Zero week in prep football gives fans opportunity to see top teams

Interim Narbonne coach Joe Aguirre
Interim Narbonne coach Joe Aguirre will take the team to Clovis on Saturday for a nationally televised season opener against Buchanan.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

There are lots of questions to be answered when the high school football season begins this week with zero-week games.

The top game has No. 1 Santa Ana Mater Dei hosting No. 3 Corona Centennial on Friday night at Santa Ana Stadium on Prime Ticket. Or you can make it a doubleheader by watching No. 15 Upland host La Habra on Thursday night. Or you could make it a four-game watch party weekend, because on Saturday, No. 2 St. John Bosco is hosting Maryland DeMatha at 6 p.m. on ESPNU and No. 5 Narbonne is playing at Clovis Buchanan at 8 p.m. on ESPNU.

The big question for Narbonne is how well interim coach Joe Aguirre has been doing keeping players focused on football and not on off-the-field rumors associated with a Los Angeles Unified School District investigation that has seen head coach Manuel Douglas reassigned since the end of May. The early indication is that the Gauchos are ready to go based on a dominating performance in a scrimmage against Chaminade.


“They’re looking good,” Aguirre said.

But how many of Narbonne’s transfer students will be eligible on Saturday is another question. There are 11 players pending in the City Section transfer portal, meaning they haven’t been approved while waiting for paperwork issues to be cleared. Most played against Chaminade and offered a sneak peek at how good the Gauchos might be. No one looked more impressive than receiver Traeshon Holden, a transfer from Florida committed to Alabama. His speed and big-play ability are off the charts.

Mater Dei and Centennial are two of the four best teams in Southern Section Division 1. What in the world of common sense are they doing opening the season against each other? It’s because both teams had trouble finding opponents. They faced off in last year’s semifinals, and Mater Dei returned four interceptions for touchdowns in a 48-14 win.

Huskies coach Matt Logan, who had his team face Florida IMG Academy twice, never fears anyone. He said there’s no downside to playing the Monarchs other than the possibility of injuries because his team will see what a top opponent looks like.

Upland and La Habra are two teams hoping to make an impact this season, and each boasts a top college prospect. Upland has uncommitted linebacker Justin Flowe and La Habra has Ohio State commit Clark Phillips III.