Prep Rally: There are some intriguing championship football matchups

Floyd Chalk of Bishop Alemany has been running wild and has team in Division 2 final.
(Nick Koza )

Hi, and welcome to Prep Rally. My name is Eric Sondheimer. It’s championship week in high school football. There will be 14 championships decided in 11-man Southern Section football and three in the City Section this weekend. Let’s take a look at some intriguing matchups.

Going for championships

Houston Thomas (left) with his father, Servite coach Troy Thomas, last August during Trinity League media day.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

It won’t get any better than Trinity League rivals Servite and Mater Dei facing off for the Southern Section Division 1 championship game on Friday night at Long Beach Veterans Stadium. They were involved in perhaps the best game of the regular season in which Mater Dei prevailed 46-37. Of course, the big news was Servite beating St. John Bosco, which was trying to reach the championship game for the eighth consecutive season.


Here’s a look at Houston Thomas, the Servite running back who also happens to be the son of Servite coach Troy Thomas.

Here’s the story from Mater Dei defeating Corona Centennial in the semifinals.

In the City Section, Birmingham will play San Pedro for the Open Division championship on Saturday at Pierce College. Birmingham is seeded No. 5 and San Pedro No. 2.

Here’s the story on San Pedro’s semifinal victory over Palisades.

There’s lots of intriguing championship games, including Bishop Alemany, led by running back Floyd Chalk, hosting Orange Lutheran in Division 2.

Here’s the link to complete schedule.

The Southern Section championship luncheon is Monday in Long Beach, where all the finalists come, bring along a couple of players and enjoy a buffet.



Jared McCain of Corona Centennial dribbles against Sherman Oaks Notre Dame.
(Nick Koza)

It was a busy and productive opening week for high school basketball.

For the girls, Bishop Montgomery and Sierra Canyon had impressive openers, then met on Saturday in a big early season matchup that Sierra Canyon won.

For the boys, Sherman Oaks Notre Dame decided to test itself with matchups of top 10 teams Heritage Christian and Corona Centennial. Centennial showed on Sunday it remains Sierra Canyon’s most dangerous future opponent with a rout of Notre Dame.

Unranked teams that were impressive in the opening week: Village Christian won the Cantwell-Sacred Heart tournament with wins over St. Francis and Cajon. Loyola won the Providence tournament, knocking off Oak Park. Santa Margarita went 4-0. Riverside Poly made it to the finals of the Sunny Hills tournament before losing to Damien.

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Marymount finishes 35-0

Los Angeles Marymount High players celebrate moments after sweeping San Jose Archbishop Mitty.
Los Angeles Marymount High players celebrate moments after sweeping San Jose Archbishop Mitty to win the CIF Open Division state championship and complete an undefeated season on Nov. 20, 2021, at Santiago College.
(Steve Galluzzo / For The Times)

Perfection is hard to do in any sport, even in girls’ volleyball, but that’s what Los Angeles Marymount accomplished this season, going 35-0 with Southern Section and state championships.

Here’s the link to a story detailing Marymount’s fabulous season.

Making a difference

Vaughan Anoa'i, 17, left, at Archer School for Girls.
Vaughan Anoa’i, 17, left, at Archer School for Girls.
(Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times)

Vaughan Anoa’i didn’t want the money back.

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, her club team, Sunshine Volleyball, was issuing refunds to its players for no-longer-necessary travel expenses. Covering funds for plane tickets, hotels and meals, it was a hefty sum. Yet upon getting the news via email, Anoa’i called her coach, Cari Klein, telling her the club could keep the contribution to cover the cost of another player’s trip in the future.

Klein was stunned. Club volleyball is incredibly expensive, but for girls who are hoping to play in college, it’s necessary. Eventually, Anoa’i’s contribution helped pay for a teammate whose family had been hit hard by the pandemic, Klein said.

“She got to go on two trips because of Vaughan’s generosity,” Klein said. “It’s life-changing for these kids.”

Anoa’i, a senior at the Archer School for Girls who signed with Georgetown, is staying in the life-changing business. She’s launching a charity initiative called Block Back, planning to donate $25 for every block she will total over the final two seasons of her club career. Anoa’i plans to donate about $6,000.

Here’s a profile on a teenager hoping to make a difference.

Girls’ golf

Leigh Chien of Irvine University and Ashley Yun of Walnut finished the 18-hole CIF state championship girls’ golf final tied at 3-under-par at Poppy Hills last week, forcing a playoff. Both had shot 68.

Chien won on the first hole with a birdie to win the individual tile.

Granite Bay took the team championship. Troy finished fourth and Sherman Oaks Notre Dame sixth.

Here’s the link to complete results.

Girls’ tennis

Sisters Johanna and Juliana Galinda from Marshall High met in the City Section individual girls’ tennis championship last week. Juliana, a sophomore, defeated Juliana, a freshman, 6-4, 6-4.

It was the first time a Marshall student has won the City title since 1974.

In the doubles final, the Palisades team of Iris Berman and Reese Trepanier finished as champion.


Birmingham soccer returnees Enrique Pineda (left) and Cristian Moran.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

City Section boys’ soccer might be the most competitive, high-quality competition season after season. The teams, the players and the coaches fear no one, including Southern Section teams.

