Prep Rally: Here are the running backs you need to know about

Running back Jordon Davison of Mater Dei is back for his senior season and committed to Oregon.
(Nick Koza)
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Hi, and welcome to another edition of Prep Rally. My name is Eric Sondheimer. Continuing a summer look at players to watch for football this fall, let’s examine running backs.

The workhorses

Running back Karson Cox of Oak Hills.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

As much as high schools in Southern California have become passing machines, being able to run the ball helps open the passing game, and there are plenty of running backs to get excited about this fall.


Karson Cox of Oak Hills, a UCLA commit, comes back faster, stronger and hungrier to show his worth. Brian Bonner of Valencia ran a 10.48 100 meters this spring and 4.48 40-yard dash laser time this summer, so imagine putting that speed to good use for his junior season.

Dane Dunn of Sierra Canyon has been the go-to back for three years. Anthony League of Long Beach Millikan is committed to Cal and was a standout at Los Alamitos. Sean Morris is a punishing junior at Loyola at 190 pounds and growing.

No one had better statistics last season than David Sandy of Los Angeles Jordan. He finished with 2,904 yards rushing and 39 touchdowns.

Jordon Davison of Mater Dei has been a major contributor since his freshman season and committed to Oregon on Friday. Quaid Carr of Servite is a San Diego State commit who scored 17 touchdowns. Brice Hawkins of Simi Valley is quick and explosive. Senior Steve Chavez of Orange Lutheran had some big games last season and committed to San Jose State. Koen Glover of St. Bonaventure rushed for 1,189 yards and 15 touchdowns.

One of the fastest players should be junior Deshonne Redeaux of Oaks Christian. He decided to take a year off from track to get healthy and build up strength for this fall.

The Inland Empire remains strong with Jojo Solis of Aquinas and Da’lon Williams of Hesperia. Williams gained 2,051 yards as a sophomore. Kurelle Thomas of Murrieta Valley is a weapon running and receiving.

Julius Gillick of Edison rushed for 1,596 yards against top competition and just committed to Montana. Jaylin Burt has left North Hollywood for St. Genevieve after rushing for 1,399 yards last season. Ronnell Hewitt left Birmingham for Westlake after rushing for 1,438 yards as a sophomore.

Kelton Strickland gained 1,290 yards as a freshman at Warren and is now at Corona Centennial. Elijah Wilson rushed for 1,344 yards as a freshman for St. Monica. Sophomore Edward Rivera of South East had 1,125 yards rushing as a freshman. Maya Angelou went 12-1 last season behind sophomore Nicholas Quintanilla, a 1,000-yard rusher.

Family commitment

St. Francis senior quarterback John Sanders commutes from his home in Mojave to La Canada.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

Since the fall of 2021, the most amazing commitment began. Tracey Sanders bought a new hybrid car so that six days a week he’d be able to drive his then freshman son, John, from the family home in Mojave to St. Francis High in La Cañada. It’s 80 miles one way and takes 90 minutes driving the 14 Freeway.

Two years later, his other son, Shawn, joined John in attending St. Francis and making the 160-mile round-trip commute. Both are quarterbacks and had been trained by St. Francis coach Dean Herrington since they were youth athletes.

“We do whatever we have to do for the kids,” said Tracey, a general contractor who also helps coach at St. Francis.

A profile of Sanders’ rise as a quarterback and four-year ongoing commitment.


Mission Viejo quarterback Luke Fahey (left) and Draiden Trudeau.
(Craig Weston)

It was a busy Saturday filled with summer passing tournaments. Mission Viejo, Sherman Oaks Notre Dame and Gardena Serra were the big winners. Here’s a report on the activities.


Linebacker Noah Karim Mikhail of Bonita has committed to Texas A&M.

Defensive end Epi Sitanilei of St. John Bosco has committed to UCLA.

Defensive back Dijon Lee of Mission Viejo has committed to Alabama.

