1997 RECORD: 8-4 overall, 4-1 in league
COACH: Mitch Olson (73-48-3 at school)
RETURNING STARTERS: 3 on offense, 3 on defense
Mark Cook, QB/LB, 6-0, 185, Sr.; Joe Magallanes, RB/OLB, 5-9, 175, Sr.; Steve Mao, OG/DT, 5-11, 255, Sr.; Elwin Maradiaga, OLB, 5-11, 180, Sr.; Brian Phipps, RB/LB, 5-11, 185, Sr.; Clifford Scott, OT/DT, 6-3, 265, Jr.; Ahmad Wright, WR/DB, 5-11, 175, Sr.
Louis Frausto, OT/DT, 6-3, 275, Sr.; Jaiya Howze, WR/CB, 5-9, 170, So.; Tim Reed, WR/FS, 5-11, 175, Jr.; Nick Tucker, OG/LB, 6-0, 190, Jr.
Olson returns only six starters, but those thinking he won't have Kennedy in the league-title chase don't know their history. The Fighting Irish have won three Empire titles since joining the league four years ago. This year's team isn't one of Olson's most talented, but it might be one of his more cohesive groups. "We're really together," Olson said. "There aren't cliques on this team. That's what I think will make us successful." What could hurt the Irish is the transfer of junior quarterback Don Wilson to Santa Margarita. Wilson's departure moves Cook, a second team all-league linebacker, into the starting quarterback spot and leaves the linebacking corps a little thin. One of the biggest surprises of the summer was Howze, who played on the freshman team last year. Howze, whose uncle Aracion Mobley was a three-year starter for Olson in the early 1990s, will start at cornerback, return punts and rotate in as one of five receivers. "We didn't know he'd come through like this," Olson said. "He's steady already." Mao and Magallanes are returning first-team all-leaguers on offense.
Sept. 11 vs. Savanna at Western HS; 18 vs. Santa Ana Valley at Santa Ana Stadium; 25 at Montebello.
Oct. 2 vs. Valencia at Western HS; 8 vs. Buena Park at Western HS; 16 vs. Cypress at Western HS; 23 vs. Loara at Glover Stadium; 29 vs. El Dorado at Western HS.
Nov. 7 vs. Century at Santa Ana Stadium; 13 vs. Katella at Western HS.