Last year Birmingham won the upper-division championship and made it to the Southern California regional championship game before losing to Mira Costa in overtime in a memorable regional final.

The Patriots will be tough to beat again with leading scorer Enrique Pineda returning. He had 23 goals. Also back is David Diaz, one of the most feared forwards anywhere. He had 21 goals. Cristian Moran was just beginning to show off his skills as a sophomore. And a couple of outstanding freshmen have arrived.

Here’s a look at other teams to watch.


Newbury Park runners at Southern Section prelims.
Newbury Park runners at Southern Section prelims: Aaron Sahlman (left), Leo Young, Colin Sahlman (behind), Zaki Blunt, Daniel Appleford, Lex Young.
(Dylan Stewart / PrepCalTrack)

History was made Saturday at the Southern Section cross-country championships at Mt. San Antonio College. The first six finishers in the Division 1 boys’ race were from Newbury Park High. Talk about pushing each other to perfection — the Panthers have taken that attitude to a new level under coach Sean Brosnan.

The Panthers finished with a perfect 15 to win the Division 1 team title. It’s never been done before. The pack of Newbury Park runners was led by Colin Sahlman, who won in 14 minutes 52.6 seconds. Then came Lex Young (14:52.7), Aaron Sahlman (14:52.8), Leo Young (14.52.9), Daniel Appleford (14.59.2) and Dev Doshi (15:00.1). Just wait until next week’s state championships in Clovis when Brosnan really lets them try to run their fastest times.

Here’s a rundown on Southern Section and City Section finals. The state championships are Friday at Woodward Park in Fresno. Brosnan is promising to let his runners run as fast as they want. That should produce another historic day.

From Uganda to L.A.

Siblings Rosemary, Jude and Molly Sandridge.
Siblings Rosemary, Jude and Molly Sandridge grew up in Uganda, were adopted by an American family and are running cross country at Reseda High.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

Under a navy blue Reseda High cross-country canopy, sophomore Jude Sandridge placed his right arm around the shoulder of his freshman sister, Rosemary, and his left arm around the shoulder of his junior sister, Molly. Their smiles were genuine and offered a tiny hint of how much they love running, a sport they didn’t discover until moving from Uganda after they were adopted by an American family.

Rosemary came to the United States when she was 6 and the other two followed three years ago. Jude and Molly used to walk three miles to school, sometimes barefoot, from a village outside Fort Portal, Uganda, 184 miles west of Kampala. Their village was at the base of the Rwenzori Mountains, where gorilla tracking takes place.

They lived in Raleigh, N.C., until arriving for the first day of school at Reseda in August. Cross-country coach Damien Mendoza said he received an email from their father telling him the siblings wanted to go out for cross-country and track. At first, he was not impressed with Jude’s times. Everything changed after he finally saw Jude run.

“I said, ‘He has a natural stride,’” Mendoza said.

On Saturday, Jude finished third in the City Section Division III final to qualify for this week’s state championships.

Here’s a report on his journey.

Notes . . .

Former Agoura guard Jed Miller has committed to Montana State. . . .

Sprinter Maya Shinnick of Glendora signed with UC Davis. Her brother has run for USC. . . .

Muir is looking for a new football coach after the departure of coach Zaire Calvin. . . .

JSerra will be the site for the SoCal Challenge NCAA Division I basketball tournament Monday and Tuesday. TCU, Pepperdine, Fresno State, Cal Poly SLO, Santa Clara, Idaho, Utah Valley and Nicholls State get to spend a couple days in San Juan Capistrano. . . .

Long Beach Veterans Stadium will be the site for Friday’s Southern Section Division 1 championship football game. Pierce College will be the site for Saturday’s City Section Open Division championship football game. . . .

Mike Price has been cleared to play basketball for Sierra Canyon this season. He transferred from Ribet. He’s the fourth transfer to be eligible for the Trailblazers, joining Kijani Wright (Windward), Isaiah Elohim (Heritage Christian) and Jeremiah Nyarko (St. John Bosco). Elohim and Nyarko won’t be eligible until Dec. 26. . . . .

Newport Harbor won the Southern California Regional Division I boys’ water polo championship. Here’s the link to compete results.

From the archives: St. John Bosco going 16-0

It has been eight years since one of the best high school football teams ever in California went 16-0. It was the 2013 season, and the St. John Bosco Braves were led by quarterback Josh Rosen and a great defense.

The Open Division bowl game against De La Salle was so memorable, if not only for the 16,791 fans who filled up the StubHub Center in Carson. The game lived up to the hype.

St. John Bosco needed an interception from Gavin Windes to secure the 20-14 victory.

Here’s a story leading up to the game.

Here’s my story proclaiming the Braves the best high school football team in history.


From, the story on two high school basketball players from Georgia arrested on murder charges.

From the San Jose Mercury News, a story on Concord De La Salle winning its 29th consecutive section football championship.

From ESPN, a story on former Santa Ana Mater Dei quarterback Bryce Young breaking the Alabama single-game passing record.

Tweets you might have missed

Until next time...

Have a question, comment or something you’d like to see in a future Prep Rally newsletter? Email me at, and follow me on Twitter at @latsondheimer.

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