Prep Rally: It’s officially high school football season

Javen Hall,17, quarterback for Birmingham Community Charter School.
Javen Hall, playing quarterback for Birmingham on the final day of summer workouts during a competition at Garfield.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Prep Rally. My name is Eric Sondheimer. High school football practice officially begins this week for City Section teams. Southern Section teams start July 31. Let’s examine what to look forward to in the City Section.

It’s officially football season

EAST LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 22: Nathan Santa Cruz, (2) receiver, Venice High School at Summer passing competition.
Nathan Santa Cruz of Venice is back playing football after a serious head injury last season.
(Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times)

After several years of dwindling football participation numbers, the big question is: Will there be a return to stability?


City Section teams begin conditioning workouts Monday. There’s early signs of a pickup in numbers. It’s badly needed to help fill out lower-level teams that are critical for teaching young players the fundamentals and serving as preparation for the varsity.

The problems for smaller schools of finding enough players isn’t going away. Crenshaw, which has dropped in student body enrollment to below 500, starts out with 21 players, coach Robert Garrett said. That’s better than the last two years. Garrett, in his 36th season, always finds a way to make it work.

Crenshaw plays in the Coliseum League, where the rising team in terms of numbers and ability is King/Drew, in only its second season of football. King/Drew was 9-3 last season and could make a run for the league title this season. Last year King/Drew had more than 100 players wanting to play football but only 70 could because of equipment limitations, coach Joe Torres said. This year more than 140 players have signed up and King/Drew will probably keep at least 90.

Dorsey, which is getting a new on-campus field soon, is probably the preseason favorite in the league.

The Marine League continues to produce a level of enthusiasm and commitment from its fans and communities. San Pedro, Narbonne, Banning, Carson and Gardena have strong support. Carson’s new field should be completed. The Northern League, with Franklin, Eagle Rock and Lincoln leading the way, continues to make progress.

The West Valley League, with the improvement of Granada Hills to give Birmingham competition, remains strong. Taft is unveiling its new field and new coach, Fred Emmerson. The Valley Mission League has seen the rise of Granada Hills Kennedy under coach Troy Cassidy. The Eastern League still boasts the best rivalry, Garfield vs. Roosevelt, which is returning to East Los Angeles College on Oct. 27. The Western League has Venice and Palisades to duel for the league title with Fairfax showing signs of joining the big two.


The final summer passing tournaments were held Saturday. Garfield coach Lorenzo Hernandez welcomed top teams Birmingham, Franklin and Venice. Here’s a report.

The good news to start is that there should be no helmet shortages that were present last season. A couple more schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District are supposed to be able to hire athletic trainers, including Fairfax. The City Section is adding a more powerful seeding committee to its playoff format, allowing them to make possible changes while using as the primary guidance.

The regular season begins Aug. 18. Garfield is at Cathedral in a good battle for Los Angeles bragging rights. Garfield is also playing at King/Drew on Aug. 31, which should help provide an early peek at possible Open Division playoff teams.

El Toro won the Huntington Beach tournament and L.A. Cathedral won the Corona Santiago tournament.


Edison, Long Beach Poly and Villa Park will be the first Southern Section teams to play games. They are playing games in Hawaii. The Chargers are traveling to Hawaii to play two games on Aug. 12 and Aug. 18. Here’s a report.

Summer preview: Linebackers

Junior linebacker Noah Mikhail of Bonita is considered among the best in the nation.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

When it comes to positions filled with quality players, linebacker should be one of the strongest this fall in Southland high school football.

Continuing a look at players to watch this summer, all you need to do is attend a St. John Bosco workout to see top linebackers.

First there’s Kyngstonn Viliamu-Asa, a 6-foot-3, 226-pound senior with agility, strength and great instincts. Then there’s senior Khmori House, who roams the field looking to hit players carrying the ball. There’s also Jordan Lockhart. All three are headed to big-time college programs.

Here’s a look at other top linebackers, led by Bonita’s Noah Mikhail.

