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Column: Midseason report: Jaden Mickey gives Centennial chance to beat Trinity League powers

Defensive back Jaden Mickey of Corona Centennial poses for a photo.
Defensive back Jaden Mickey of Corona Centennial.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

It’s the midseason point of the high school football regular season. Somehow, someway, it has proceeded with minimal interruptions. Some games have been canceled because of COVID-19 protocols, but adjustments and creativity have kept teams moving forward. Now it’s time to review who has been performing at a high level.

Let’s start with a player who entered this season as a 16-year-old senior. Take that, you people who promote repeating eighth grade for athletic reasons. Jaden Mickey, a cornerback for unbeaten Corona Centennial who’s committed to Notre Dame, is outplaying 19-year-old seniors. He turned 17 on Saturday.

“It’s fun knowing I’m going against older dudes because in college, it’s what I’m going to be doing,” Mickey said.

Said coach Matt Logan: “He is playing at a tremendously high level.”

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Opposing coaches rave about the defense of 4-0 Centennial. Mickey has combined with junior cornerback Aaron Williams to send a message to private schools Santa Ana Mater Dei, Bellflower St. John Bosco and Anaheim Servite that there’s a public school waiting to provide a playoff challenge come November.

Here’s a look at other top players at their positions at midseason:

At quarterback, 6-foot-6 junior Nicholaus Iamaleava has been magnificent, passing for 1,242 yards and 20 touchdowns with one interception for the 4-0 Bears. Sophomore Elijah Brown of Mater Dei has played in only two games but is nearly perfect, completing 82% of his passes with five touchdowns and no interceptions.

At running back, 225-pound Jakob Galloway of Wilmington Banning is proving to be quite a load to bring down as he builds up stamina from missing time after contracting COVID-19. He had 385 yards rushing against North Torrance and 265 yards against Palos Verdes. He’s averaging nearly 10 yards a carry.

Senior Camdan McWright of Panorama City St. Genevieve has 730 yards rushing and eight touchdowns for the 4-0 Valiants.

On the offensive line, 330-pound Earnest Greene of St. John Bosco is living up to expectations as the best unsigned senior college prospect in California. The Braves trust Greene enough to send running backs in his direction and provide protection for their quarterbacks. He’ll be in the spotlight on Oct. 1 when St. John Bosco hosts Mater Dei.

At receiver, 6-4 Tetairoa McMillan of Servite is the standard to emulate. Everyone knows it’s difficult for a single player to try to contain him. He has caught at least one touchdown in games against Huntington Beach Edison, Mission Viejo, La Puente Bishop Amat and Chatsworth Sierra Canyon. He’s also an exceptional free safety.

As a defensive tackle, Mason Graham of Servite has been so good (eight sacks) that Michigan started recruiting him and he committed last weekend, switching from Boise State. He’s also starting at offensive tackle. He’s a 300-pound brick wall.

At linebacker, David Bailey of Santa Ana Mater Dei has been a total disruptor even though he has played in only two games. He had seven tackles against Duncanville (Texas) and two sacks against Henderson (Nev.) Liberty. His quickness, aggressiveness and 6-5 height make him a must-have college prospect.

At kicker, Dylan Fingersh of Mission Viejo Capistrano Valley is six for six on field-goal attempts and 20 of 21 on PATs. Nick Pasquarella of Alta Loma made a 48-yard field goal on Friday, making him three for three as well as 11 of 11 on PATs.

There are 68 unbeaten teams in the City Section and Southern Section, with records ranging from 1-0 to 5-0.

Among the biggest turnarounds from the last time there was a full season in 2019, Lake Forest El Toro has gone from 2-9 to 5-0, Dymally from 0-10 to 3-0 and Riverside Ramona from 2-8 to 4-0.

The biggest surprises so far in the City Section are Lincoln (5-0), Hawkins (4-0) and Palisades (4-0).

Orange Lutheran (5-0) is the surprise team in the Southern Section under first-year coach Rod Sherman.


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