High School Sports

Eric Sondheimer’s predictions for 2018 in high school sports

Harvard-Westlake pitchers Sam Hliboki (left) and Jesse Bergin project as standouts for the 2018 baseball season. Hliboki is committed to Vanderbilt. Bergin signed with UCLA.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

It’s time to peer into my crystal ball and see what 2018 has in store for the Southland’s high school athletes (and a few former ones, too), coaches and fans:

The pitching duo of Jesse Bergin (UCLA signee) and Sam Hliboki (Vanderbilt commit) will give Studio City Harvard-Westlake its most acclaimed pitching rotation since 2012, when future first-round draft picks Lucas Giolito, Max Fried and Jack Flaherty were on the team.

Birmingham will win the City Section baseball championship, prompting pitcher Armando Yanez to sing Luke Bryan’s “Play It Again” in the dugout to celebrate.

Cassius Stanley of Chatsworth Sierra Canyon will leap so high to deliver a dunk that he’ll qualify for astronaut training.


Quarterback Tanner McKee of Corona Centennial will fly off on his Mormon mission to … somewhere in Latin America, where he’ll try to keep his arm in shape for the next two years while learning about soccer.

Claudia Lane of Malibu will break so many records in cross country that she’ll be investigated for having super powers.

Cole Roederer of Newhall Hart will hit for the cycle, then ride a bike home.

When 6-foot-4, 230-pound quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei of Bellflower St. John Bosco hits a baseball so far that it goes missing, scouts will start comparing him to Giancarlo Stanton.


Defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux of Westlake Village Oaks Christian will be triple-teamed and still find a way to record 25 sacks.

LaMelo Ball will be the winner of a dunk contest in Lithuania.

Devonaire Doutrive of Birmingham will score 60 points in a game.

Shareef O’Neal of Santa Monica Crossroads will defeat his father, Shaq, in a charity one-on-one game, then go on TBS and declare, “Let’s try free throws.”

The number of sports transfers in California will reach 17,000, prompting the CIF to say, “Oh well.”

Junior softball standout Maya Brady of Oaks Christian, a UCLA commit, will fire the ball so hard from shortstop to first base that she’ll make “Uncle Tommy,” also known as quarterback Tom Brady, feel jealous.

Jonah Lipel of West Hills Chaminade will become a star kicker at Harvard as a freshman while studying to become a doctor.

Brice Turang of Corona Santiago will be a first-round baseball draft pick and celebrate by heading to the batting cage.


The Venice passing combination of quarterback Luca Diamont and receiver Chad Johnson Jr. will be the best in the City Section.

NBA players Solomon Hill (Fairfax, New Orleans Pelicans) and Trevor Ariza (Westchester, Houston Rockets) will promise to sing the other’s alma mater depending on who wins the Jan. 12 Fairfax-Westchester basketball game.

For the opening of its new football stadium, St. John Bosco will host an Air Force B-2 Stealth Bomber flyover while a sportswriter frets in the press box whether the Braves will be wearing stealth numbers on their jerseys.

Former Sherman Oaks Notre Dame pitcher Hunter Greene will throw a fastball 102 mph, causing someone to say, “Ohtani who?”

The Ball brothers, Lonzo, LiAngelo and LaMelo, will face the Holiday brothers, Jrue, Justin and Aaron, in a three-on-three game for charity televised live on Facebook Watch.

Dorm life will never be the same when Oaks Christian unveils its new dorms in late 2018, including big screen TVs, Internet and steak fries for dinner.

The star of NCAA track and field will be former Vista Murrieta standout Michael Norman of USC.

Darren Jones, a 6-foot-8 receiver at Cajon who caught 102 passes as a junior, will dunk a football over the crossbar to celebrate a touchdown and the officials will be so stunned they won’t throw a flag.


The steal of the 2018 baseball draft will be former Mission Hills Alemany outfielder Alex McKenna of Cal Poly.

Former Gardena Serra tight end Caleb Wilson will become an All-American at UCLA.

Receiver Amon-ra St. Brown of Mater Dei will forget about announcing his college choice by picking from three hats. Instead, he’ll announce his selection in German and French and no one will need an interpreter when he says, “USC.”