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METRO CONFERENCE : League’s Depth Starts to Show

TIMES STAFF WRITER

While the North County Conference has been stealing most of the attention paid to high school football, Southbay programs--sshhhh!--have been rebuilding.

The Metro Conference produced three teams with winning records last year. There should be at least five this season.

THE RACE

Top contenders: Chula Vista (11-3), Sweetwater (7-4).

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Could surprise: Southwest (8-3), Castle Park (5-5), Bonita Vista (2-7-1), Hilltop (3-6).

Hoping for improvement: Montgomery (3-6-1), Mar Vista (1-9).

Game of the year: Castle Park at Hilltop, Friday, Oct. 4, 7:30 p.m. This game won’t determine first place, but it will pit the county’s top passing attack against one of the section’s best secondaries.

THE PLAYERS

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The Man: Riley Washington, Southwest running back. Two springs ago as a freshman, Washington ran the fastest 100 meters in the state and then went on and excelled in several national meets during the summer. Washington put track aside this past summer and concentrated on football. He averaged 7.8 yards a carry last year as a sophomore and gained 1,044 yards.

Who will fill Steve Gomez’s shoes. The Chula Vista running back who gained 1,119 yards (8.9 per carry) “is not going to be replaced,” said Coach George Ohnesorgen. But Adrian Wilson and Robert Tirado will vie for Gomez’s position. So far, Wilson has excelled at catching the ball in scrimmages and Tirado has proved a powerful blocker.

Others to watch on offense: Hilltop quarterback Jorge Munoz, who has a year of experience operating the spread offense, one which he manipulated for an average of 227 yards a game. Munoz’s four returning receivers: Bobby Lugo, Colby Popplewell, Richard Hinzo, and Pat Cronin. Bonita Vista wide receiver Mike Daniels, who caught eight passes for 207 yards in the Barons’ season-opening 25-24 loss at Baldwin High in Maui, Hawaii last week. The guy who throws to Daniels, Frank Peralta. Mar Vista quarterback Mel Antunez, who threw for 1,146 yards in eight games last season. Sweetwater fullback Ty Pule, only a junior but “a punishing runner,” promises Coach Gene Alim. Castle Park Running back Anthony Davis, a transfer from Texas where he rushed for 1,300 yards last year. Montgomery quarterback Chuck Acuna, who threw for 909 yards as a sophomore last year.

Others to watch on defense: Southwest nose guard Mike Johnson, an All-CIF pick from last season. Castle Park defensive back Dejuan Franklin, an intimidating cover guy who also takes responsibility of calling Trojans’ defensive plays. Another Castle Park DB, Danny Quilantang who had eight interceptions as a left corner last year. Bonita Vista DB Ryan Yakubik, who is “another coach on the field,” according to Jim Wilson, the coach on the sideline. Sweetwater defensive end Lenny Smith, a sophomore who looks and plays like a senior.

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THE INTANGIBLES

Excuses excused: To ensure his team won’t be making excuses 10 weeks from now, Sweetwater’s Alim is excusing some players now. “We’ve had 20 funerals and 6,000 dentist appointments already,” Alim said. Tired of players skipping practices, Alim already has removed six returning starters from the team.

Poker face: Alan Duke has yet to learn the vital head coach’s role of preseason sandbagger. “We’re going to be very good this year,” he said. “We’re going to be very, very good, and that’s all I’ll say.”


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