Carter, the team most named as the league favorite, is 2-3 and has lost two consecutive games. Cajon also is 2-3, but has dropped three straight. And those are the teams SAL coaches are saying are the ones to beat. San Andreas League football teams aren’t exactly on a wave of momentum heading into the league season tonight. The six teams were a combined 7-23 in nonleague play. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week Other possible contenders haven’t fared any better, with Arroyo Valley 0-5 and San Gorgonio 2-3. Still, there is reason for optimism, league coaches say. “I think Carter is the favorite and then it’s wide open after that,” San Gorgonio coach Randy Stevens said. “Cajon has played some good teams and is 2-3. They played Kaiser tough and didn’t get blown out.” Arroyo Valley won the title last season, but doesn’t have stars such as Michael Coleman (now at USC) and Justin Marvel (UNLV). The Hawks still have talent, but Arroyo Valley coach Tony DiThomas isn’t beating his chest at this point. “It’s Carter and everyone else,” DiThomas said. “Carter had a lot of returning kids who have played in that system. And San (Gorgonio) and Cajon could be teams to beat, too.” The SAL’s early season woes have prompted talk again of whether the league belongs in Division V of the CIF-Southern Section for football, or whether it should be dropped to Division VIII. “You’ll never hear me say that we can’t play teams in a higher division,” DiThomas said. “You always want to play the best that you can. But it wouldn’t bother me if they put us in ‘D8.’ “ Said Carter coach Mike Churchill, who won a pair of CIF titles at Riverside Poly in the early 1980s: “It’s not for me to say where CIF should put us. I don’t understand a lot of what CIF does anyway. Money seems to be the determining factor most of the time.” Churchill further opined that a preoccupation with standardized test scores, as opposed to emphasizing the whole student, has hindered some athletic programs. “The Mountain View League is in D5 and didn’t used to be the toughest, but they certainly are now,” Churchill said. “They’re good schools that emphasize academics and athletics and now they’re beating up on everybody else.” Here is a rundown of the SAL teams: ARROYO VALLEY The Hawks have struggled defensively, giving up 39.5 points per game. They had woes against the pass early in the season and against the run of late. But they get some behemoths on the line back this week. Quarterback Anthony Wyrick (four touchdowns, nine interceptions) is settling down after a rocky start and has a good report with wide receiver Dustin Blount (27 catches, 650 yards). CARTER The Lions have lost to three quality teams in Cathedral City, Vista Murrieta and Los Osos. They’ll have to hold onto the ball better than last week when they committed five turnovers against Los Osos. RB Dorian Penn is Carter’s biggest offensive threat and A.J. Nichols is a returning, first-team all-leaguer at offensive tackle. CAJON The Cowboys opened the season with victories against Silverado and Fontana, but have dropped three consecutive, to Sultana, Kaiser and Alta Loma. Each of those teams are contenders in their own leagues, with Kaiser always a threat for a CIF D8 title. QB Cedric Greene and RB/DB General Parnell lead Cajon. PACIFIC The Pirates routed Garey 48-0, but have otherwise scored just 21 points. Pacific had a problem with players missing practice before a 44-6 loss to Bloomington (coach Randy Jensen benched several players), but hopes it has that ironed out. Running back D.J. Richardson is a player to watch. SAN BERNARDINO The Cardinals have scored just 14 points combined in four games since losing 41-30 to Hesperia in its opener. Coach Marcus Soward thinks the nonleague season has been beneficial. He is counting heavily upon transfer running back Jerrayl Hamilton to pace the offense and cornerback Shermond Johnson on defense. SAN GORGONIO The Spartans have some talent, but lack experience. That has resulted in too many turnovers and defensive miscues, the latter resulting in three long Apple Valley touchdowns last week. Running back/defensive back Jeremiah Wortham is a player to watch. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!