Prep Rally: Contreras High’s soccer team can inspire us all

Coach Eder Puga Garcia, 27, talks to his Contreras soccer players.
Coach Eder Puga Garcia, 27, talks to his Contreras soccer players. The team won one regular season game two seasons ago. Now it’s league champion for first time.
(Craig Weston)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Prep Rally. My name is Eric Sondheimer. As a Los Angeles native, born and raised, there’s nothing more inspiring than finding a true L.A. story such as the one unfolding at Contreras High in soccer.

More than sports

Eduardo Villegas (24) leads a celebration of Contreras soccer players after clinching first league title in school history.
(Craig Weston)

The final whistle sounded, ending a scoreless soccer match as the day turned to evening. Contreras High players erupted into a delirious celebration that meant more than winning the school’s first league soccer title.


Players sprinted off the field with tears of joy for a group hug and Gatorade drenching of their 27-year-old coach, Eder Puga Garcia. It’s an unforgettable, unfolding L.A. story. It’s about the magic of sports and how players with families from Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala came together for the love of soccer and learned life lessons from their boyish-looking social studies teacher and coach who was once just like them.

Here’s their story.

Basketball rewind

The shot of the weekend belonged to freshman Jaxon Allensworth of Great Oak. With time running out in a tie game, he threw up a three-pointer from just inside the half-court line as the buzzer sounded and it went in to beat Crespi 56-53 and eliminate the top-seeded Celts in the Southern Section Division 2AA playoffs.

The Southern Section Open Division playoffs began just as expected with No. 1 seeded Harvard-Westlake beating No. 8 Corona Centennial and No. 2 Roosevelt holding off No. 7 JSerra. The other games were upsets. Sierra Canyon went on the road to defeat St. John Bosco and St. Pius X-St. Matthias routed host Mater Dei. Here’s the report.

In the City Section, No. 1 Cleveland was beaten by No. 8 LACES and Birmingham rallied from 21 points down to defeat Grant in overtime. Chatsworth upset Western League champion Westchester on the road. On Saturday at El Camino College, King/Drew will play Birmingham at 6:30 p.m. and Chatsworth will face LACES at 2:30 p.m.

The Southern Section Open Division girls went according to seedings with Sierra Canyon, Etiwanda, Mater Dei and Ontario Christian all winning. Here’s the report.



It was a big night for Birmingham at the City Section wrestling championships. The Patriots won the boys and girls City titles.

Here’s a report.

The Southern Section Masters Meet will be held on Friday at Palm Springs. Here are the brackets.


Tyler Cash of Oak Park had one of the most dramatic goals of the week, getting a golden goal to keep Oak Park’s title hopes alive.


Here’s the updated Southern Section boys’ soccer pairings.

Here’s the updated Southern Section girls’ soccer pairings.


The radar guns were out for Harvard-Westlake pitcher Dunan Marsten, who touched 97 mph.
(Nick Koza)

Opening day had lots of outstanding pitching performances, including Duncan Martsten of Harvard-Westlake striking out eight in four innings against South Hills. No. 1 Corona had three pitchers combine for a no-hitter against Ayala. Freshman Sean Parrow of Sierra Canyon threw five shutout innings.

Duncan Marsten of Harvard-Westlake.
(Nick Koza)

Here’s your opening day roundup.

Here’s The Times’ preseason top 25 rankings.



Pacifica High pitcher Brynne Nally (5) is congratulated by catcher Catherine Benitez after retiring the side.
(Nick Koza)

Defending Southern Section Division 1 champion Garden Grove Pacifica is the team to beat in high school softball.

Here’s a report on what makes Pacifica so good this season.

Here’s a look at players to watch in softball.

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Notes . . .

Murrieta Valley junior quarterback Bear Bachmeier poses for a photo on his family's three-acre plot of land.
(Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times)

Junior quarterback Bear Bachmeier of Murrieta Valley has committed to Stanford, where his older brother, Tiger, is a receiver. . . .

Santa Margarita junior softball player Payton Kennedy has committed to Mississippi. . . .

James Dixon, who had two children, Jamie and Maggie, become head basketball coach at the collegiate level, has died in Santa Monica after a bout with cancer. He was 86. He was a long-time San Fernando Valley resident. Jamie and Maggie were star basketball players at Sherman Oaks Notre Dame and went on to become head coaches. . . .

Former La Puente and Temple City coach Laron Johnson is the new football coach and track coach at Burbank Burroughs. . . .

Ricardo Cepeda has resigned as football coach at Garden Grove to become athletic director. . . .

Brannon Martinsen of Mater Dei has been lost for the rest of the basketball season because of a broken leg. . . .

Pasadena Poly basketball coach Brad Hall picked up his 700th coaching victory. . . .

The Southern Section has added a fifth venue to host its basketball championships: the Toyota Arena in Ontario, joining Cal Baptist, Azusa Pacific, Edison and Colony. . . .

Ben Buys has resigned as football coach at La Salle to become head coach at Chaffey College. . . .

Newbury Park baseball player Tyler Field has committed to Chapman. . . .

Former Taft High guard Spencer Dinwiddie has joined the Lakers. . . .


Three local high school football coaches were featured in a local Super Bowl commercial.

From the archives: Tyler Glasnow

Dodgers pitcher Tyler Glasnow with Hart coach Jim Ozella, who coached him in high school.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

Former Hart High pitcher Tyler Glasnow, traded to the Dodgers, returned to his alma mater last week to greet the current players and his former coach, Jim Ozella, who is retiring at the end of this season.

Glasnow talked about warm memories during his Hart days and following the tradition of helping players move forward.

Here’s a 2020 story about Glasnow starting in the World Series against the Dodgers in Texas.

“There’s no straight line to success,” Ozella said at the time. “He is a perfect example. He had one offer on the table from the University of Portland. His progress continued to go up. Everyone loved his curveball, how sharp it was. He had size 15 shoes. The hands are huge. You couldn’t see the baseball in his hand. He kept growing. He was 6-6 his senior year, and now he’s 6-8. Physically, he continued to develop and it’s really a testament to him.”



From USC Annenbergmedia, a story on former Foothill baseball star Austin Overn.

From the Washington Post, a story on a UCLA women’s basketball commit represented by Klutch Sports.

From, a story on safety measures being implemented in youth football.

From John Canzano, a column on bad behavior in youth sports.

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Until next time...

Have a question, comment or something you’d like to see in a future Prep Rally newsletter? Email me at, and follow me on Twitter at @latsondheimer.

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