Trends to watch, questions to answer, story lines to follow as the 2015 high school football season begins:
Southern California coaches have become believers in quarterbacks who can run and pass.
The quarterbacks are being asked to read defenses before and after the center snap and take advantage. It's a talent every school wants.
Among the quarterbacks who strike fear in defenses because of their running and passing skills are Victor Viramontes of Norco, Devon Modster of Tesoro, Khalil Tate of Gardena Serra, Anthony Catalano of Corona Centennial, Max Gilliam of Thousand Oaks, Matt Fink of Glendora and Armani Rogers of Los Angeles Hamilton.
Scott Meyer at Anaheim Servite, Tony Henney at Westlake Village Westlake, Jim Benkert at Westlake Village Oaks Christian and Jeff Steinberg at Moreno Valley Rancho Verde are coaches taking over successful programs with high expectations. There's no reason they can't earn respect from fans and players alike.
When Mission Viejo and the South Coast League were removed from the Southern Section Pac-5 Division after the 2013 season, it meant the Diablos needed to make room for lots of championship trophies. The Diablos won their division last season and figure to do it again in 2015. It's one of the reasons the Southern Section needs to revise its playoff format and place individual teams in divisions based on their performance, not on their league.
Shame in championships?
We're in an era where there seems to be no limit on how many trophies to hand out or how many players make all-league teams, so it should come as no surprise that this season every team across the state that wins a section championship will qualify for a CIF bowl game. That means 13 state bowl champions. The companies that make banners and trophies are celebrating.
Looking for mudders
If you believe the weather forecasters, it's going to be a wet and muddy fall, something rare for Southern California high school football. That means schools with grass fields had better prepare to play in the mud.
Venice Coach Angelo Gasca remembers former running back Curtis McNeal scoring five touchdowns in one quarter in the mud in 2007 against Santa Monica. "Some guys can run in the mud and some guys look like they're in the mud when there's no mud," he said.
Extended forecast for Sacramento
The CIF state championship Open Division bowl game and four others, to be played Dec. 18 and 19, have been moved from Carson to Sacramento. Money won out. The CIF got a better financial deal.
But if it's rainy, windy and cold, look for the Southern California visitors to be screaming.
Pump up the volume
Through the years, teams have come onto the field with music blaring over the public address system from the likes of Eminem, AC/DC, Drake, Kid Rock, Jay-Z, U2, Bon Jovi and others.
It's no longer the era of "Rocky."
Coaches must devote lots of time and effort to make sure players pick songs without profanity. By midseason, we'll know who's in and who's out.
Can Narbonne be stopped?
Harbor City Narbonne has one of the best teams in the region and will face Long Beach Poly and Serra in nonleague games, but the Gauchos' toughest opponent could be Marine League rival San Pedro, which returns several starters and always plays the Gauchos tough.
Narbonne will have to beat the Pirates in a regular-season finale on Nov. 6, then probably again during the City Section Division I playoffs.
Who's the best Bynum?
It's going to be a big season for players named Bynum.
There's Terrell Bynum of Anaheim Servite, a junior receiver. There's Cameron Bynum of Corona Centennial, a senior defensive back. There's Elijah Bynum of Buena Park, a senior defensive back.
If they're related, they don't know it.
Best vs. best
Who needs a state playoff when the top teams are playing each other during the regular season? We'll know who's No. 1, because Corona Centennial is playing Gardena Serra; Concord De La Salle is facing Long Beach Poly; Bellflower St. John Bosco is playing Santa Ana Mater Dei and Encino Crespi; Narbonne is playing Poly and Serra; and La Puente Bishop Amat is playing Mater Dei and Mission Hills Alemany.