Prep Rally: You can learn a lot from David Long Jr.

David Long takes the field.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Prep Rally. My name is Eric Sondheimer. At 24, David Long Jr. became a Super Bowl champion. He grew up in Pasadena, ran the trails around the Rose Bowl trying to get better, went to Loyola High and Michigan. His story of becoming a champion at such a young age and the lessons learned are compelling

Lessons learned from David Long Jr.

Rams cornerbacks David Long Jr. celebrates his interception.
Los Angeles, California January 17, 2022: Rams cornerbacks David Long Jr. celebrates his interception for a touchdown against the Cardinals in the second quarter in a wild card game at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood Monday. (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times)
(Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times)

Growing up in Pasadena, David Long Jr.’s first football practice happened at age 5 on the grass outside of the Rose Bowl as a member of the Pasadena Trojans. He never imagined that one week after his 24th birthday, he’d be a Super Bowl champion as a starting cornerback for the Rams.


“Honestly, I’m so early in in my career, I can’t grasp what it means,” he said last week. “I don’t know what to compare it to.”

It was on the eve of the Super Bowl three weeks ago that the Rams held their final practice at the Rose Bowl. Talk about entering memory lane.

Long thought back to his days running the hills and trails in middle school and high school. He remembered watching Reggie Bush of USC against Texas in the 2006 national championship game. And he thought about that first practice in 2003.

“All those moments came full circle. This is my moment. Everything I’ve been working for is right here on this grass,” he said.

There are so many lessons to learn from a player who was an A student at Loyola High, three-year defensive back at Michigan and third-round NFL draft pick in 2019.

Here’s his story.

State championship returns

The CIF state basketball championships will return to Sacramento on Friday and Saturday for the first time since 2019.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

The last time the CIF state championships in basketball were held was 2019. After a two-year absence because of COVID-19, Golden 1 Center will host the 2022 state championships Friday and Saturday in Sacramento.

I expect a good turnout from fans wanting to experience a return to normalcy and support high school sports.

Regional finals will be held in Southern California and Northern California on Tuesday to set the final matchups.

Here’s the link to championship times for Friday and Saturday.

Basketball rewind

The Southern California regional championships in basketball will be held Tuesday at home sites.

Sierra Canyon came through to avenge a loss to Harvard-Westlake last month to earn an Open Division final spot against 30-1 Corona Centennial on Tuesday night. Here’s a report from that performance.

The girls’ finals feature a rematch in the Open Division between Etiwanda and Sierra Canyon.

Earlier in the week, JSerra’s Rob Diaz came through with a 37-point performance to eliminate City Section Open Division champion Fairfax. And sophomore Trent Perry of Harvard-Westlake made a key basket in a win over Santa Maria St. Joseph.

Johny Dan’s scoring surge

Johny Dan of Valley Torah is averaging more than 35 points a game during section and state playoffs.
Johny Dan of Valley Torah is averaging more than 35 points a game during section and state playoffs.
(Eli Essa)

Johny Dan, a junior guard for Valley Torah, has been unstoppable during the playoffs. In seven playoff games, he’s averaging 35 points and has led his team to the Southern California Division IV regional final against host San Diego Scripps Ranch.

Dan is a two-time All-CIF player who was the Southern Section Division V player of the year as a sophomore.

He had 24 points on Saturday night in a win over Long Beach Millikan.


First baseman Jack Gurevitch of Sherman Oaks Notre Dame.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

Jack Gurevitch of Sherman Oaks Notre Dame is earning the reputation as one of the best hitters in the Mission League over the last 10 years.

Harvard-Westlake coach Jared Halpert endorsed him after the Wolverines had trouble getting him out once again during a three-game series that saw Gurevitch hit a home run to right field and a home run to left field.

“You won’t find many hitters in high school better than him,” Notre Dame coach Tom Dill said.

Committed to the University of San Diego, Gurevitch is a senior first baseman who’s always having fun. When he ran to first and tripped over the bag and fell on his face, he jumped back up like he was doing an exercise in a gym. Rounding the bases after a home, he waved his arms. When he reached home, he put his between head two teammates. As he came to the dugout, he was surrounded by teammates.

