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High School Sports

Mission League football media day features optimism from players and coaches

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Bishop Amat players and coaches answer questions at media day.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

Breakfast burritos, orange juice, mixed fruit and coffee greeted players and coaches from the Mission League who gathered on Monday for the first media day in football at Sherman Oaks Notre Dame. Representatives from the Knights, Bishop Amat, Loyola, Chaminade, Gardena Serra and Alemany were excited about the season ahead.

Notre Dame coach Kevin Rooney begins his 40th season. That’s an improbable accomplishment staying at the same private school and avoiding trouble from parents and administrators to survive and thrive that long. But Rooney is no ordinary coach. Forget the four Southern Section championships his teams have won. Just look at the fact his top assistant, Joe McNab, has stayed with him for 39 years and the kind of players he’s produced, from Justin Fargas to Travis Johnson, and from Dayne Crist to Giancarlo Stanton.

“I’m here to educate kids,” Rooney said.

Football coach arrived in 1980 and keeps coaching

Alemany coach Casey Clausen announced that his team’s Sept. 13 game against Oaks Christian will be televised by Fox Sports West. Last season, the Warriors were down 56-0 at halftime to Oaks Christian. Alemany, led by junior quarterback Miller Moss, is hoping a year’s experience and improvement will help the team turn in an improved performance.

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Chaminade has completed a revitalization of its blue football field with a new track. Coach Ed Croson isn’t ready to pick a starting quarterback from between Tyler Voss and Jaylen Henderson.

“In the modern era of social media, everyone wants everything now,” Croson said. “I don’t have a crystal ball… I can’t figure out the starter until we get into pads, which happens today.”

Bishop Amat can’t wait to unleash healthy running back Damien Moore, who went down in the second quarter of the first game last season against Mater Dei with a knee injury. “We got our hearts ripped out,” coach Steve Hagerty said. The Cal commit is ready to go. Also beware of senior defensive end Elijah Ponder, who’s 6-3 and doesn’t turn 17 until the end of this month.

First-year Loyola coach Drew Casani is promising to bring more people on campus to expose his school for its academics and athletics. The Cubs are planning to pass the ball extensively to 6-3 tight end Brendan Pernecky.

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Gardena Serra will start UNLV-bound Doug Brumfield at quarterback, but sophomore Maalik Murphy will also play. Receiver Lavon Bunkley Shelton is back after tying the single season school reception record held by the Rams’ Robert Woods. Coach Scott Altenberg said there are 10 former Serra players currently on NFL rosters.

Standout linebacker Justin Houston will be the last Houston brother for a while. Oldest brother John is at USC. Another brother, Jace, is 6 years old. Altenberg is ready to start training him next year.

Alemany will be the first team to play games, opening at home on Aug. 16 against Utah Jordan. Zero week games are the following week.


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