Prep Rally: It’s time to prepare for 2022-23 high school sports season

MISSION VIEJO, CA - SEPTEMBER 17: Quarterback Malachi Nelson (7), of Los Alamitos.
USC-bound Malachi Nelson of Los Alamitos will be participating in summer seven on seven competitions.
(Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Prep Rally. My name is Eric Sondheimer. The 2021-22 high school sports season is officially over. It’s time to prepare for 2022-23 with a busy schedule of summer activities. I will try to keep you informed while looking back, looking ahead and taking a little break, too, over the next two months. The newsletter will continue every week leading up to the start of football season.

Let the summer begin

Sometimes the summer can be busier than the regular season. You have to pick and choose how many games you want to play or attend while making sure the body and mind heals.


There are lots of basketball competitions in June. Section 7 takes place June 16-19 in Phoenix. Many local teams will be participating with the idea they’ll be playing in front of college recruiters.

The War on the Floor tournament is June 9-14 at Burbank High.

Fairfax is hosting a 12-team tournament beginning June 11. Pasadena Maranatha will have a 32-team tournament Jun 20-25. St. John Bosco is hosting a 14-team tournament June 21-25.

Burbank Burroughs will be hosting a weekly girls’ basketball league.

Football seven-on-seven competitions will take place almost every weekend in July but others will begin this month. On Saturday. Simi Valley hosted a group of Ventura County teams. On June 25 are tournaments at Central Park in Saugus and Glendale High.

Then comes a busy July. St. John Bosco is hosting a tournament July 2. The Edison tournament, usually the best in the Southland, takes place July 9. On the same day, Simi Valley is hosting a 16-team tournament and Redondo Union has a 12-team tournament. On July 16, Mission Viejo has a tournament. So does El Camino Real. Huntington Beach hosts its tournament on July 23.


Colleges are hosting football camps in June, including USC and UCLA.

In baseball, the Area Code games will take place Aug. 6-11 at the University of San Diego.

The USA Volleyball junior nationals for girls is June 23-July 4 in Indianapolis. The USA nationals for boys is June 30-July 7 in Las Vegas.

The Junior Olympics in water polo will be in July in Northern California and Dallas.


Huntington Beach players celebrate after defeating JSerra for the Division 1 regional baseball title on June 4, 2022.
(Nick Koza)

What an ending to the 2022 baseball season. Huntington Beach and JSerra engaged in quite a scoreless duel for seven innings in the Southern California Division 1 regional final. Then Ralph Velazquez of Huntington Beach hit a two-run home run in the eighth and the Oilers came away with the 2-0 victory.

Here’s the report.

Estancia won its first regional title, taking Division 5. Here’s a report.

A couple of revelations we learned from the regional playoffs:

JSerra returns some 20 players and starts out as the clear No. 1 team for 2023, led by pitcher JJ Hollis (9-0) and shortstop Jonathan Mendez.

Freshman Brady Ebel of Etiwanda left little doubt he was the No. 1 freshman in Southern California. He was 6-0 on the mound with an 0.32 ERA and batted .330 with 36 RBIs and five home runs.


Huntington Beach had its own outstanding freshman in Trent Grindlinger, who had two hits in the final against JSerra.


Oaks Christian finished 34-1 and won the Division I softball regional.
(Marvin Jimenez )

What a softball season it was for Oaks Christian and coach Pete Ackermann. The Lions finished 34-1 and won the Division I regional championship with a 6-5 win over Roosevelt.

Micaela Kastor pitched and hit the Lions to near perfection.

Here’s the link to other regional champions.

City Section coaches meet

Josh Ward scores on a two-yard run to put San Pedro on the scoreboard in a 2019 game.
Josh Ward scores on a two-yard run to put San Pedro on the scoreboard first in Friday night’s City Section Open Division semifinal against Birmingham on Nov. 22, 2019.
(Steve Galluzzo / For The Times)

The City Section held its annual football coaches meeting via Zoom on Thursday, and let’s just say it’s no easy task to be a head coach with all the requirements and responsibilities just to get players on the field.