“This is probably the most fun I’ve had on a baseball field,” Gurevitch said.

He has 10 hits and eight RBIs in eight games.

Notre Dame went 1-1-1 against Harvard-Westlake last week in the opening week of Mission League play.

Top 25 baseball rankings

This week’s top 25 high school baseball rankings by The Times.

Rk. SCHOOL (W-L); Comment (last week’s rank)

1. ORANGE LUTHERAN (5-0); Begin Trinity League vs. JSerra on Tuesday (1)

2. SERVITE (5-0); Jarrod Hocking is seven for 11 hitting (4)

3. YUCAIPA (5-2); Split series with Cajon (2

4. HARVARD-WESTLAKE (5-2-1); 6-foot-6 Will Gasparino is top hitter (3)

5. SIERRA CANYON (9-0); Sophomore Julian Areliz is off to fast start hitting (5)

6. CORONA (4-1); Andrew Walters had big game on Saturday (8)

Here’s the complete list.

17 strikeouts

Peter Michael of Chaminade struck out 17 and threw a no-hitter against St. Francis.
(Peter Michael)

The best pitching performance of the early high school baseball season was turned in Friday. Chaminade senior right-hander Peter Michael, a San Diego commit, struck out 17 batters and threw a no-hitter in the Eagles’ 1-0 win over St. Francis.

As a junior, Michael was rarely used on the mound, then was shut down late in the season. He has worked on improving his command and control and everything came together against St. Francis.


Mission Viejo has won its first 10 games.

Sophomore pitcher Sofia Elliott has been a standout for the Diablos.

Sherman Oaks Notre Dame has received a lift from freshman pitcher Sarah Jacobs, who is 3-0 with three shutouts.

Unbeaten Villa Park (5-0) resumes action this week with a game against Sonora.

Norco (1-3) is trying to find pitching help to go along with its strong hitting group.

Sophomore Madi Lardizabal of Chino Hills has nine hits in five games.

Enjoying this newsletter?

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


Servite finished off a memorable 2022 season by winning the Southern California Division I regional championship when Daniel Gutierrez scored the winning goal in overtime for a 2-1 victory over San Pasqual.

Servite also won the Southern Section Division 1 championship.

Here’s the complete list of regional soccer champions.


Loyola's Dillon Klein is above the net during a volleyball match.
(Brody Hannon)

Loyola made it to the final of the Best of the West tournament in Poway before losing to Arizona’s Sandra Day O’Connor.

USC-bound Dillon Klein and teammate Sean Kelly made the all-tournament team.


Unbeaten Redondo Union (5-0) is off to a terrific start in girls’ lacrosse. USC-bound Asjia Roberson is the player to watch.

Agoura and Loyola engaged in a competitive boys’ match, with Loyola winning 11-6.


Sherman Oaks Notre Dame was the site for the John Godina Invitational for shotput and discus.

Hope Gordon of Notre Dame won the girls’ shotput (42-7) and teammate April Fontenette won the discus (141-5).

For boys, Murrieta Mesa’s Cade Moran took the shotput (59-3) and South Pasadena’s Nik Iwankiw won the discus (177-9.5).

Mira Costa’s Dalia Frias set a record for the earliest breaking 10 minutes in the 3,200 for a female, running 9:59.94. Ventura freshman Sadie Engelhardt ran the 3,200 in 10:00.60 at the Don Green Invitational.

Hope in South Los Angeles

Pierre Campa (right) was adopted by Eddie Campa from Haiti when he was 18 months old and is now a promising junior golfer.
Pierre Campa (right) was adopted by Eddie Campa from Haiti when he was 18 months old and is now a promising junior golfer.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

In the middle of South Los Angeles, at a golf course located on Charlie Sifford Drive, a new generation of Black golfers showed up to display passion and commitment to learning and mastering the sport. One by one, boys and girls as young as 3 years old arrived.

Each had an inspiring story to tell while attending the Cameron Champ Foundation Junior Clinic at Chester Washington Golf Course.

