Varsity Times Insider
High school sports across the Southland
Football: South Gate to rely on running back Lavell Thompson

There's little doubt on who's the best returning player in City Section Division II.

It's running back Lavell Thompson of South Gate. As a junior, he rushed for 2,331 yards and 30 touchdowns in helping the Rams give a real scare to San Fernando.

Thompson is back for his senior year hoping to help the Rams win the title.

"Lavell Thompson is a special player because he has a work ethic to match his athletic ability," Coach Jose Casagran said.




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Football: QB K.J. Costello picks up UCLA offer

Junior quarterback K.J. Costello of Santa Margarita has picked up a scholarship offer from UCLA, according to

The 6-foot-4 Costello is known for his strong arm. UCLA also has an offer out to Westlake junior Malik Henry.

Costello has made lots of improvement this summer.




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Baseball: San Gabriel Valley advances to Babe Ruth World Series

Brian Gadsby from Crescenta Valley threw a complete game and Justin Cage from Glendora had a two-run home run to help San Gabriel Valley defeat Modesto twice and advance to the Babe Ruth 18-and-under World Series in Washington starting Aug. 7.




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Baseball: Behind the scenes with Lucas Giolito

The baseball world is starting to pay attention to the development of former Harvard-Westlake pitcher Lucas Giolito.

He's 6-2 with a 2.34 ERA in Class A ball for the Washington Nationals, and Vice Sports put together a bio video on Giolito and his development in the minor leagues.

He has returned from Tommy John surgery and is having a terrific summer.




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Ex-Sherman Oaks Notre Dame pitcher Nick Fagnano was lightning victim

The Sherman Oaks Notre Dame High School community is in mourning after news that Nick Fagnano, a 2012 grad who who was a pitcher for the baseball team, died Sunday after a lightning strike at Venice Beach. He was 20.

Although Fagnano was not a key player for the Knights, everyone remembers him, Coach Tom Dill said Monday.

"He was the sweetest young man," Dill said. "He was very involved in our Fellowship of Christian Athletes, where you read Bible study at lunch every Friday. Everyone loved this kid. He was an amazing young man with an amazing family. This guy was one of those polite, well-mannered, respectful kids. He was a throwback from 30 years ago on how to talk to adults and how you care for people. He really understood the bigger picture."

Fagnano attended Santa Barbara City College and Santa Monica College last two years.

Former Notre Dame pitcher Tommy Wilson said, "He always had a smile on his face. He was one of the nicest kids I ever met. He had such a positive impact on...

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Football: Bell is excited about 6-4 quarterback Redani Diaz

Bell Coach Frank Medina was raving about his team's 6-foot-4 senior quarterback, Redani Diaz, at Saturday's City Section coaches' meeting.

Diaz passed for 1,831 yards and 21 touchdowns as a junior. He has been a varsity starter since his sophomore year.

"Everything I see so far at practice and seven on seven, he shows he's really going to break out," Medina said.




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Football: College gear banned at Loyola practices

When football practice begins next week at Loyola High, Coach Marvin Sanders, a former USC assistant, will make sure that players don't show up wearing clothing or hats from their favorite college team.

Could the ban be because he has the sons of UCLA Coach Jim Mora, UCLA assistant Kennedy Polamalu and USC assistant Peter Sirmon in his program and doesn't want any trash talking?

"I want every school to feel comfortable they can come in and recruit our kids, not just USC and UCLA," Sanders said.

Loyola is off this week, and Sanders was asked which player made an impact this summer.

He quickly singled out junior defensive back-receiver Myles Bryant.

"Myles Bryant is an incredible football player," he said. "Myles Bryant is special."



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Boys' basketball: Bennie Boatwright, Kyle Leufroy improve summer profiles

The summer basketball season is almost over, and two Southern California-based players who have raised their summer profiles are Bennie Boatwright of Sun Valley Village Christian and Kyle Leufroy of La Canada St. Francis.

Boatwright, a 6-foot-8 senior, showed off a consistent, accurate three-point shooting touch in Las Vegas this past week, strengthening his reputation as one of the best outside shooters among big men. He already has many choices for college.

Leufroy began the summer highly regarded among the coaches in the Mission League, but he now has offers from Pacific, Boston University and Lehigh while gaining respect outside his own league.



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Football: City Section coaches to get second chance to attend meeting

In years past, City Section football coaches who failed to show up to a mandatory coaches' meeting were suspended for the season opener. Now they're going to get a second chance.

Five head coaches and 13 paid assistant coaches failed to attend Saturday's coaches' meeting, and Commissioner John Aguirre has decided to hold a second meeting to give them a second chance. If they fail to attend the second meeting, they will be suspended from coaching in the opening game.

Aguirre said the change was made because the City Section is no longer under direction of the Los Angeles Unified School District, and he wants to get out information to all the coaches any way possible. Also new this year was requiring all paid coaches, including assistants, to attend.

He said one coach missed the meeting because he was getting married. Another attended a family reunion.



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Football: City Section teams begin official practice

Rain or shine, muggy or not, City Section football teams begin official practices on Monday, starting with conditioning workouts. No more seven on seven passing competitions.

Narbonne Coach Manuel Douglas said he has 143 players coming out for football, one of the highest totals among City Section schools. Others will struggle to field enough players for varsity and junior varsity teams.

City teams are allowed to have one scrimmage scheduled between Aug. 21 and Aug. 30 with another team. Students must participate in at least 10 practices to play in the scrimmage. Games are allowed starting Aug. 27.

A new rule this season is that teams are allowed no more than 18 hours of practice time each week. Commissioner John Aguirre also noted that teams will be penalized 15 yards at the start of a game if they do not line up on the sideline for the playing of the national anthem before games.

Playoffs begin on Nov. 14, with the finals on Dec. 6.

Here's a list of teams and their playoff divisions:...

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Football: Junior QB Roman Ale is developing for Narbonne

Narbonne is considered the preseason favorite to win the City Section Division I championship, and Coach Manuel Douglas provided a positive report on Saturday about junior quarterback Roman Ale.

A year ago, Ale was forced into action in the season opener as a sophomore after an injury to the starter and rallied the Gauchos to a dramatic victory over Palos Verdes.

Ale made his share of mistakes last season, but he has come on strong this summer

"He's developing," Douglas said.





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Football: Get ready for 'Air El Co' at El Camino Real

There were times you could count on a single hand the number of times El Camino Real attempted a pass in a game during the days of their double-wing attack.

In his eighth season, El Camino Real Coach Kevin Williams is ready to turn loose quarterback Adam Blythe. Call it "Air El Co."

The Conquistadores began to pass the ball more frequently last season and this fall figure to reach a whole different level, switching to an up-tempo offense that will still keep some of the double-wing run plays.

Williams said it's some "fun stuff" being incorporated to take advantage of El Camino Real's personnel.

Birmingham will be the favorite in the West Valley League, but Granada Hills is the defending champion and returns quarterback Ramon Johnson. Chatsworth and Taft will have strong offensive teams.




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