Last year's disappointments behind them, Clovis Buchanan and San Mateo Serra kick off the 2006 season at Saturday.
The zero week showdown is at Serra's Jesse Freitas Field.
Buchanan hasn't had a winning
season since 2002, but has the misfortune of playing in the rough-and-tumble
Tri-River Athletic Conference. That loop includes intra-district rivals
``We have higher hopes for this season, but we do play in a good league,'' Bears coach Mike Vogt said. ``People in the Bay Area don't know much about us, but we have some pretty good teams in our league, just from our own school district alone.''
Tailback Lamford Mark (6-1, 185) gained more than 900 yards last season despite missing two games and he's back.
Other Bears to watch are wideout Marcus Russell (19 catches last season) and offensive guard Jory Mason (6-3, 260).
Vogt will alternate quarterbacks, with senior Trevor Smith and junior Jake Henderson both taking snaps.
Defensively, Buchanan will have to get by without linebacker Brennan Gowens, while linebacker Miguel Sanchez is questionable. Both have back problems.
Serra is trying to rebound from a tumultuous 2005 season that was just about over before it began.
Before the season four key players were expelled after an off-campus incident. Included was the Padre quarterback and the 2004 West Catholic Athletic League sophomore of the year, a running back now playing at Woodside.
Stunned by that thunderbolt, Serra coach Patrick Walsh also did some investigating and kicked three more players off the team. During the season nine more fell by the wayside, for a variety of reasons.
Expected to be a playoff team, Serra staggered to a 3-7 record.
Walsh said it was vital to re-set the bar, discipline-wise, following the expulsions.
``I just had to emphasize that we're outstanding citizens first and a football team second,'' he said. ``Obviously it worked because this is the first season we're going in with nobody on suspension.''
Serra has gone back to the spread
option in a big way this season, with just a little
double-wing sprinkled in.
The backfield is gifted with running back Tiuke Tuipoloto, fullback Jeff Thomas and left-handed sophomore quarterback Cody Jackson, a talented thrower and runner.
Also, junior running back Deleon
Eskridge has transferred to the
Other Padre standouts are linebacker J.P. Hurrell, linebacker Nick Tuipoloto and offensive lineman Derek Carthy.