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Carter Graham is a big hitter, just not on the football field

Carter Graham is a big hitter, just not on the football field
Freshman third baseman Carter Graham of Chaminade is focusing on baseball after his parents decided football's injury risks were too much. (Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

Anyone can easily envision 15-year-old freshman Carter Graham playing linebacker for West Hills Chaminade. He's 6-2, 198 pounds and possesses exceptional hand-eye coordination.

"He's a dude," Athletic Director Todd Borowski said.

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Except football is not in Graham's plans. Back when he was 11 and asked his mother and father if he could play, the answer was a firm no.

His father, Matt, an All-City lineman for Reseda High in the 1980s, injured his back in college and decided the injury risk was too much.

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"That, along with brain issues we hear about today, we decided to not let him play football," Graham's father said in an email.

Baseball has become the big winner. After five games as Chaminade's starting third baseman, Graham has eight hits, including five doubles, with nine RBIs.

He's part of a talented class of freshmen baseball players in the Mission League, many of whom have known each other for years playing together or against each other in youth ball.

"We all just root for each other," Graham said. "They're all good kids."

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From Sherman Oaks Notre Dame's Lucas Gordon and Daylen Reyes to Harvard-Westlake's Drew Bowser and Peter Crow-Armstrong, there will be plenty of young players to watch when the Mission League opens play on Tuesday.

Graham has been a nice addition for a 5-0 Eagles team that needed to replace first-round draft pick Blake Rutherford.

"I think he's done a good job of catching up to the speed of the game," Coach Frank Mutz said. "I know the competition we've played so far has been decent but not the Mission League. A little bit of the story will be told in the next few weeks. Four years from now, he could be a Blake Rutherford-type player."

Hagen Danner in baseball: Huntington Beach senior Hagen Danner is reinforcing the notion that he could be a first-round draft pick. In six games for the unbeaten Oilers, he has four home runs, 11 RBIs and is 2-0 on the mound with 18 strikeouts in 11 innings.

Sportsmanship at its best: It was pretty tough losing in the Southern California Division I soccer regionals this past week on penalty kicks to Lake Forest El Toro, but Huntington Beach Edison senior Brian Piscopo gave adults and athletes alike a lesson on sportsmanship.

He posted a photo on Twitter afterward showing him and El Toro's Elijah Amadin smiling with their arms around each other.

The two were club teammates when they were 15. Piscopo made his penalty kick in defeat. Amadin missed his in victory. They were opponents on the field but were back as friends as soon as time expired.

Asked how he learned to separate competition from friendships, Piscopo said: "Honestly, my dad. My dad and I have a good relationship in sports and he's always giving me advice, 'Whatever happens happens. You have to be a good sport. As long as you play your hardest, that's what matters.'"

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El Toro lost to Paramount, 5-1, in the championship game.

Tough ticket: Torrance Bishop Montgomery and Chino Hills will begin selling tickets at their respective schools Monday for Tuesday's semifinal game of the Southern California Open Division basketball playoffs at El Camino College in Torrance.

Seating capacity is about 2,000. The game is expected to be televised by Spectrum. The other semifinal has San Diego St. Augustine at Santa Ana Mater Dei.

Twitter: latsondheimer

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