Prep Rally: Seven-on-seven football will give us plenty to watch

Hart junior receiver Shawn Irwin. Brother Trent plays for the Cincinnati Bengals.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Prep Rally. My name is Eric Sondheimer. The summer is a great time to watch seven-on-seven football to see what new skill position players might make an impact in the fall. Every week through July 23, there’s a competition. I hope to provide some new players to watch.

Another Irwin with great hands

When Hart pulled out a seven-on-seven victory earlier this month on an acrobatic last-play touchdown catch by a wide receiver, you only needed to move closer to take a look at the face of the receiver to realize he was related to the Indians’ former great receiver, Trent Irwin, who went on to Stanford and the NFL.

Brother Shawn, separated by 10 years, has the same great hands and great grades as Trent. He’s only a junior and figures to be picking up receptions in bunches this fall.


Another receiver set for a big season is Ajani Smith of Golden Valley. He has size and quickness. He caught six touchdown passes last season.

Josiah Phillips has returned to playing receiver for Sierra Canyon after focusing on basketball last season. It may be the best decision for his sports future. His length makes him a terrific target.

Pasadena won the Colony tournament this week.

Coming up on Saturday at Central Park in Saugus is the yearly Saugus tournament.

Body by Sinn

Sinn Brennan, a 6-foot-5, 235-pound defensive end and fullback at Los Alamitos, decided he wanted to go all out in changing the shape of his body.

He signed up to spend nine weeks in Phoenix training with Chad Ikei, who was Larry Fitzgerald’s trainer. He was sleeping on a floor with a bunch of aspiring pro athletes doing twice a day training, six days a week.

His brother plays professionally in Japan and has been working out with Ikei. The results are pretty stunning with lots of new muscle and no new weight.

“It’s just a better weight,” he said. “And my explosivity is through the roof.”

Los Alamitos has high expectations of being the top public school in Southern Section Division 1, and Brennan will be a key player on offense and defense.

“We are going for the natty,” he said.

He’s already won the natty for dedication and determination to make his senior year a memorable one.



Dalia Frias of Mira Costa leads the girls' 3200 meter run at the Arcadia track and field invitational. (
ARCADIA, CA - APRIL 9, 2022: Dalia Frias of Mira Costa leads the girls’ 3200 meter run at the Arcadia track and field invitational. (Michael Owen Baker / For The Times)
(Michael Owen Baker/Michael Owen Baker / For The Tim)

Dalia Frias of Mira Costa never got to run the 3,200 at the state championships after being disqualified at the Southern Section prelims when she was late for her prelim race.

Now she can feel a little bit better after breaking the girls’ national high school record for two miles with a time of 9:50.70 at the Brooks PR meet in Seattle this past week.

Newbury Park’s Colin Sahlman ran a season-best mark of 1:48.07 in the boys’ 800.

In Pennsylvania, Rodrick Pleasant of Gardena Serra ran a wind-aided 10.23 to place second in the 100 meters at the New Balance Nationals Outdoors. Serra’s Brazil Neal placed sixth in the girls’ 100.
At the Nike Outdoors Nationals in Oregon, Carson’s Reign Redmond finished fifth in the 100 in 11.69.

Los Alamitos freshman Devin Bragg ran 10.68 in the 100 to finish fourth.


Harvard Westlake guard Brady Dunlap, right,
Harvard Westlake guard Brady Dunlap, right, celebrates with fans on the court after leading the Wolverines to a win over Sierra Canyon.
(Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

At the Section 7 tournament in Phoenix, Harvard-Westlake came out for its first summer basketball action after taking a two-week dead period and didn’t forget about executing in the final seconds, which is a good sign for when it really counts.


Robert Hinton and Brady Dunlap each made last-second baskets to deliver victories in the first two games for the Wolverines, who advanced to the championship game against two-time defending Southern Section Open Division champion Corona Centennial. It was a rematch in the desert of this past season’s final between the two schools.

And Centennial isn’t about to lose championship games any time soon with Duke-bound guard Jared McCain still around to orchestrate things. He scored 25 points. Centennial won 59-49. “McCain was really good,” Harvard-Westlake coach David Rebibo said. So were Devin Williams and Aaron McBride.

McCain was coming off winning a gold medal playing for USA 18U national team.

