Teams to watch in City Section football for the 2023 season

Birmingham High sophomore quarterback Kingston Tisdell, left, and junior receiver/cornerback Peyton Waters pose for a photo.
Quarterback Kingston Tisdell, left, and receiver/safety Peyton Waters will try to lead Birmingham to a fourth consecutive City Section Open Division title.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

Lake Balboa Birmingham appeared beatable last season. The team was young and inexperienced, particularly at quarterback, and its City Section rivals should have been able to take advantage. But the Patriots won their playoff opener in overtime against Venice and never looked back in winning a third consecutive City Open Division title.

They haven’t officially lost to a City team since the 2017 season, a streak of 34 consecutive wins. They won the championship game last season 49-13 over Garfield with a running clock.

As this season begins, Birmingham is the clear favorite to defend its title. The Patriots have size, more speed and more experience. They return the City player of the year in Peyton Waters, a big-play receiver and defensive back. They have talent at quarterback, running back, linebacker, kicker and on the lines. So Birmingham starts out No. 1 in the City Section. Here’s a preseason look at the top teams.


1. BIRMINGHAM: The Patriots are headed to Texas for a game near San Antonio that highlights a nonleague schedule that should prepare them to dominate again.

2. GARFIELD: With quarterback Damian Cabrera, running back Damian Cornejo and receiver Jayden Barnes, the Bulldogs are armed to score lots of points.

3. BANNING: Quarterback Andrew Devoe and receiver Elijah Nuhi-Yandall will have lots of fun combining on touchdowns this season.

4. SAN PEDRO: The Pirates still are stewing about being upset in the first round of the playoffs against Eagle Rock. If a new offensive line can develop, there’s opportunity to make up for last season’s disappointment.

5. VENICE: Coach Angelo Gasca is a master at turning quarterbacks into standouts. The Gondoliers lack experience at that position but have strengths everywhere else, so beware.

6. CARSON: The Colts could be ready to make a jump back into the upper echelon of teams, led by talented running back Jerry Misaalefua.


7. FRANKLIN: The growth of junior quarterback Eduardo Cuevas and a stronger nonleague schedule have the Panthers thinking big after a 10-0 regular season last year.

8. GRANADA HILLS: Coach Bucky Brooks has figured out the double-wing offense. Now he must find a replacement for star running back Dijon Stanley, which he has in cousin Darrell Stanley.

9. CLEVELAND: The Cavaliers have big-play potential with versatile receiver Kory Hall.

10. EAGLE ROCK: Coach Andy Moran is like NFL coach Andy Reid in finding ways for his team to succeed and has receiver Barry Weatherspoon.

11. KING/DREW: In only their second season of play, the Golden Eagles could win the Coliseum League because of their many returning players.

12. FAIRFAX: The Lions could be the main challenger to Venice in the Western League.