First Impressions Say Plenty About Football Season

The first game of the football season usually yields some predictable statements from high school coaches.

Winners smile but grumble that the team still has a lot of work ahead and cannot be content with a 1-0 record. Losers also smile, noting it was only the season opener and there is plenty of time to turn things around.

But the first week can be a good indication of things to come. Some early thoughts about the season ahead:

--Not a true champion: Santa Ana Mater Dei steamrollered through the Southern Section's Division I playoffs last season, routing Rialto Eisenhower in the title game, 35-14. The Monarchs' explosive offense was held to fewer than 20 points only once.

It was a different story last Friday as Mater Dei played a scoreless tie with Anaheim Servite.

The lackluster performance left Coach Bruce Rollinson shaking his head.

"We're going to have to improve offensively, or it's going to be a long, long year," he said.

--Unexpected quarterback contender: The battle to determine the Southland's top quarterback prospect was expected to be between Tim Carey of Los Alamitos and Pat Barnes of Mission Viejo Trabuco Hills. But the unexpected statistical leader is senior Davis Delmatoff of Newhall Hart.

Delmatoff, converted this year from wide receiver, completed 20 of 37 passes for 386 yards and six touchdowns in Hart's 43-6 victory over Pasadena. Three of the pass plays for touchdowns covered 30 yards or more.

Delmatoff is trying to become the seventh consecutive quarterback at Hart to earn all-Southern Section honors.

"If you have any kind of arm whatsoever, you could do pretty well (in our offense)," he said.

Carey and Barnes each played well in opening victories.

--Back and better: Jim Brownfield proved that old coaches can come back.

Returning to Pasadena Muir after a six-year absence, Brownfield led a reorganized Mustang team to a 50-15 victory over Palmdale. Muir's offense produced 290 yards rushing and six touchdowns. The passing game struggled, however.

"It was fun being back on the sidelines," said Brownfield, who led Muir to Southern Section titles in 1985 and '86. "But Palmdale is no Fontana. We'll see what we're made of this week."

The Mustangs play host to highly regarded Fontana Friday night at Pasadena City College.

--A fresh start: Former Muir Coach John Tyree experienced one of his biggest victories Friday.

In his second-year at Riverside Ramona, Tyree's goal this season was to end the school's 14-game losing streak. He and his team did that as the Rams upset San Gorgonio, 14-12. Running back Woodie Leonard scored the winning touchdown on a 22-yard run with four minutes remaining.

Ramona coaches, players and fans broke into tears after the game. Tyree was carried off the field.

"We were down as far as a football team could be," Tyree said. "Things couldn't have gotten any worse. Games like this remind you of what high school football is all about. Our kids had forgotten how great it feels to win.

--A junior star: Recruiters have been muttering about what a down year it is for running backs in the Southland. There is no Eric Bieniemy or Russell White.

Although the senior class might have slim pickings, the junior crop is loaded. At the top of the list is George Keiaho of Ventura. The 5-foot-9, 195-pound tailback was impressive in his season debut, rushing for 415 yards and five touchdowns in 29 carries against Westlake.

With 300 yards by halftime, it appeared that Keiaho would have a shot at breaking the state record of 507 set by David Dotson of Valley View in Moreno Valley last season. But he became more of a decoy in the second half.

"My line had me motivated," he said.

Times' Top 20 Football Poll

The Times' top 20 high school football poll, with teams from the City and Southern Section.

School Sect. Div. Rec. LW 1. Eisenhower SS I 1-0 1 2. Bishop Amat SS I 1-0 2 3. Dorsey City 4-A 0-0 3 4. Fontana SS I 1-0 4 5. Wil. Banning City 4-A 1-0 6 6. Esperanza SS II 1-0 10 7. Loyola SS I 1-0 7 8. Los Alamitos SS II 1-0 8 9. LB Wilson SS I 1-0 9 10. Irvine SS IV 1-0 11 11. Nogales SS III 1-0 14 12. Dominguez SS II 1-0 17 13. Mater Dei SS I 0-0-1 5 14. Hart SS II 1-0 15 15. Mission Viejo SS I 1-0 NR 16. Baldwin Park SS III 1-0 18 17. Tustin SS IV 1-0 19 18. Antelope Valley SS I 1-0 NR 19. Muir SS II 1-0 NR 20. Sylmar City 4-A 0-0 20

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