A blistering heat is expected to hit locally this weekend.
As temperatures rise, football fans hope that the quarterback play will be just as hot on Saturday in the 20th annual Battle at the Beach at Edison High.
The seven-on-seven passing tournament features top-notch high school programs, including a heavy-dose of Orange County’s foremost athletic conference in the Trinity League.
Reigning CIF State Open Division champion Mater Dei comes in as the class of the competition, and the Monarchs are joined by league rivals JSerra, Orange Lutheran and Bellflower St. John Bosco.
In addition to the Monarchs, three other state finalists will be in the field — Harbor City Narbonne (Division 1A champion), Gardena Serra (Division 2AA champion) and San Bernardino Cajon (Division 2AA runner-up).
Add Lancaster Paraclete, a Division 1A regional finalist whom Narbonne beat, and this tournament is stacked with teams that made deep playoff runs the year before.
Edison has many questions to be answered. The dynamic connection of quarterback Griffin O’Connor and wide receiver David Atencio has graduated, leaving the Chargers to find new pieces to put points on the board.
Chargers coach Jeff Grady said that incoming senior Patrick Angelovic will be taking the snaps for his team.
Of course, some decisions will not be finalized until much later. When this tournament came around last year, O’Connor had committed to UNLV, but he wound up changing his mind in picking Yale.
As it relates to this year’s Edison squad, the wide receiver competition is wide open.
Grady said that Cole Koffler, Nathan Nabal, Nicholas Frengel, Isaiah Palmer, Jacob Biddle and Dane Brenton will all be part of the rotation at receiver on Saturday.
The Edison secondary also needs reinforcements, but the Chargers do return experience at linebacker. Incoming seniors Luke Hoggard and Cameron Eden anchor the defense.
“We’ll have a new crew of guys,” Grady said. “Guys who have really kind of worked hard their whole careers here.”
High-end college recruits will be participating on both sides of the ball in the tournament.
Orange Lutheran’s Ryan Hilinski may be the best quarterback in Southern California. The 6-foot-4 incoming senior is a four-star recruit who has committed to the University of South Carolina.
Hilinski will be throwing to incoming senior Kyle Ford, an uncommitted receiver with good size at 6-2. Ford has also been rated as a four-star prospect by ESPN.
Other quarterbacks of note include Arizona State commit Joey Yellen (Mission Viejo).
Top defensive backs among competing teams include St. John Bosco’s Chris Steele and Serra’s Max Williams.
A report on MaxPreps.com said that Steele will be making his college decision on his birthday, this Saturday.
Valencia has Oregon-committed cornerback Mykael Wright, but Vikings coach Larry Muir was unsure on Friday if Wright would be a participant. Two-way incoming senior Jayvaun Wilson is another to watch from the Vikings.
Mater Dei will be bringing two future junior standouts in quarterback Bryce Young and cornerback Elias Ricks. Monarchs coach Bruce Rollinson said that he also plans to deploy future seniors Shakobe Harper and Sean Dollars at running back.
“I think it’s great,” Grady said of the talent present at the tournament. “Like I said, we’re playing against the best of the best. It’s an elite passing league tournament, and I think everyone is going to benefit from it.”
The first games will begin at 9 a.m. Edison will be part of a five-team pool that also includes La Puente Bishop Amat, Corona Centennial, Downey and JSerra. Each team will play every team within its pool once, with the games lasting 30 minutes.
At the end of pool play, the top two teams in each pool will advance to the Gold Bracket playoffs, while the third- and fourth-place teams in each pool will move on to the Silver Bracket playoffs.
Battle at the Beach
Where: Edison High
When: Saturday. The first games begin at 9 a.m.
Fan info: Admission to the passing tournament is free, but parking is $5. A snack bar will have food and drinks available on site.
Fields 1 & 2
La Puente Bishop Amat
Fields 3 & 4
San Bernardino Cajon
San Marcos Mission Hills
Fields 5 & 6
Covina Charter Oak
Bellflower St. John Bosco
Fields 7 & 8
Los Angeles Cathedral
San Diego Cathedral Catholic
Harbor City Narbonne