Greg Weiss has been the first name in eight-man football at Faith Baptist of Canoga Park for nearly two decades. Until now. Weiss resigned after guiding one of the more successful programs in Southern California for 16 years, winning four Southern Section Large Division titles and appearing eight times in the championship game along the way. Senior Jared Dennis (6-2, 190) is one of the few returners and will move to quarterback after playing tight end and linebacker last season. Fellow upperclassman John Grayem is back too, and there are not many who look forward to lining up against the 6-4, 290 offensive and defensive lineman. First Lutheran of Sylmar has had little trouble since it joined the Omega League, winning the title each of the past three years after moving from the Heritage League. The postseason, however, is a different story. The Falcons have lost in the first round of the Large Division playoffs three consecutive years. It won’t happen a fourth time though. First Lutheran moves to the Small Division this year. Quarterback Eddie Felix, a 5-10 155-pound transfer from Sylmar, played well last weekend in a scrimmage against defending champion Lighthouse Christian Academy of Santa Monica. Hillcrest Christian of Granada Hills wasted little time in establishing itself in its first season of organized football. The Eagles (5-4) were competitive in the Heritage League, defeating postseason qualifiers First Lutheran and Laton. Hillcrest returns 18 players, including the senior running back tandem of Michael Abourched and Michael Sloat, who has consistently turned in sub-4.5 times in the 40-yard dash. Bethel Christian of Lancaster is experienced – it has 15 players back, including four at the key skill positions – and appears poised to make a run in Desert Sands League play and the Small Division playoffs. Quarterback Josh Thies (5-8, 155) threw for more than 1,700 yards and 17 touchdowns last season and will direct the Eagles’ offense again. His primary targets figure to be tight end Mark Bradley (6-3, 180) and running backs Gabe Cusiu (5-8 170) and Brandon Caldwell (185, 5-10). Playing in the Heritage League is always tough, particularly for L.A. Lutheran of Sylmar, which has struggled recently. But quarterback Adam Rey has been impressive in practice and will be playing behind an experienced offensive line. Quarterback James Sykes (5-11, 185) and receiver Andrew Wheeler (6-2, 170) are as talented as any combination in Omega League play, giving Westmark of Encino a chance to improve its third-place finish from a season ago. — Sean Ceglinsky, (818) 713-3607 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe top 10 theme park moments of 2019 “There’s no real story. It was time for me to move on,” Weiss said. “I loved being at Faith Baptist and would never say a discouraging word. I wish them all the best.” Weiss leaves an impressive team for new coach Tom Greer. The long-time assistant inherits a team returning 11 players from last season’s undefeated (13-0) team that was named the nation’s best by MaxPreps.com. Jonathan Rasmussen, a 6-foot-2 165-pound quarterback, threw for 31 touchdowns and just one interception. He will benefit from playing behind a formidable offensive line, featuring Alex Vault (6-2, 300), Phillip Sturm (6-5, 245), Nathan Frias (6-2, 220) and Dillon Weerasinghe (6-2, 205). “We always tell the kids not to make plans for December,” Greer said. “That’s when the playoffs are. We don’t plan on skipping a beat. We’ll be disappointed if we don’t make it to the title game. We want to keep the tradition alive.” Santa Clarita Christian of Canyon Country advanced to the Large Division quarterfinals last season and the championship game in 2003, but might find it difficult to match the success this time around considering it lost eight starters, among them Stephen Mercier and Orlando Pena, arguably the top two players in the program’s history. “Faith Baptist was blessed to have had the best coach in eight-man football,” athletic director John Rasmussen said. “He’ll be missed.” Weiss is the defensive line coach at Windward of Los Angeles.