There was 13-year-old Pierre Campa. He was 18 months old when the Campa family from Riverside adopted him in Haiti just days after that country’s destructive 2010 earthquake. At 5, he saw a movie on Netflix titled “The Short Game” about the best 7-year-old golfers competing at a Pinehurst Resort golf course in North Carolina. Suddenly he was hitting a ball in the house with a plastic flute. His father figured out he was trying to play golf. The rest is history.

Campa can drive a ball 250 yards, plays in junior tournaments and hangs out at a golf course in Jurupa Hills. He became a U.S. citizen, loves PGA star Jordan Spieth and wants to keep playing golf. His father, Eddie, has even learned the sport. “I learned to be a good caddy,” he said.

Here’s a look at other inspiring stories about young Black golfers learning the game of golf.

Comeback story

Freshman pitcher Ethan Flanagan of UCLA is back on the mound after not pitching since 2018 because of arm issues.
(Ross Turteltaub/UCLA Athletics

The return to pitching for freshman left-hander Ethan Flanagan of UCLA makes him one of college baseball’s best comeback stories for 2022.

He last pitched in a high school game his freshman year at Santa Margarita in 2018. In September of that year, he committed to UCLA. Arm trouble didn’t allow him to pitch in 2019, 2020 or 2021. He had Tommy John surgery in 2020.

“It was a very long process, to say the least,” Flanagan said. “I still always had confidence in myself. It was frustrating not to pitch, but I always believed I was good.”

Here’s the profile.

Price girls rise up

Freshman Jade Fort (left) and senior Kaziah Fletcher led the Price girls' basketball team this season.

The girls’ basketball season for Los Angeles Price began with four players on the roster. The team couldn’t play for two weeks until a fifth player joined.

By season’s end, Price was the Southern Section Division 5A champion with seven players on the team and made it to the Southern California Division V regional quarterfinals, losing to Chula Vista Victory Christian on Thursday night.

Coach Jillian Smith has high hopes this season will be the start of building a top program, especially behind freshman Jade Fort, who averaged 21 points a game and teamed with senior Kaziah Fletcher to lead the team to the 5A championship. The Knights finished 16-3 this season.

Smith’s nephew is Dorsey football coach Stafon Johnson. Price was once a boys’ basketball powerhouse under former coach Michael Lynch, winning 10 section titles and eight state titles.


Lincoln Melcher, junior golfer at Burroughs, was heartthrob for 13-year-old girls when he appeared on Disney "Bunk'd."
Lincoln Melcher was once a heartthrob for 13-year-old girls when he appeared on Disney Channel’s “Bunk’d.”
(Eric Sondheimer)

Burbank Burroughs golfer Lincoln Melcher, a UCLA commit, continues to show he can walk, chew gum and do many different things at the same time.

On Saturday night for Burroughs’ Pop Show, he sang “Thunder Road.”

Here’s the YouTube clip from his performance. He’s also the lead in the school production of “Into the Woods” March 18-20.

And he can putt.

Notes . . .

Chris Hyduke has been named football coach at Palisades. He was the interim coach this past season. . . .

John Fischer has resigned as basketball coach at Reseda Cleveland. . . .

Brandon Lincoln is the new basketball coach at Pasadena La Salle. He’s a former head coach at Burbank Providence who will continue serving as athletic director. . . .

Quarterback Richie Munoz has left La Salle and transferred to Charter Oak for his senior year. . . .

From the archives: Bryce Hamilton

UNLV's Bryce Hamilton drives against UCLA's Jules Bernard on Nov. 27, 2021, in Las Vegas.
(Ethan Miller / Getty Images)

Bryce Hamilton, the pride of Pasadena High, is having quite a senior season in basketball for UNLV. He’s averaging 21.8 points and entered this week having made 76 threes.

At Pasadena, he led the Bulldogs to four straight league championships, was the Pacific League player of the year and helped his team reach the Southern Section Division 1-A championship game as a junior.

This season, he had a 42-point game against Colorado State.


From, a story on Dallas area high school football coaches getting a raise, with starting salaries of $95,000.

From, a story on the benefits of long toss.

From the San Fernando Sun, a story on how Van Nuys Grant won its first City Section basketball title.

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.