Prep Rally: Soccer moves into the spotlight

David Diaz plans to play for his club soccer team, his school soccer team and kick for the football team.
Birmingham senior David Diaz plans to play for his club soccer team, his school soccer team and kick for the football team.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Prep Rally. My name is Eric Sondheimer. The last big club soccer tournament took place this past weekend, so it’s time for high school soccer to move into high gear. Last season was so fun to watch with Mira Costa and Birmingham fighting it out for No. 1 and No. 2 in boys and Harvard-Westlake No. 1 in girls. Who will be tops this season?

Birmingham looks strong

Birmingham senior David Diaz is one of the best soccer players.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

When Lake Balboa Birmingham held soccer tryouts this year, more than 150 students showed up. You would have thought free Nike shoes were going to be given out.


“It’s very hectic and sometimes you miss a few,” coach EB Madha said. “We know what we are looking for.”

The only two students to make the varsity were freshmen Adrian Diaz and Steven Ramos. Twelve others made junior varsity. That’s says something about the soccer talent walking around the campus of Birmingham, the defending City Section champion that lost just one game last season in overtime to Manhattan Beach Mira Costa for the Southern California Regional championship.

“This team could be as good as last year’s team,” Madha said.

Leading scorer Enrique Pineda (23 goals) is back. So is David Diaz, the Patriots’ best player known for his precision passes and ability to create scoring opportunities when teams decide to focus on stopping him. Also back is junior Cristian Moran, who showed impressive scoring ability.

Here’s the link to boys and girls players to watch.

Football bowl games

The CIF state regional playoffs begin this week in football. Pairings were announced on Sunday.

The Open Division championship game will be played on Dec. 11 at Saddleback College. Santa Ana Mater Dei will face San Mateo Serra.

Here’s the link to other matchups.

Here’s the link to a story on the matchups.

The most fan pleasing game will take place Saturday when Long Beach Poly plays at Gardena Serra. They’ve had some great games in recent years.

Mater Dei faces lawsuit

Mater Dei coach Bruce Rollinson celebrates after his team defeated Servite to win Division 1 title.
(Nick Koza)

A former Mater Dei football player’s family filed a lawsuit last week that described a culture of hazing within the the program that left their son with a traumatic brain injury.

Here’s the link to the story.

Bill Plaschke saw the video of the incident and offers his opinion what Mater Dei should do. Here’s the link to his column.

Football rewind

Arlis Boardingham stills the ball away from the San Pedro defender in the end zone for a Birmingham touchdown.
(Craig Weston)

It was championship week, and Lake Balboa Birmingham completed a total domination of the eight City Section opponents it faced this season by winning the Open Division championship with a 24-14 win over San Pedro. Heavily recruited Arlis Boardingham had two memorable touchdown catches. Here’s the link to the story on Birmingham’s triumph.

Venice won its first City title for coach Angelo Gasca, taking Division I. Here’s the link to story.

El Camino Real, after going 0-6 last spring, won the City Division II title behind quarterback Ryan Feinberg. Here’s the link.

Taft, which started the year with a 26-game losing streak, won the City Division III title behind quarterback Wellington Bristow. Here’s the link.

In the Southern Section, Mater Dei’s defense came through in a 27-7 win over Servite in the Division 1 final. Here’s the link.

In Division 2, Orange Lutheran and Bishop Alemany engaged in a memorable finale won by Orange Lutheran 38-35. Here’s the link.

In Division 5, Valencia won its first title for coach Larry Muir. Here’s the link.

Here’s the link to championship scores for Southern Section and City Section.

The catch

It’s rare in high school to capture a great sports moment with both video and precision photography. That happened with the touchdown catch by 6-foot-5 Arlis Boardingham of Birmingham in the City Section Open Division championship game.

Photographer Craig Weston took a sequence of shots that showed how Boardingham was able to catch the ball over San Pedro cornerback Kejuan Bullard, a recent San Jose State commit. It was his size, athleticism and hands that made the difference. Boardingham is being recruited by Notre Dame, Texas and USC, among others.

Arlis Boardingham of Birmingham made amazing catch in City Open Division final. Here's first sequence.
(Craig Weston)
Arlis Boardingham of Birmingham. Sequence two on his catch against San Pedro and Kejuan Bullard.
(Craig Weston)
Arlis Boardingham of Birmingham completes magnificent catch in end zone for touchdown against San Pedro.
(Craig Weston)

Enjoying this newsletter?

