6-1, 195). Steve Lopez (6-1, 195), a two-year starter, returns on the defensive line alongside Sauter and Pete Rios (6-2, 245). Tom Romandi, Adam’s identical twin, returns in the secondary. He had five interceptions a year ago.
OUTLOOK: In each of Alemany’s three league losses last season, the team blew a halftime lead. “We gave up too many big plays,” Blackburn said. If the defense can perform, Alemany should post some great numbers. The Indians had aerial success over the summer, winning the Hart 7-on-7 passing tournament. Barnum and Dice are among the best in the nation at their positions. Romandi has experience and is improving daily. “The best thing about Romandi is his experience,” Blackburn said. “We’re counting on that.”
COACH: Rich Lawson, 5th season
LAST SEASON: 1-8-1; 7th in league, 0-6
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Last season’s disappointments left Lawson stunned. “It was tough,” he said. “I’d never experienced anything like that. I don’t think I’d ever lost eight hands of poker before.” In short, the whole season should be royally flushed. Chaminade will count on a pair of holdovers to right the ship. Ted Corcoran (6-3, 220) returns for his senior year at tight end, linebacker and kicker. Travis Hall (6-3, 210) started two games at quarterback last season and is expected to provide leadership. Lawson expects junior tailback Justin Giovannettone (5-7, 160) to lead the rebirth of the ground game. Jason Adal (6-0, 240) started on the defensive line as a junior and will move to offense this year. Matt Klawitter (5-10, 215) returns to start at center. Defensively, lineman Jung Lee (6-0, 235) and linebacker Jason Morey (6-0, 200) join Corcoran as the team’s veteran stoppers. John Lucas (5-10, 165), up from the junior varsity, has shined in the secondary.
OUTLOOK: The defense, which allowed a respectable 234.7 yards a game last year, looks solid. Yet an offense that finished fifth-to-last among area Southern Section schools (172.8 average) still needs a lift. “Defensively, we look pretty good,” Lawson said. “Offensively, the timing is still off.” The addition of former North Hollywood Coach Fred Grimes as an assistant could help Lawson turn the tide.
COACH: Tim Lins, 3rd season
LAST SEASON: 8-3; 2nd in league, 5-1
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Once again Crespi is poised to challenge for a league title. The majority of the offensive backfield returns, led by senior quarterback Cody Smith. Smith (6-2, 220) passed for 1,905 yards and 18 touchdowns in 1990 to rank third among area Southern Section players. He threw only five interceptions. Junior tailback Torie Lee (5-7, 175), who rushed for 709 yards and four touchdowns last year, will be joined by sophomore fullback Deron McElroy (5-11, 185). Joe Ruggiero (5-11, 165) will start at receiver, but it is tight end Alex Pupich (6-4, 190) who could prove to be Smith’s main target. The offensive line is the domain of returning starters Eryk Simmons (6-2, 265), an all-league player, and Jeff Flohr (6-5, 265). Jim Olguin (6-0, 235), another all-league player, will play on the defensive line alongside Simmons and Pupich. Crespi’s offensive and defensive lines average 230 pounds. “It’s the biggest line we’ve had in a while,” Lins said. Brian Getz (6-0, 205) returns at linebacker with smallish position mates James Caldero (5-9, 195), Mark Hollenbeck (5-10, 190), Mike Glendenning (5-10, 180) and Chris Davis (5-9, 175). Dereck Williams (6-2, 175) is the main cog of the secondary.
OUTLOOK: “We’ll have a lot more guys playing both ways, and that’s a concern,” Lins said. “But we have virtually the whole backfield back, so that helps.” Smith should challenge Hart’s Ryan Connors and Royal’s Ryan Fien for the area passing lead.
COACH: Kevin Rooney, 12th season
LAST SEASON: 6-4-1; 3rd in league, 4-1-1
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Returning players are few and far between. In fact, Notre Dame may feel graduation’s sting more than any other team in the league. Darren Firestone (6-1, 180) will start at quarterback, and though he is green, he has the tools. “He’s got a real strong arm and he runs well,” Rooney said. “He’s a solid quarterback.” The rest of the offensive backfield isn’t nearly as settled. “We still need to find a running back,” Rooney said. Scott Nunez (5-9, 160) and Jasen McConaghy (5-10, 160) will start at receiver. Steve Mullins (6-0, 180) is a possible breakthrough player at tight end. A pair of returning starters on the offensive line, Scott Burns (6-0, 205) and Chris Russell (5-11, 180), may be the team’s best players. Jeff Pestano (5-9, 180) starts at outside linebacker and Greg Winter (5-10, 170) is a returning starter on the defensive line. Morgan Bennett (6-0, 170) is expected to anchor the secondary.
OUTLOOK: “Defensively, I think we’ll be a better team than we were last year,” Rooney said. “We don’t have the Division I players that we had in the past, but it’s a faster team.”