Another school advancing to its bracket championship game was Sherman Oaks Notre Dame behind transfer students Mercy Miller and Caleb Foster and returnee Dusty Stromer. They’re committed to Houston, Duke and Gonzaga. Notre Dame lost to Bishop Gorman 60-56 in the final.

Loyola made it to its final after a close victory over Ontario Colony to go to 3-0. Sophomore Jaedyn Patterson provided two game-winning shots.

Rancho Verde won its bracket championship. Jacob McFarland, who’s 6 feet 11, was impressive. He picked up a scholarship offer from Washington State. San Gabriel Academy and Valencia also won bracket championships.


The Maranatha tournament begins on Monday and goes through Saturday.

Happy 100th birthday

Former Chatsworth assistant baseball coach Chuck Hatfield, here in 2017, turns 100 on Wednesday.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

Former Chatsworth assistant baseball coach Chuck Hatfield celebrated his 100th birthday on Wednesday with friends and ex-players celebrating at Mason Park.

Here’s a story from 2017 explaining the impact Hatfield had at Chatsworth and his players.

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Notes . . .

Ty Dieffenbach, a 6-foot-5 quarterback at Agoura, has committed to UNLV.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

Agoura quarterback Ty Dieffenbach has committed to UNLV. The 6-foot-5 senior is a converted receiver and two-sport standout who also pitches. . . .

Former Sierra Canyon and St. John Bosco basketball player Jeremiah Nyarko has committed to new coach Steve Lavin at San Diego.

The Southern Section announced it will waive sports fees for member schools for 2022-23 because of improving financial conditions. . . .

Tyler Bey, who led Fairfax to a City Section Open Division basketball championship last season, is back playing with the Lions this summer even though he originally said he would reclassify and enroll in a prep school. He has apparently decided to seek a fifth year of eligibility and must get a waiver from the City Section. . . .

Dana Vasquez has resigned as softball coach at Sherman Oaks Notre Dame to become athletic director at Brentwood. She spent 19 years at Notre Dame. . . .


Tight end Spencer Shannon of Santa Ana Mater Dei has committed to Texas. . . .

Ventura offensive lineman Tobias Raymond, 6-7, 270 pounds, has committed to USC. . . .

Defensive end Carson Mott of Simi Valley has committed to Colorado. . . .

Running back Brandon Johnson from Highland has committed to Arizona. . . .

Running back/400-meter runner Dijon Stanley of Granada Hills has committed to Utah. . . .

Former Santa Ana Mater Dei and UCLA outfielder Ty Moore has been hired as the baseball coach at Page High in Greensboro, N.C. . . .

West Ranch won the No. 1 division for the War on the Floor basketball tournament, defeating Taft in the final. The arrival of 7-foot-1 Jazz Gardner from Los Altos has put West Ranch among the elite teams for the new season ahead. . . .

Justin Deblasio is the new boys’ volleyball coach at San Clemente after spending 11 years at Santa Margarita. . . .

Quarterback Javance Tupou’ata-Johnson of Chaminade has committed to San Diego State. . . .

Former West Ranch and UCLA pitcher Jake Bird made his major league debut for the Colorado Rockies. . . .

Cypress has promoted assistant Terry Thompson to softball head coach. . . .

Basketball coach Nick Racklin is the new athletic director at Marina. . . .

Todd Quincey is the new football coach at Bassett.

From the archives: Jacob Gonzalez

There weren’t many high school hitters better than Jacob Gonzalez during his days at Glendora High.

He chose Mississippi and immediately made an impact, starting 67 games his freshman year in 2021 at shortstop and was named freshman of the year by DI baseball.

He gets to play in the College World Series this week. He’s batting .278 with 17 home runs. He had one hit on Saturday in a 5-1 win over Auburn.


From the San Jose Mercury News, a story on the effects of playing team sports, individual sports or playing no sports has for a child on mental health.


From, a story on Texas declining to add a shot clock in high school basketball and rejecting a ban on freshmen playing varsity sports.

From, a state by state look at rules for high school athletes and NIL regulations.

From, a story on former St. Bonaventure coach Todd Therrien dealing with a tragic accident that left him in quadriplegic state.

From Bill Plaschke, a wonderful story on the inspiring speech by Sandy Koufax on the unveiling of his statue at Dodger Stadium.

Tweets you might have missed


Until next time...

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