Prep Rally: Mater Dei has the perfect quarterback

Mater Dei quarterback Elijah Brown runs for a touchdown against Corona Centennial.
Mater Dei quarterback Elijah Brown runs for a touchdown against Corona Centennial.
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Prep Rally. My name is Eric Sondheimer. It’s three weeks into the high school football season, and time to take a moment to appreciate the accomplishment of junior quarterback Elijah Brown of Santa Ana Mater Dei. He’s played in 20 games since his freshman season and never lost.


Mater Dei, the school with three quarterbacks who went on to win the Heisman Trophy, has another one who’s doing things John Huarte, Matt Leinart and Bryce Young never pulled off.

If a quarterback is judged solely by wins and losses, Elijah Brown has been perfect. He has started in 20 consecutive games since his freshman season and never lost.

“Let’s face it, I think my quarterback’s pretty damn good,” coach Bruce Rollinson said.

Big games bring out the best in Brown, who had three touchdown passes and ran for another in Mater Dei’s 43-20 thrashing of Corona Centennial on Friday night.


Mater Dei keeps producing top quarterbacks, with Young and JT Daniels currently in the college ranks and Matt Barkley finishing up his NFL days. Brown is surely on his way to joining them on the list of greats.

Football rewind

Long Beach Poly is back among the upper echelon of teams in Southern California. With consecutive wins over Gardena Serra and Mission Viejo, the Jackrabbits served notice they are a team to reckon with. Here’s the story of their triumph over Mission Viejo.

San Pedro is off to a 3-0 start in the City Section and has a challenging wildcat formation to deal with featuring running back Roman Sanchez. Here’s a report from their win over Venice.

Franklin (3-0) is showing signs of a productive passing attack behind Edward Cuevas, who was 20 of 23 passing for 269 yards and two touchdowns against La Canada.

Inglewood (3-0) could be headed to a 10-0 regular season after defeating one of the top teams in San Diego, Carlsbad. Leuzinger and Lawndale appear to be the only remaining opponents in the regular season to threaten the Sentinels. Freshman quarterback Husan Longstreet has passed for 1,015 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Edison came away with a huge nonleague win over Trinity League power Orange Lutheran. Here’s a report.

Here’s this week’s top 25 rankings by The Times.

Coach Ken Batdorf of Norte Vista won his 200th game last week. The only active coaches with more victories are Rollinson, Simi Valley’s Jim Benkert and Corona Centennial’s Matt Logan.


Quarterback Cavin Ross has 17 touchdown passes for Lompoc in three games.

Here’s the week 3 schedule.

Agoura paid tribute to Carter Stone, a freshman football player who died on Aug. 25.
(Dustin Croick)

Agoura honored freshman Carter Stone, who died on Aug. 25. Here’s a look.

Agoura received good news on quarterback Ty Dieffenbach, who injured his knee two weeks ago. It was a bone bruise and he should be back this season.

Extraordinary athlete

Cypress standout two-sport athlete Matthew Morrell is starring at wide receiver and baseball.
Cypress standout two-sport athlete Matthew Morrell is starring at wide receiver and baseball.
(Morrell family.)

Matthew Morrell, who is 6 feet 4 and 200 pounds, could have a future catching passes in football or using his 92-mph fastball in baseball, but there’s another sport that offers a clearer illustration of his exceptional hand-eye coordination.

“He’s a freak show of a ping pong player,” baseball coach John Weber said. “There’s no one who will beat Matthew.”

Last school year, Austin Overn of Santa Ana Foothill demonstrated the value of being a multi-sport athlete, starring as a receiver in football, a standout center fielder in baseball and running 10.49 seconds for 100 meters in track. Now he’s at USC.

Morrell, who is committed to Oregon State for baseball, has the same kind of physical and mental makeup that can help him achieve a similar result. He has helped lead Cypress to a 3-0 start in football. He has 16 receptions for 278 yards and three touchdowns.

Here’s the profile.

Locals in the NFL

Former Loyola High defensive back Myles Bryant of the Patriots.
(Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times)

It’s that time again to see which high schools in Southern California have the most players on NFL 53-man rosters.

For now, it’s Loyola and Long Beach Poly that win the honors with four players each. Anthony Barr (Cowboys), David Long Jr. (Rams), Coleman Shelton (Rams) and Myles Bryant (Patriots) are Cubs and Marcedes Lewis (Packers), Jack Jones (Patriots), JuJu Smith-Schuster (Chiefs) and Jayon Brown (Raiders) are Jackrabbits on rosters.

Oaks Christian, Santa Ana Mater Dei, Gardena Serra, Servite, Narbonne, Buena Park and JSerra all have three players on rosters.

Here’s the list of 67 players on NFL rosters from Southern California.

Girls’ volleyball

Mira Costa made a statement win in girls’ volleyball last week against Marymount. Here’s the story.

