Narbonne gets off the deck and is rising behind quarterback Ryan Corley

Narbonne quarterback Ryan Corley sets up to pass.
(Roque Casillas)

There are signs that former City Section power Narbonne High is starting to rise again after hitting rock bottom.

In 2019, at the same time Narbonne players were leaving in a mass exodus because of rule violations that prompted a two-year playoff ban, North Torrance freshman quarterback Ryan Corley was looking for a new school. He’d just come off his first year playing football, but he was big. He was passionate. And he found his way to Narbonne.

Almost three years later, perched high on 6-foot-4 Corley’s broad shoulders, a Narbonne team that went 2-9 last season yet advanced all the way to the Division III finals, made it to the championship game of El Camino Real seven-on-seven passing tournament Saturday. It was no cakewalk — the Gauchos took down Open Division defending champion Birmingham before falling to Simi Valley.


“We just have a big chip on our shoulder,” Corley said.

That chip, the senior quarterback said, comes from a collective knowledge of what Narbonne was: a perennial powerhouse and 10-time City champion. Head coach Malcolm Manuel, ushered in during the middle of the pandemic, has preached a saying all the way through a bumpy last season: “Brick by brick.”

The road forward is being built.

With the ability to make things happen passing or running, Emiliano Lopez gives Reseda Cleveland coach Peter Gunny plenty of options on offense.

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Narbonne thrived Saturday on the back of a “quick-strike” offense, as Manuel described it, designed to open up and take advantage of Corley’s arm strength when secondaries pressed to take away the short game.

“It’s pretty nice having somebody who can put it into tight spaces,” Manuel said.

This will be Corley’s first full year as Narbonne’s starter, after sliding into the role midseason in 2021. When asked about recruiting interest, he said he’s simply focused on going to college. He carries himself, though, with the quiet poise of a seasoned starter and top recruit.

The arm talent has always been there for the lanky Corley, Manuel said.

“Last year, I felt confident I could make the throw, but maybe just not sitting in there just scared to throw a pick,” Corley said.


It’s easier for Corley to feel confident with his 6-foot, 230-pound junior tight end and “safety blanket” Victor Carbajal, as Manuel described him. The two connected early and often.

“That’s my guy,” Corley said of Carbajal. “I definitely trust him.”

At this same time last year, losing seven-on-seven games didn’t faze Narbonne’s group. But player’s faces turned dark and body language sour after dropping Saturday’s final, not ready to hit the exits despite sweltering heat that flirted with triple digits.

It was a sign to Manuel that his team was ready to compete.

After losing to rival Roosevelt in 2021, the Garfield Bulldogs are focused on a comeback.

July 11, 2022

Other takeaways

Forty miles north of home, as a gleeful crowd squished like sardines on King/Drew’s home basketball court to watch LeBron James bully Drew League players for an afternoon, the Golden Eagles’ football team did its best to create its own buzz. Preparing for its inaugural season, head coach Joe Torres was so eager for snaps that he volunteered to field two King/Drew squads at the El Camino Real tournament after a couple teams pulled out.

The program might be lacking in experience but not in engagement, as Torres estimated it will carry around 80 come fall. Keep an eye on 6-4, 215-pound sophomore running back Chinedu Onyeagoro and 6-2 junior Sadiq Henry, both of whom play basketball at King/Drew and could burst onto the scene.

Birmingham sophomore quarterback Kingston Tisdell and wide receiver Peyton Waters continued to showcase a strong quarterback-receiver connection. Tisdell worked the middle of the field well and uncorked an impressive deep throw in the Patriots’ first game against Hamilton, and Waters secured most any pass in his radius, even if thrown to the back of his defender. The lingering question for coach Jim Rose: Who starts at running back?

It could be a rebuilding year for Palisades, which went 11-1 last year but lost more than 30 seniors, according to coach Chris Hyduke. Three different quarterbacks were cycled in and out Saturday, each with a shot at starting. Hyduke had so many underclassmen on the varsity roster he could hardly remember anyone’s last name. The silver lining: sophomore Dylan McDowell, a 6-3, 320-pound lineman whom Hyduke called “legit.”