On a pleasant, overcast Saturday in Huntington Beach, there were so many quality teams and players competing in the 20-team Edison passing tournament that fans became energized, Internet recruiting writers became enthralled and players became determined to celebrate with leaping chest bumps after touchdowns.
The championship game matching Newhall Hart and Arizona State-bound quarterback Brady White against Bellflower St. John Bosco and UCLA-bound quarterback Josh Rosen was a fitting conclusion to a day filled with oohs and aahs.
There was no tackling allowed, but that didn't prevent at least two players from sustaining concussions and Hart safety Blake Fall from looking as if he were cut by barbed wire, with scratches on his left shoulder after competing against a Gardena Serra player.
“The corner doesn't clip his nails,” Fall said with a grin.
With only three weeks before the start of official high school football practice, it's clear the excitement is building. Anaheim Servite quarterback Travis Waller and Long Beach Poly defensive back Iman Marshall showed up just to watch. That's how good the competition was.
Hart won the championship and went 6-0 because no team was able to figure out how to stop White and his best friend, receiver Trent Irwin. Irwin is being recruited by Arizona State and Stanford and still hasn't decided. He's about as technically perfect running patterns as any high school receiver in California.
Hart has another intriguing player in sophomore safety Nick Moore. It was in 2001 that Moore used to run around the Hart field in diapers when his brother, Matt, now with the Miami Dolphins, was playing quarterback for the Indians.
“I'm called the ‘Diaper Kid,'” Nick said. “I'm trying to make a name for myself.”
Hart's roster is filled with players who've grown up in their neighborhood seemingly forever. White's father, Deron, was an All-CIF guard at Hart in the 1980s.
“You have pride in the name across your chest,” Brady White said.
St. John Bosco, which went 16-0 last season, is loaded again. Jared Harrell, a junior receiver and the younger brother of former Loyola High basketball standout Julian Harrell, is ready to become a star.
“He's amazing,” Rosen said.
And you had to drop by Edison on Friday to see the Braves' quarterback of the future. Freshman Re-al Mitchell is an A student with blazing speed and a strong arm and led the Braves to the freshman passing title.
“He's unbelievable,” said Coach Jason Negro.
Serra was a surprise Saturday. It made it to the semifinals while using two quarterbacks, junior Khalil Tate and senior Caleb Wilson. The Cavaliers' best player in the morning was receiver Deontay Burnett, who was catching touchdowns in bunches until having to go to the hospital emergency room because of a concussion.
Junior quarterback Malik Henry of Westlake Village Westlake was firing pinpoint passes all day and leaving recruiting writers scrambling to learn his college favorites. USC, UCLA, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Michigan, Michigan State — they all want Henry.
Santa Margarita junior quarterback K.J. Costello got his team into the semifinals without his top receiver, Kyle Sweet, who was injured.
It was quite a day for football.
“It's fun being out there with all the dudes” is how Irwin put it.