Season openers: from tough to ho-hum

While there is little doubt the area high school football team facing
area’s most difficult opening game challenge is St. Paul, there are
several others who will need to have their ducks in a row in order to
get off on the right foot this season.

Always adjustable before game time, here’s a ranking of what appears
to be a list of formidable season openers for the locals (opponents are
evaluated relative to area teams’ potential):
1. St. Paul at Servite: Swordsmen are hopeful for successful following their
division championship season, but Servite bigger, stronger, faster, just
better. This game better for St. Paul in Week 3 or 4.

2. Tesoro at La Mirada: Tesoro’s tried and proven program ahead of
Matadores’ rebuilding/revamping program

3. Pioneer at Charter Oak: Kudos to Titans coach Ramon Juarez for
major upgrades in preleague scheduling this season (including St. Paul),
but this season opener appears a bit ambitious.

4. El Rancho at West Covina: A new coach is always reason for
heightened optimism among the faithful, and Rick Zepeda clearly is a
legitimate reason for it in this case, but El Rancho’s best opportunity
may come if the host Bulldogs are looking past them to Week 2.

5. Warren at Santa Fe: Even in a down year for Warren, the Bears will
be a challenge for a Chiefs team trying to rebound from a sub-.500

6. Schurr at Burbank Burroughs: Schurr has new coach (Ben Negrete)
and a new system, and while the top QB (Rick Mendez) and RB (Edwin
Molina) return, the offensive line is suspect, making the Spartans a
mystery team.

7. Bell Gardens at Whittier: As usual, Bell Gardens figures to make
it a very physical game against young Cardinals.

8. La Habra at Downey: Host Vikings’ experience playing in rugged San
Gabriel Valley League is biggest asset. La Habra concern might be in
taking Downey too lightly.

9. Montebello at Norwalk: Norwalk only No. 13 in preseason division
rankings, but Montebello coming off a 2-8 season with too many question

10. John Glenn at La Serna: Lancers faithful expecting big things,
and while those expectations might be over-inflated, the visiting Eagles
shouldn’t be a damper for the opener.

11. California at Rowland: Hopefully the cupboard has enough
leftovers to make defending Del Rio League champion Condors dangerous.
Host Raiders coming off a 3-8 year and rebuilding.

12. Cantwell at Salesian: Host Mustangs picked No. 3 in Santa Fe
League, while visiting Cardinals, behind big o-line and super receiver
Jeffrey Taylor, may be sleeper/spoiler in Camino Real League title

13. Cochrane at Whittier Christian: Not much known about visiting
Colts, but it would be a long way to travel just to be fodder for their
host. Cochrane must adjust from playing 12-man football on a 55-yard
wide field.

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