Your support helps us deliver the news that matters most. Become a Los Angeles Times subscriber.

Lincoln Riley shakes up recruiting

Lincoln Riley knows Southern California high school football recruiting. The Oklahoma coach is set to become USC’s coach and already has made inroads in Southland recruiting. It would be no surprise if high school prospects committed to Oklahoma suddenly become USC recruits.

Most notable is Santa Ana Mater Dei running back Raleek Brown, who considered USC before committing to Oklahoma. He’s having a terrific senior season for the Southern Section Division 1 champions and tweeted, “Staying home?” Sunday as news broke about Riley’s move to USC

Then there’s three class of 2023 prospects from Los Alamitos who have been committed to Oklahoma, led by quarterback Malachi Nelson. Here’s the link to a look at recruiting changes coming.

Boys’ basketball

Sierra Canyon and Corona Centennial each made a road trip to Texas to play highly regarded Duncanville. Neither came away with a victory. Sierra Canyon won’t be a full strength until the sit-out period ends for transfer students at the end of next month.

This week’s top 25 rankings by The Times.

1. SIERRA CANYON (4-1); Home games this week vs. West Ranch, Beverly Hills; 1

2. CORONA CENTENNIAL (4-1); Close loss to Duncanville in Texas; 2

3. HARVARD-WESTLAKE (4-0); Waiting for guard Cameron Thrower to return; 3

4. ETIWANDA (1-0); 6-6 Curtis Williams will have big season;4

5. SHERMAN OAKS NOTRE DAME (7-1); Dusty Stromer and Ben Shtolzberg off to good starts;5

For the remaining teams, here’s the link.

The boys and girls basketball teams for Sierra Canyon and Fairfax will get to play at Staples Center on Saturday as part of four high school games. Here’s the link to information on the event.

Girls’ basketball

Londynn Jones of Corona Centennial drives against Windward on Monday night.
(Nick Koza)

Etiwanda made a move upwards with a win over La Jolla Country Day at Redondo Union. That stamps the Eagles as a real threat to Corona Centennial and Sierra Canyon in girls’ basketball. Centennial lost to Country Day.

Sierra Canyon continues on an upswing even though it is waiting for Juju Watkins to become eligible on Dec. 27. Windward, led by Skye Belker, lost a close game to Centennial but came back to beat Rosary. Mater Dei is quietly building up for big games ahead.


Newbury Park team members celebrate a state cross country championship.

Fans came from across the state to see a historic team performance from Newbury Park at the state cross-country championships.

Coach Sean Brosnan had kept the wraps on his runners at the Southern Section finals when his top six boys’ runners took the first six places in the three-mile Division 1 race, but this time he let everyone know they were cleared to run as fast as they could.

For the first two miles, four Newbury Park runners were separated by a mere second. The nearest non-Newbury Park runner was eight seconds behind. By the finish, Newbury Park had swept the top four spots to win the team title with a state-record 16 points. The old record was 23 points by Thousand Oaks in 1993. The team time of 73:23 also was a course record.

Here’s the rundown on an historic day in Fresno.

Notes . . .

Point guard Kayla Cabaccang of Chaminade has committed to Irvine Concordia. . . .

Junior pitcher/outfielder Garvey Rumary of El Dorado has committed to San Diego State. . . .

Longtime Culver City assistant football coach Greg Goodyear died last week after a six-year bout with cancer. He was 69. He loved Culver City football and served as a quarterback coach. . . .

From the archives: The Garbers

It was the Garbers bowl on Saturday at the Rose Bowl, where former Corona del Mar quarterback Chase Garbers started for Cal and younger brother Ethan was the backup for UCLA. Both had great success in high school in Newport Beach. UCLA won the game 42-14 and Ethan played in a reserve role while Chase started for Cal.

Here’s a story from 2016 on Chase Garbers.

Here’s a story from 2019 on Ethan Garbers.


From, a survey explains what sports students want, including, get this, archery.

From, a profile on former Mater Dei quarterback Bryce Young.

From, a story on Long Beach Poly defensive back Daylen Austin.

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.

Did you get this newsletter forwarded to you? To sign up and get it in your inbox, click here.