Head coaches can make a stipend of as much as $5,622 this season thanks to the raise passed earlier this year.


Among the points of emphasis and challenges ahead:

It is important for schools to restart their junior varsity programs. Many went dormant during COVID-19 restrictions. The requirement is a minimum of 18 players on JV and 18 on varsity. “Get JV’s back. That’s going to make our programs stronger,” said Shane Cox, who coordinates football for the City Section.

Here’s the complete story.

East L.A. Classic moves to Coliseum

Roosevelt linebacker Carlos Velasquez celebrates after making a game-sealing interception.
Roosevelt linebacker Carlos Velasquez celebrates after making a game-sealing interception during a 22-19 victory over rival Garfield in the East L.A. Classic at East Los Angeles College on Oct. 29, 2021.
(Luca Evans / For The Times)

The annual East L.A. Classic matching Roosevelt against Garfield in football is moving from East L.A. College to the Coliseum on Oct. 21 at 7:30 p.m.

“I’m ecstatic our kids can play in such an historic venue,” Garfield coach Lorenzo Hernandez said.

The game is expected to be one of several from the City Section played at the Coliseum this fall.

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Notes . . .

Defensive back Jshawn Frausto-Ramos of St. John Bosco has committed to Stanford. . . .

Claire Sonne is the new girls’ water polo coach at Laguna Beach. . . .

Colin Pfaff has resigned as basketball at Windward after six years to move his family to Northern California, where he’ll take over as head coach at Valley Christian in San Jose. Look for more than 100 applicants to replace him. . . .

St. John Bosco’s already loaded secondary got even stronger after standout cornerback Aaron Williams checked out of Corona Centennial to join the Braves. Another player, junior tight end Camden Jones from Maranatha, also is transferring to St. John Bosco. . . .

Rai Colston, who guided El Camino Real to the City Division I girls’ basketball championships, has been let go. El Camino Real earlier replaced boys’ basketball coach Joe Wyatt. The person in charge of the school’s charter board is Brad Wright, a former UCLA and NBA player. . . .

Tyler Meek, an assistant boys’ basketball coach at Royal, has been promoted to head coach. . . .

Mackenly Randolph and Juju Watkins, both from Sierra Canyon, have been selected to play for the USA U17 national basketball team that will participate in the world championships in Hungary this summer. . . .

Former Chatsworth coach Tom Meusborn has taken over as head baseball coach at Sierra Canyon. He won eight City titles with Chatsworth and has been serving as associate head coach with Sierra Canyon. Jerry Royster is retiring. Meusborn just retired as a teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District. . . .

Richard Gibbs has retired as track coach at Servite. . . .

Mike Price will not be returning to Sierra Canyon for his senior basketball season. He has attended Crespi, Ribet, Sierra Canyon and will be at his fourth school. . . . .

From the archives: Paul Skenes

Paul Skenes was a 6-foot-7 pitcher/catcher at El Toro.
Paul Skenes was a 6-foot-7 pitcher/catcher at El Toro. He stuck with his commitment to Air Force and helped his college team make its first NCAA playoff appearance since 1969.

(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

Paul Skenes was an extraordinary baseball player at El Toro. He was 6 feet 7 and played pitcher and catcher. He could hit with the best and throw with the best. He committed to Air Force in 2020. And what an impact he has had in college.

He helped Air Force win the Mountain West Conference and earn its first NCAA baseball playoff berth since 1969.

Entering this past week, he was batting .326 with 12 home runs. He was also leading the team on the mound with a 10-2 record and 2.42 ERA.

Here’s a story from 2020 on Skenes in high school and explaining why he wanted to attend Air Force.


From, 10 story lines for Texas high school football.


From the Los Angeles Times, a story on former UCLA and Montclair Prep basketball player Josiah Johnson and how he’s become big on NBA Twitter.

From Scorebooklive, a story on former Long Beach Poly and USC running back Herschel Dennis becoming a high school coach in Washington.

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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