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High School Sports

Column: Narbonne receivers are a group to reckon with

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Narbonne’s outstanding group of receivers include Elijah Queen, left, Joshua Jackson, Kobe Stewart, Eren East and Traeshon Holden.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

One by one, they lined up for a photo outside the Harbor City Narbonne weight room.

Traeshon Holden made a blunt statement.

“It’s the best receiver corp in the country,” he said.

But what about the receivers at Santa Ana Mater Dei, Calabasas and Bellflower St. John Bosco?

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“They’re not us,” Holden said.

There are lots of very good receivers in Southern California, but Narbonne’s collection intends to stake the claim as best.

“They check all the boxes,” Narbonne assistant Tim Kaub said.

They’re a group of five seniors _ Holden (Alabama commit), Joshua Jackson (USC commit), Kobe Stewart (Arizona State commit), Elijah Queen and Eren East. Stewart hasn’t played yet after moving from Georgia. He becomes eligible next week.

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“Kobe makes us ungodly good,” Kaub said.

They did all play in a scrimmage against West Hills Chaminade.

“Together, they present matchup problems,” Chaminade coach Ed Croson said. “Their No. 5 receiver might be as good as your No. 1 cover guy.”

Narbonne offensive coordinator Brandon Manumaleuna said the 2016 Narbonne team will be tough to top. That team went 14-1 and included receivers Stephon Robinson (Kansas), Tyrone Marshall (Montana State) and Tre Walker (San Jose State).

This year’s group gives quarterback Jake Garcia many options. East is the possession receiver who leads the team with 29 receptions. Queen, who has been at the school for four years, had a 78-yard touchdown catch last week against Orange Lutheran. Jackson has a 70-yard TD catch. Holden, who moved from Florida and only became eligible two week ago, could be ready to break out during Friday’s showdown game against Gardena Serra at Narbonne.

Whether they’re the best in Southern California, let the debate begin.

The Mater Dei trio of Kody Epps, Kyron Ware-Hudson and Cristian Dixon each had more than 100 yards receiving in a game against Peoria (Ariz.) Centennial. There’s also super sophomore CJ Williams.

St. John Bosco has Logan Loya, Kris Hutson and Beaux Collins, all of whom are major-college recruits.

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Calabasas’ Jermaine Burton and Johnny Wilson are headed to LSU and Oregon, respectively, and there are also juniors Amoni Butler and Devin Hardy.

It’s also too early to put the Narbonne group among the best ever. Remember Serra had a group in 2009 of Robert Woods, Paul Richardson and Marqise Lee, all of whom are in the NFL. George Farmer, who ended up at USC, was also in that group. And the Mater Dei group two years ago of Amon-ra St. Brown (USC), Bru McCoy (USC), Nikko Remigio (Cal) and Michael Martinez (UCLA) was second to none.

Perhaps the Serra defensive backs will be able to answer the definitive question of who’s best this season after Friday night. Cornerbacks Justin Pinkney and Devyn King and safeties Devin Kirkwood, Geordon Gaspard and Lavon Bunkley-Shelton faced Calabasas earlier this season and now get to take on the Gauchos.

“They’re so deep,” Serra coach Scott Altenberg said of Narbonne. “I’m looking at them, ‘Who’s this guy? Who’s this guy?’ They are loaded.”

But everyone knows that a passing attack can be beaten if a defense figures out how to apply enough pressure on a quarterback. It happened to Narbonne in a 41-21 loss to Highland (Utah) Lone Peak on Aug. 31.

The Gauchos (3-1) hope they learned their lesson and aren’t planning to lose another game this season.

Can I borrow a helicopter? Los Angeles County commuters made it through Carmageddon in 2011, when a 10-mile stretch of the 405 Freeway was closed for three days. Will prep football fans make it through the night of Oct. 25, when there are so many top games that not even hiring a helicopter will help?

Among the scheduled games are Mater Dei-St. John Bosco, Mission Viejo-San Clemente, Sherman Oaks Notre Dame-La Puente Bishop Amat, Serra-Mission Hills Alemany, Dorsey-Crenshaw, Narbonne-Carson, Calabasas-Westlake Village Oaks Christian, Corona del Mar-Newport Harbor, Chatsworth Sierra Canyon-Simi Valley Grace Brethren.

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Yes, I could stay home, watch Mater Dei-St. John Bosco on television and also break out the computer to see several other games. But that wouldn’t be as fun as braving L.A. traffic.

The key for everyone will be making sure you charge your cellphone to capacity and have a charger in your pocket so you can keep monitoring on Twitter or elsewhere while watching your favorite game. It’s going to be a wild night on Oct. 25.


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