As the high school football season reaches the midway point, let's look at some of the local players who are living up to or exceeding expectations.
One of the most intriguing is 6-foot-3, 195-pound senior receiver Brycen Tremayne of Venice.
"Brycen has been incredible," coach Angelo Gasca said. "The thing that impresses me the most is his character. He brings it every play, every single game — games, practice, classroom."
Tremayne is averaging 18.0 yards a reception and has 10 touchdowns in six games. He made five touchdown catches last week against Westchester.
Few knew about his receiving skills before this season. That's because for three years at Los Angeles Windward, he was forced into playing quarterback after injuries sidelined the first-stringers. He caught one touchdown pass.
Tremayne left Windward this year when it went to eight-man football.
"It's pretty crazy," he said. "I got more touchdowns than I did in my whole career at Windward. To come here and in one game have five is pretty unreal."
Tremayne is being courted by Harvard but the growing recognition of how good a player he is could lead to a recruiting battle. He's getting A's in marine biology, government and advanced placement courses in statistics, literature and studio art.
Locally, the receiver position might be the strongest of all this season. There are many impact players.
Lance Babb of Montebello Schurr has 47 receptions for 722 yards and six touchdowns. Marquis Spiker of Murrieta Valley has caught 16 touchdown passes. Sophomore Johnny Wilson of Calabasas has seven touchdown catches and is averaging nearly 20 yards a reception.
The Santa Ana Mater Dei foursome of Amon-ra St. Brown, CJ Parks, Nikko Remigio and Bru McCoy have a combined 18 touchdown catches. Junior Taj Davis of Upland is averaging 25.1 yards per catch.
At quarterback, the big surprises have been Jaden Casey of Calabasas and Jonathan Martin of Culver City.
Casey was injured as a freshman but has stepped in as a sophomore to lead the Coyotes to a 6-0 start. He had eight touchdown passes against Valencia and has passed for 1,730 yards with two interceptions. Martin has passed for 2,075 yards and 28 touchdowns with three interceptions.
Junior Jayden Daniels of Cajon has completed 77% of his passes for 2,037 yards and 27 touchdowns. Junior Ryan Hilinski of Orange Lutheran has 16 touchdown passes with one interception.
Among offensive linemen, there are college coaches who gladly would take Mater Dei's five-man group, led by Tommy Brown and Chris Murray. Tackle Dylan Kellogg of West Hills Chaminade has taken on defensive ends from Westlake Village Oaks Christian, Bellflower St. John Bosco and Gardena Serra and won the individual duels.
At running back, Tiquan Gilmore of Los Angeles Torres set a City Section record last week with nine touchdowns in a game. He's averaging 20.0 yards per carry with 1,481 yards rushing in five games. Andrew Van Buren of West Hills Chaminade has 14 touchdowns and rushed for 332 yards against Gardena Serra.
Alex Jung of Fullerton Sunny Hills has 1,571 yards rushing and 18 touchdowns. Justin Keeling of Moreno Valley Valley View is at 1,519 yards and 17 touchdowns. Jordan Wilmore of Lawndale has six consecutive games in which he has rushed for more than 170 yards. Al Fisher of unbeaten San Juan Capistrano JSerra is nearing 1,000 yards rushing.
Among pass rushers, Zach Ritner of Mission Viejo Capistrano Valley has 10 sacks. Heavily recruited Kayvon Thibodeaux of Oaks Christian and Abdul-Malik McClain of Santa Margarita have nine and eight sacks, respectively. Cole Aubrey of St. John Bosco is nearing double digits in sacks.
At linebacker, there are few tacklers better than Christian LaValle of Mission Viejo. He exudes toughness and has been credited with 78 tackles. Junior Blake Antzoulatos of Chaminade and Merlin Robertson of Serra have been relentless in chasing ball carriers.
Sophomores Jacobah Fuamatu of La Habra and Justin Flowe of Upland are producing game after game.
At defensive back, a true lockdown cornerback has been Olaijah Griffin of Mission Viejo. Sophomore Clark Phillips of La Habra returned three interceptions for touchdowns in a game. The speedy Cameron Jones of Studio City Harvard-Westlake has five interceptions. Junior Max Williams of Serra is feared as a defender and punt returner.
Among kickers, Jack Morrell of Huntington Beach Edison has nine field goals. Dylan Brady of Santa Margarita has a 55-yard field goal and has been booming kickoffs into the end zone. Thomas Miller of Temecula Valley is averaging 44.2 yards on punts.
And that's just a few of the standouts. There will be more. We're only halfway through the season.