Much like the upcoming election, trying to predict the winner of this year's Pacific League football race may very well be futile.
On a seemingly weekly basis, one candidate looks specifically better than another only to have that same aspirant suffer a setback.
As Pacific League action begins Thursday, with Burbank hosting Hoover at 7 p.m. in the first league game at renovated Memorial Field, it's easy to say the league hasn't looked great.
In fact, the Pacific League has tallied a 6-18 combined nonleague record.
Part of the reasoning behind the record could be explained in the loss of talent from the previous year.
Gone are Arcadia's Myles Carr (Fresno State), Taylor Lagace (UCLA) and Robbie Haines (Citrus College), Burrough's Zander Anding and Lester Quintana (both at Pasadena City College), Crescenta Valley's Marro Lee (University of Redlands) and Pavle Atanackovic (UC Irvine), Muir's Kevon Seymour (USC), Tairen Owens (PCC) and Denzel Talifero (transferred to Duarte), to name a few.
Yet, the records and loss of star power have given rise to a different attitude about the league, one in which there are no favorites and everyone has a sporting chance.
"Now everyone is 0-0 to start league. Not only do we start league, but we start going to Muir High School," said Crescenta Valley Coach Paul Schilling, whose team finished 4-3 in league last season, tied for third, and lost in the first round of the playoffs at La Mirada. "CV has beat Muir one time at their place in history, in 2004, so we are trying to repeat that."
The Falcons (2-1) are only one of two league teams to escape the nonleague season with a winning mark, with victories over Santa Paula (26-21) and La Cañada (48-21) serving as book ends to a 27-7 defeat at San Marino.
As in years past, the Falcons' offense runs through its ground attack with senior William Wang having rushed 70 times for 507 yards and four touchdowns behind one of the league's biggest lines.
If Crescenta Valley is to make a move this season and capture the program's first league title since 2004, the Falcons will need to play their best football over the next month as they face Pasadena, Burroughs and Burbank after opening at Muir on Friday at 7 p.m.
"These next four weeks, we just told our kids, are huge," Schilling said. "Those four games, if you talk to me in four weeks, we'll have a good feeling if we have a shot.
'If I had to put my money on it, I am always going to bet on us."
The surprise of the league may very well be Hoover (2-1), which has already won more games this season than in the last two combined.
"It's wide open right now," said Tornadoes Coach Andrew Policky, whose squad was winless last year. "I have no idea who you could call a favorite. This is really a year I feel where a lot of teams could win it. If you had a gun to my head, I guess I would say Muir."
Policky's squad opened the season with a 46-0 win over Blair, followed by a 33-28 upset victory versus South Pasadena. Hoover, though, fell on the opposite side of an upset when it lost to Temple City Thursday, 15-14.
Like Crescenta Valley, Hoover's success is built from the ground up, as the team averaged 307.5 yards per game in its two victories, but only rushed for 120 yards in its defeat.
"We're just gonna take it one game at a time," Policky said. "We're not gonna throw any numbers out there. We're focused on Burbank right now and nothing else."
Glendale (1-2) and Burbank (1-2) are the only other teams in league with a win this season and open with interesting games.
The Nitros, who finished 1-6 last season and seventh in league, host banged-up Pasadena on Friday at 7 p.m. while Burbank collides with Hoover.