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High School Sports

Narbonne tries to focus on summer training while head coach remains sidelined

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Narbonne football players gathered Saturday to participate in the Rams seven on seven passing tournament while their head coach remained unavailable because of a district investigation.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

Narbonne football players and assistant coaches engaged in a “business as usual” attitude on Saturday while competing in the Rams seven on seven passing tournament at El Camino College. Except there’s nothing routine about not having your head coach around.

“We’re all sticking together and waiting for our coach to come back,” quarterback Jake Garcia said.

Coach Manuel Douglas remains unavailable until the Los Angeles Unified School District gives him clearance to return. He was given a temporary reassignment of his duties on May 31.

The LAUSD announced last month that it had launched an investigation into an allegation of academic misconduct at the Harbor City high school and that three staff members were reassigned.

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Until Douglas returns, the school has named former defensive coordinator Joe Aguirre as interim coach. Aguirre had stopped coaching several years ago for family reasons. (He has a 6-year-old.)

“Our job is to steer the ship until Manny comes back,” he said.

Narbonne has won five consecutive City Section Open Division championships and is poised to win a sixth. The team has a surplus of outstanding defensive backs and receivers. The Gauchos even showed off a rising sophomore linebacker in Taariq Al-Uqdah, who recently picked up an offer from USC.

Two players who won’t be with Narbonne are running backs Jojuan Collins and Seven McGee. Aguirre said Collins left school in April and McGee, who played last year in New York before transferring to Narbonne, is back in New York.

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Venice transfer Chad Johnson Jr. was making an immediate impact for L.A. Cathedral playing receiver on Saturday.

One of the most intriguing players was 6-foot-4, 245-pound junior Ja’Quez Harvey of Locke. He’s a defensive end, but coach Michael Klyce is trying him at quarterback, and Harvey was showing off a strong arm.

An impressive player was junior Calen Bullock of Pasadena Muir playing defensive back and receiver.

In the end, Narbonne played Cathedral for the championship. They were the two teams demonstrating the most speed and athleticism all day. Cathedral won the championship, led by their new quarterback, Lucas Lenhoff, a sophomore transfer from Calabasas.

Next week both schools head to Huntington Beach Edison for the Battle of the Beach on Saturday.

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Gauchos training without their head coach
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