Learning about leadership

Sitting among dozens of football players in the Rams locker room at SoFi Stadium, the quarterback explained why he had ripped an index card with the word “Black” on it.

It was part of an icebreaker focused on appreciating personal identities, and Daron Cotton, 17, a senior at Lincoln High in East Los Angeles, insisted that the world should see past his skin color and get to know his character and values.


“I want to be known as the person I am — and not the person I look like,” Cotton said.

The sentiment drew the loudest applause of the hour-long activity from his teammates as well as players from Dorsey High.

The Rams and a national nonprofit, Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE), brought the two inner-city teams together for a weeks-long leadership and community-building program.

Here’s the report.

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At the AAU national beach volleyball championships at Hermosa Beach, Chaminade’s Shayla Martinez, only a sophomore, won the 16U gold girls’ division national championship with Santa Barbara Bishop Diego’s Eliana Urzua.

The Mira Costa duo of Audrey Flanagan and Olga Nikolaeva won the 15U gold national championship.

Notes . . .

St. Francis basketball player Brandin Dantzler has committed to William Penn University, an NAIA school. . . .

Former JSerra basketball player Rob Diaz has committed to Humboldt State. . . .

Former El Toro pitcher Paul Skenes, the No. 1 pick in the MLB draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates, received a record signing bonus of $9.2 million. He attended the Air Force Academy for two years, so paying back the government for its expenses won’t be a problem. He gets the best of both worlds. . . .

Edison outfielder Brandon Winokur, a UCLA commit, reached agreement to receive $1.5 million to sign with the Minnesota Twins as a third-round draft pick. . . .

South Hills pitcher Sterling Patick, an 18th-round pick of the Dodgers, signed for a bonus of $347,500.

Mater Dei guard Emily Shaw has committed to Central Washington, a Division II school. . . .

Corona Centennial’s defending Southern Section Open Division championship basketball team will play De La Salle in a 9 p.m. featured game of the Nor Cal Tip Off Classic on Nov. 25 at Dublin High. . . .

Birmingham has given approval to spend $1.8 million to replace its all-weather track that was built just before the 1984 Olympic Games as a practice site. It has been refurbished multiple times but began to show bubbles during heat. . . .

The LAUSD says El Camino Real’s all-weather football field, unavailable for use since the summer of 2022 because of defective melting materials, is supposed to be worked on beginning next month and completed by September. El Camino Real hasn’t played a football game on its home field since 2021. . . .


Tayten Beyer, a senior defensive back at Corona Centennial, has committed to San Diego State. . . .

Dave Currey, a member of the St. Bonaventure High Hall of Fame, has died. He was 80. He was the long-time athletic director at Chapman. . . .

Jackie Altschuld is the new girls’ soccer coach at Viewpoint. She was a standout player at El Camino Real, the University of San Diego and played professionally in Europe. . . .

Former Chatsworth High and USC quarterback Matt Cassel has been named an analyst for NBC’s new Saturday night college football studio show on Big Ten and Notre Dame. . . .

TJ Salinas is the new baseball coach at Great Oak. . . .

Pitcher Justin Tims of Villa Park has committed to Washington. . . .

Former Narbonne basketball standout Marcus Adams Jr. has committed to Gonzaga after previously being committed to Kansas. . . .

Linebacker Kyngstonn Viliamu-Asa of St. John Bosco announced on Sunday that he has committed to Notre Dame.

From the archieves: Brycen Tremayne

Stanford wide receiver Brycen Tremayne.
(Luis Sinco)

Former Venice receiver Brycen Tremayne was signed by the Washington Commanders in April as an undrafted free agent after enduring highs and lows at Stanford, where he became a standout after being a walk-on and overcame a serious injury to contribute.

Here’s a 2020 story on Tremayne and how he earned a scholarship.


Here’s a 2022 story on overcoming his injury.


From the Los Angeles Times, a story on 18-year-old Alyssa Thompson‘s rise to prominence in women’s soccer.

From the San Diego Union-Tribune, a story on summer football activities.

From, a story on Florida counting on former Birmingham tight end Arlis Boardingham to contribute this season.

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Until next time...

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