With football set to begin next month, California teams must replace players who opt out

VJ Greenwale
VJ Greenwale, a junior varsity quarterback last season, will take over as the starter at Paraclete after CJ Montes opted to prepare for his fall season at New Mexico.

With the twice delayed California high school football season set to begin next month for a possible five-game spring season, coaches are having to make adjustments after losing players who opted out, whether because they graduated early, decided to change sports or don’t want to risk injury before they head off to college in the fall.

Two schools most affected are Sierra Canyon and Paraclete, which are scheduled to play each other. Both lost their standout quarterbacks. Chayden Peery of Sierra Canyon enrolled at Georgia Tech. CJ Montes of Paraclete decided to prepare for his fall season at New Mexico, coach Dean Herrington said.

Their departures mean that backup quarterbacks will get the opportunity to take over, and Herrington has confidence in junior quarterback VJ Greenwale, who has a 4.6 grade-point average and led the JV team to a win over Sierra Canyon in 2019. Sierra Canyon also has several quarterbacks coach Jon Ellinghouse intends to rely on.


Eric Sondheimer answers questions about how California’s updated coronavirus guidelines will impact the return of high school sports in the state.

Feb. 19, 2021

Mission Viejo started with four quarterbacks but is down to two, a freshman and sophomore. Starter Peter Costelli has moved on to Utah and sophomore Will Burns has chosen to focus on baseball. But standout linebacker Easton Mascarenas has received permission from Oregon State to play with the Diablos next month.

While some players have opted out, it’s also an opportunity for freshmen to contribute far more than they normally would, because they have had months of learning offenses and defenses via Zoom and could be called upon quicker than normal.

While there is growing optimism about having a football season, coronavirus case rates in counties must drop to 14 per 100,000 for games to be played. The state is scheduled to release an update on county metrics Tuesday.

For now, competitions in the sports of cross-country, tennis, golf, and track and field are the only ones permitted under state guidelines.

High school sports such as football and water polo will be allowed in California starting Feb. 26, with weekly testing in counties in more restrictive tiers.

Feb. 19, 2021