Column: Transfers seek better opportunities with moves before spring football

Former Cathedral quarterback Bryce Young has moved to Santa Ana Mater Dei, one of more than a dozen quarterbacks to switch schools for the spring semester.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Break out your pencils and erasers. High school football rosters are changing rapidly during the spring semester. You don’t have to wait until June to find out who’s transferring. There’s a trend developing statewide: Players switching schools in time for spring practice.

In an era when there are more than 16,500 transfers statewide each school year, there have been at least 17 quarterback transfers in the Southland, and that should increase after players learn who’s starting and who’s going to ride the bench. And when one leaves, another arrives, so it’s a domino effect.

Take defending City Section champion Harbor City Narbonne. It has five quarterbacks competing for the starting job after the arrival of Jake Garcia from Long Beach Poly and Brionne Penny from Norwalk. Leaving Narbonne was Jalen Daniels, who’s at Lawndale.

Mission Hills Alemany is another school with musical chairs at quarterback following the hiring of Casey Clausen as head coach. Arriving from L.A. Loyola was sophomore-to-be Miller Moss. Exiting Alemany was Tripp Mitchell, who went to Westlake Village Oaks Christian, and Jared Heywood, who left for L.A. Cathedral to replace Bryce Young, who left for Santa Ana Mater Dei. Then Mater Dei lost Carter Freedland, who left for Corona Centennial.


The movement of athletes to find “better” playing opportunities is certain to accelerate after CIF member schools voted last year to revise language in its transfer bylaw that no longer prevents students from transferring if they are dissatisfied with their current school’s athletic program.

Mater Dei, coming off an unbeaten season, is on the transfer bandwagon. It has picked up players from Texas, Sacramento, Rancho Cucamonga as well as Eastvale Roosevelt, Gardena Serra and Cathedral. That prompted Serra coach Scott Altenberg to call the Monarchs “IMG West.”

As it happens, IMG Academy in Florida, which has a roster of players from around the country, is coming to play the Monarchs in September. There’s going to be competition to come up with an appropriate title for the game.

Not far behind the Monarchs in the transfer department is Narbonne, which had two former players taken in the NFL draft and a third signed as a free agent. Three players from Simi Valley Grace Brethren checked in, led by sophomore running back Seven McGee, who has a scholarship offer from USC. There’s also transfers players from L.A. Dorsey, Norwalk and Bellflower St. John Bosco.

“Parents are impatient,” Narbonne coach Manuel Douglas said. “They’ve made a decision they’re not going to have an opportunity, so they want to compete at the new school. There’s always been transfers, but what has made a difference is that now it can be athletically motivated.”

San Juan Capistrano JSerra is positioning itself as the third option in the Trinity League behind Mater Dei and Bellflower St. John Bosco, which picked up three players from Anaheim Servite. JSerra got two promising young players from Mater Dei, plus transfers from Servite and Long Beach Poly.

Upland lost its starting quarterback, David Baldwin, who left for IMG Academy, but gained talented sophomore to be Cole Boop from Santa Ana Calvary Chapel.

Santa Margarita is going to have quite a quarterback competition between young transfers from St. John Bosco and Temecula Chaparral.

A second round of movement should occur after the spring semester among those who decide to do it the old-fashioned way — wait for the school year to end. Then there will be a third round of movement after the summer competition takes place and it’s clear who’s starting. Others will move in August when the season starts.

The 10 CIF section commissioners will continue to repeat their line that “only 2% of kids transfer,” so don’t worry about it.

Forgive me, but as I look over rosters, transfers will continue to make a huge impact, and in the highest division, you cannot win a championship without them.

On June 7, the Southern Section is supposed to release its playoff divisions for 2018. It’s too bad divisions can’t be adjusted based on transfers. Otherwise, enjoy spring practice but don’t write anyone in ink yet.

Twitter: @latsondheimer