When asked for a realistic expectation for his Saugus football team, quarterback Nathan Eldridge didn’t supply an outrageous answer.
The Centurions, he said, planned to do better than they did last year.
Apparently, CIF-Southern Section coaches agree.
Saugus stood atop the Division 6 rankings when the section debuted its polls Monday. This after the Centurions advanced to the D6 quarterfinals last year and lost to Wilson of Long Beach on a failed two-point conversion in the closing seconds.
In 2017, Eldridge returns to lead an untested but talented bunch.
“I think we can definitely (do better than last year),” Eldridge said. “I know we have some tough teams in the preseason this year, but I’m pretty positive we can go undefeated in the preseason and hopefully pull out (wins) during league, too.”
Monday’s polls showed just how difficult the latter task might be. Valencia came in at No. 4 in Division 2. Hart was eighth in D3, Golden Valley was third in D6 and West Ranch was seventh in D9.
The initial rankings also speak specifically to how brutal Division 2 is. Valencia reached the division’s semifinals last season before losing to eventual-state-champion San Clemente.
The Vikings return 14 starters and gobs of explosion, yet they found themselves behind Edison of Huntington Beach, Oaks Christian of Westlake Village and Norco, in that order.
Calabasas and Upland tied for the division’s fifth spot. The Vikings travel to play Calabasas on Sept. 28 in a rematch of last season’s meeting at Valencia.
The Vikings led 21-16 at half, but lost 37-21.
Valencia opens 2017 on Sept. 1 at Palmdale.
On the same night, Hart opens at College of the Canyons against Downey.
The Indians remained in Division 3 this season, where Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth was the No. 1 ranked team Monday.
Golden Valley more than held its own against Sierra Canyon in a scrimmage Thursday. The Grizzlies feature equally explosive offensive and defensive units.
The play of whoever starts at quarterback between Logan Morrison, Zach Chevalier and Gary Rowe and the eligibility of transfer DeGabriel Floyd will go a long way in determining how prominent a contender the Grizzlies are in Division 6 after reaching the Division 7 semis last year.
Golden Valley coach Dan Kelley said Monday that Floyd’s request for an appeal had been sent.
Floyd is currently ineligible for 18 months in all CIF sections after being ruled in violation of one of the “transfer rules” when he played at Hawkins High of Los Angeles, according to CIF Los Angeles City Section Commissioner John Aguirre.
Kelley has said he is positive Floyd will be cleared through the appeal process and play football for Golden Valley in 2017.
Saugus and Golden Valley play at Canyon on Oct. 6.
No. 4 Valencia
No. 8 Hart
No. 1 Saugus
No. 3 Golden Valley
No. 7 West Ranch