Defensive back Tre’ Harrison from Gardena Serra has committed to Cal.

Junior quarterback Jaden O’Neal of Narbonne has committed to Oklahoma.

Senior tight end Vander Ploog of Troy has committed to Washington.

Linebacker Cade Paterson of Corona Centennial has committed to Air Force.

Quarterback Kingston Tisdell has committed to Weber State. He led Birmingham to the City Section Open Division championship last season and has since transferred to Inglewood.

Defensive end Jaden Williams of Mission Viejo has committed to San Diego State. He had 18 sacks.

Carnell Henderson is the new football coach at Westlake after the resignation of Jesse Craven without ever coaching a game. Henderson is the school’s athletic director and a former college player.

The Southern Section is planning to have four playoff divisions for its inaugural seven on seven girls’ flag football championships this fall.


Former Corona Centennial guard Jared McCain.
(Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

The NBA draft proved to be a big night for former Corona Centennial guard Jared McCain, who was taken as the 16th pick in the first round by the Philadelphia 76ers. He played one year at Duke after being The Times’ player of the year in 2023.


Here’s a story from McCain’s special night.

AJ Johnson, who played one season at Taft High, was taken in the first round by the Milwaukee Bucks.

Former Chaminade guard KJ Simpson was taken by Charlotte with the 42nd selection in the second round.,

Former Sierra Canyon guard Bronny James went to the Lakers at No. 55, allowing him to join his father, LeBron, in the NBA.

Brentwood’s girls team won the Beckman tournament behind Kelsey Sugar. The Eagles defeated JSerra in the semifinals and North Torrance in the final.

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Notes . . .

Sadie Engelhardt of Ventura is going to need to find space for more trophies after being named the Gatorade national track and field player of the year after being named Gatorade’s state player of the year for girls. . . .

Former Servite and Crespi football coach Troy Thomas has become the defensive coordinator at Edison. . . .

Gerald Aquiningoc is the new volleyball coach at St. John Bosco. He coached Long Beach Poly’s girls’ team last season. . . .

Jaime Ornelas is the new girls’ volleyball coach at La Serna. . . .

Kelly Doherty is the new girls’ water polo coach at Huntington Beach. . . .

Lacrosse defenseman Henry Casani from Loyola has committed to North Carolina. . . .

Oak Park lacrosse player Micah Decloedt.
(Sharon Levy)

It’s quite a summer for lacrosse standout Micah Decloedt of Oak Park. He’s spending the summer playing for in the Delta Islanders Jr. Box League in British Columbia. He’ll be a senior in the fall at Oak park. . . .

Former Warren, Cathedral and Roosevelt baseball coach Scott Pearson is returning to coaching to take over the baseball program at Troy. . . .

Former Agoura long jumper Tara Davis-Woodhall has qualified for the Olympic Games in Paris after finishing first at the U.S. Olympic Trials. . . .

St. Francis freshman golfer Jaden Soong made it to the semifinals of the California Amateur championships. . . .

From the archives: Coliseum thriller

Paul Knox was the football coach at Dorsey during the Dons' miracle last-play win in the City final against Taft.
Paul Knox, the football coach at Washington Prep, embraces his former Dorsey player, Johnathan Franklin, at an awards banquet. Knox turns 67 in December and keeps coaching.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

The 2001 City Section football final at the Coliseum produced the most dramatic ending in championship game history.

All Taft had to do with seven seconds left was get off a punt and the Toreadors would be celebrating a 14-13 victory over Dorsey.

Then came the stunning reversal. Dorsey blocked the punt, recovered it and ran it in for a game-ending touchdown and a 19-14 victory.

Here’s a look back from a 2020 story.

Here’s the story from 2001 on the improbable ending.


From, a story on Eastvale Roosevelt guard Brayden Burries.

From the Los Angeles Times, a look back at the death of former Santa Monica High and Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs.

From the New York Times, a story on a young skateboarding athlete receiving attention from Tony Hawk.

Tweets you might have missed


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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