On a cloudless Saturday afternoon in Huntington Beach, the Narbonne Gauchos sent a powerful message to Southland football teams that they plan to proudly represent the City Section this fall against any and all challengers.
There were no pads or linemen in sight, but what Narbonne accomplished in winning the 20-team Edison passing tournament provides ample evidence that the Gauchos are in position to be one of the top five teams in Southern California.
Knocking off Santa Ana Mater Dei and St. John Bosco in consecutive games, then beating Los Alamitos, 30-6, in the championship game tells the story of a team loaded with top skill position players. Ten of 11 starters are back on offense from the City Section championship team.
And the defense isn't too bad, either. The linebacking group made up of senior Lawson Hall and sophomores Raymond Scott and Darien Butler will be off the charts. On Saturday, safety Jamal Hicks had five interceptions and Daniel Brown had four interceptions.
Receiver Tre Walker made some huge catches, and quarterbacks Roman Ale and Jalen Chatman had no trouble making pressure throws.
"It's been a good summer," Coach Manuel Douglas said.
Now he must prepare his team for the real season ahead, starting with a Sept. 4 opener against Long Beach Poly.
There were lots of standouts on a day that featured the best taking on the best.
No one was better than Corona Centennial receiver Javon McKinley. He truly looked like a man among boys. When teams tried to double-cover him, it only created opportunities for teammates.
"He's special," Oaks Christian defensive coordinator Richard Fong said. "Our best chance of stopping him is sacking the quarterback, and we can't do that."
USC-bound receiver Michael Pittman of Oaks Christian also had his moments of domination.
St. John Bosco quarterback Quentin Davis was efficient and effective for most of the day, but he and his teammates seemed to tire out at the end, getting shut out by Narbonne in the semifinals.
Los Alamitos had lots of contributors, from quarterback Jack Telenko to cornerback Darien Cornay, who many will hear about in the fall. He missed all but one game last season because of a broken collarbone, but he's returning with a vengeance. He had three interceptions on the day. "I'm excited," he said about his return from injury.
Mater Dei is poised to make an impact, especially after the arrival of the St. Brown brothers from Servite, Osiris and Amon-Ra. Osiris played on Saturday but Amon-Ra was unavailable because of an injury.
Bishop Amat didn't make the championship bracket, weakened because of the absence of Trevon Sidney and Tyler Vaughns, who were late arriving from Oregon after competing at The Opening. But when they were back, the Lancers knocked off Mater Dei.
Charter Oak has a big-time player in Cal commit Zion Echols.
Loyola made it to the semifinals because of outstanding play from its secondary featuring David Long, Jordan Riordan, Myles Bryant, Kelly Blake and David Tolbert. Long wasn't 100% physically but kept playing and demonstrated a toughness that a future college team will like.
The seven-on-seven season is coming to an end. Huntington Beach High will host a tournament next Saturday that includes St. John Bosco, Crespi, Bishop Amat and San Clemente.
Narbonne will get some time off before officially starting practice on July 27. Don't think the Gauchos won't be even better with their linemen.
"We're big and physical up front," Douglas said.
Now, if only receiver Stephon Robinson can work on his back flips. He did one after catching a touchdown pass in the final game. The referee threw a penalty flag. Narbonne players giggled and laughed. They had every right to be smiling on Saturday.