Redondo's Mele Corral-Blagojevich at a summer tournament in Oxnard.
(Luca Evans / Los Angeles Times)

Oklahoma commit Mele Corral-Blagojevich is plotting big things off the court. Here’s a profile.

Redondo Union took down Mater Dei in five games. Here’s the story.

Here’s the weekly prep girls’ volleyball notebook featuring a rising team in the City Section, GALA.

Cross country

Despite searing heat around Southern California, the cross-country season began to pick up steam with some early meets.

Highland’s Matthew Donis won the Sundown Showdown at the Cool Breeze Invitational in Pomona with a time of 14:36.8. Great Oak won the boys’ title. Rylee Blade from Corona Santiago won the girls’ race in 17:13.5. Great Oak won the girls’ title.

One of the top girls’ runners in the state, sophomore Sadie Engelhardt of Ventura, started her season with a win at the UC Santa Barbara Invitational with a time of 16:57.87.

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Water polo

Harvard-Westlake 6-foot-6 goalie Baxter Chelsom is one of the top returning players for the water polo team.
(Craig Weston)

The splashing in the pool at Studio City Harvard-Westlake High offers a tiny hint at what is taking place during water polo practices under its new coach, 28-year-old Jack Grover, who has so much talent to work with that he’ll be employing ice hockey-like line changes every three or four minutes.

“What’s special about this group is we play at such a high level but there’s not one person doing everything,” he said. “We don’t rely on one player, which is pretty unique at the high school level.”

When Brian Flacks left to become head coach at Stanford, Harvard-Westlake hired the top assistant at UCLA, Grover, who is a former Loyola High star. Since he was already recruiting many of the Harvard-Westlake players, he knew what he was inheriting.

“I had seen them play a number of times to the point during the interview process I was sitting up at night and thinking, ‘What if I get this position, how am I going to use this player?’ ” he said.

Now he’ll try to develop a young team that made it to the Southern Section Open Division semifinals last season before losing to Huntington Beach 11-9. The Wolverines are off to a 3-0 start and face defending Open Division champion Newport Harbor on the road on Saturday.

Here’s a look at early season water polo contenders.

Walk-ons rewarded

One of the best celebrations on college football teams occurs when a walk-on is awarded a scholarship.

UCLA coach Chip Kelly announced last week that four players from Southern California schools who showed up as walk-ons are now on scholarship.

They include kicker Nicholas Barr-Mira (Loyola), linebacker Carson Schwesinger (Oaks Christian), long snapper Jack Landherr (Chino Hills) and receiver Josiah Norwood (Santa Margarita). Norwood pulled off the biggest accomplishment, because he showed up as a quarterback before switching to receiver.


There’s early indications that Mater Dei will have two impact freshmen playing basketball this season.

There’s 6-foot-5 Che Brogan, who was earning rave reviews during the summer. He’s the son of former Monarch Tom Lewis, who has joined the program as an assistant coach.

There’s also 6-7 Brannon Martinsen, a lefty who should be effective inside.

Notes . . .

Former Mater Dei punter Ryan Stonehouse has won the punting job as an NFL rookie for the Titans. He was a star punter at Colorado State. . . .

San Fernando’s new boys’ basketball coach is Ted Painchaud. . . .

Sophomore baseball standout Billy Carlson of Corona has committed to Vanderbilt. . . .

Justin Siegel is the new softball coach at Sherman Oaks Notre Dame. He was an All-City pitcher at Taft High and has become a top youth softball coach. . . .

Godinez has named Mercedes Munoz its new softball coach. She was an assistant at Golden West College. . . .

Notre Dame baseball player Oliver Boone has committed to Cal. . . .

Chris Downs, a 6-foot-7 senior pitcher at Hart, has committed to Cal Poly. . . .

Sophomore pitcher Brady Hewitt of Sierra Canyon has committed to San Diego. . . .

Cypress shortstop Abbrie Covarrubias has committed to USC.

From the archives: Michael Wilson

Michael Wilson with the catch for Chaminade in 2017.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

In his fifth year playing receiver at Stanford, former Chaminade standout Michael Wilson is hoping to stay healthy and have his best season yet. He started his season this past weekend with five catches for 84 yards against Colgate.

Wilson was injured much of last season. He’s a tremendous athlete, as demonstrated during his Chaminade days when he was a star point guard in basketball and star receiver for the Eagles in football.

Here’s a story from 2017 on how Wilson learned that Stanford wanted him.


From the Washington Post, a story on high school quarterbacks studying playbooks.

From, a story on a Title IX complaint involving the softball program at Burroughs High.

From, a story on LeBron James’ plans for his sons, Sierra Canyon basketball players Bronny and Bryce James.

From the Los Angeles Times, a story on how college football helped a “parachute kid” understand America.

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Until next time...

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