Whether it's the talent-studded group of returners, led by quarterback Myles Carr and receiver Taylor Lagace, or the impression made by its strong run through a tough slate of nonleague games, Arcadia seems to wear the biggest target on its back going into the first week of games.
"Arcadia's definitely, on paper, the team to beat," said Crescenta Valley Coach Paul Schilling, whose team won't face the Apaches (2-1) until the final week of the regular season. "Especially after they beat Monrovia. For them to have beat that team makes you think, Uh-oh, they're pretty good.
"A lot of the other teams, you don't really know. This will be a great week for the league to see…We might know some more after this week."
Muir (2-1), which finished tied with Burbank for third place in league last year, will get first crack at an Arcadia team coming off a close loss to St. Francis and convincing wins over Monrovia and Temple City at 7 p.m. Friday at home.
"Right now, Arcadia is standing in our way," said Mustangs Coach Ken Howard, whose team has also looked strong in nonleague play with wins over San Gabriel and Saugus and a loss to Rancho Cucamonga. "They're the defending champs, they're tough again this year and if we want to win league, we'll have to beat them."
Muir was an unknown variable coming into the season with just eight varsity returners, but has proven it has the talent to compete behind highly-touted playmakers Tarien Owens and Kevon Seymour. Perhaps the only downside of Muir's youth movement thus far has been its penchant for costly penalties.