Prep Rally: Bear Bachmeier is a quarterback to keep an eye on this season

Murrieta Valley junior quarterback Bear Bachmeier poses for a photo on his family's three-acre plot of land.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Prep Rally. My name is Eric Sondheimer. The Times begins its nine-part series previewing the top high school football players in Southern California. Enjoy.

Bear comes out of hibernation

It’s early June, and the gloomy, overcast sky that has engulfed the Los Angeles basin morning after morning has disappeared, replaced by surprising sunshine while traveling south on I-15 past a stretch of rolling hills toward Murrieta, where a Bear is coming out of hibernation right on time for the start of high school football practice.

Bear Bachmeier, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound junior quarterback at Murrieta Valley, is the third brother to distinguish himself in a community that fills its stadium like a Friday night in Texas.


First there was Hank, who played quarterback and went on to Boise State and now Louisiana Tech. Then there was Tiger, a genius of a student and prolific receiver now at Stanford. Left behind is Bear, another terrific student and top athlete ready to prove the third Bachmeier boy will be as good as, if not better than, the other two.

“Everything is unusual about those guys,” Murrieta Valley coach George Wilson said. “Nothing is standard.”

It starts with the boys having lived in a forest. Their home in the gated community of Rancho Capistrano is on top of a mountain off Ortega Highway near Lake Elsinore and that is surrounded by the Cleveland National Forest. Phone reception goes away climbing the hills during the half-hour drive toward their three-acre property.

“We went caveman,” Bear said. “We’re in the middle of nowhere.”

A profile on a quarterback to watch in 2023. And a look at top quarterbacks.

Watch Dane run

Junior running back Dane Dunn of Sierra Canyon.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

It’s a picture-perfect Thursday morning in Chatsworth. Running back Dane Dunn of Sierra Canyon High shows up for the a workout in shorts. The first thing you notice are his legs. They are as thick as a the trunk from of a sequoia tree.

“I have to thank my mom for these legs,” he says.

At 5 feet 9, and 185 pounds, Dunn has a burst of speed that he calls upon whenever he needs to break away. It’s like pushing the button on a rocket and watching the thrust take over.

As a sophomore, he rushed for 1,925 yards and 24 touchdowns while earning Mission League MVP honors.

“I think he was the best player in the area last year,” coach Jon Ellinghouse said.

A profile on the running back to watch in 2023. And a look at the top running backs.


The series continues Tuesday with a profile of receiver Kory Hall of Reseda Cleveland, followed by tight end Ryner Swanson of Laguna Beach on Wednesday; the Helton twins from Corona Centennial, Brent and Wade, offensive linemen, on Thursday; defensive lineman Chinedu Onyeagoro of King/Drew on Friday; linebacker Noah Mikhail of Bonita on Saturday; defensive back Peyton Woodyard of St. John Bosco on Sunday; kicker Ryon Sayeri of Chaminade on Monday.

Fathers coaching sons

Junior linebacker Cory McEnroe (left) will be playing for his father, Thousand Oaks head coach Ben McEnroe.
(Eric Sondeimer / Los Angeles Times)

Get ready for some intense father-son exchanges in Coastal Canyon League football games, as Thousand Oaks, Newbury Park and Moorpark have coaches with sons on their teams.

New Thousand Oaks coach Ben McEnroe has his son, Cory, a junior linebacker. Newbury Park coach Joe Smigiel is coaching his sophomore twins, quarterback Brady and receiver Beau. And Moorpark coach Ryan Huisenga is coaching his junior twins, running back Quinn and junior safety Tyler.

A look at the dynamics in play.

Off to Hawaii

The high school football season begins this week for three Southern California teams headed to Hawaii: Long Beach Poly, Villa Park and Edison.

Edison is spending nine days in Maui and will play two games before coming home.


Poly is playing at Konawaena on Friday night. Villa Park is playing Honolulu Damien on Friday. Edison is playing Baldwin on Saturday night.

There also will be numerous scrimmages this week in the City Section and Southern Section in preparation for next week’s season openers.

A Crenshaw story

Daiyan Henley.
Chargers linebacker Daiyan Henley, a Crenshaw grad.

(Kyusung Gong/Kyusung Gong)

What follows is a football story and a father-son story and a comeback story. Yeah, a comeback story, one for all time.

Most of all, though, this an L.A. story, a hometown tale that starts in a torrent of gang violence on the blocks of Crenshaw and ends in a cozy huddle of Chargers on the turf of SoFi Stadium.

That covers a distance of barely five miles. But this is L.A., where even the shortest commutes can unravel into an agonizing misadventure of dead ends, regrettable decisions and maddening detours.


Daiyan Henley, a Chargers third-round draft pick in April, was conceived in prison, the son of a first-generation Crip who served 13 years after being convicted of trying to rob an undercover sheriff’s deputy of 33 pounds of cocaine.

The story.

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Girls’ golf

The U.S. Women’s Amateur golf championship will be held this week at Bel-Air Country Club, and a group of high school athletes will be among the participants.

They include Ellie Koo of Harvard-Westlake, Nikki Oh of California Connections Academy, Bridget Chantharath of Covina Northwood, Jude Lee of Orange Lutheran, Elise Lee of Crean Lutheran, Emily Song of Santa Margarita, Leigh Chien of Santa Margarita and Zixin Ni from China who is attending Orion International Academy in Ontario.

Notes . . .

Infielder JD Dunn, a Damien grad, has committed to Loyola Marymount. He is the son of St. John Bosco basketball coach Matt Dunn. . . .

Former Newport Harbor, Monrovia and Glendale College football coach Mike Giddings has died. He was 89. Here’s a 1985 story on Giddings. . . .

Brandon Manumaleuna is no longer head football coach at Leuzinger. He will be the offensive coordinator. The new coach is Alvin Steen. . . .

City Section teams are unlikely to play games on Tuesdays because it has become a professional development day for teachers. Sports competitions won’t be allowed until after 5 p.m. with limited buses available. . . .

Santa Margarita junior pitcher Hayden George has committed to UCLA. He’ll be the latest Eagle pitcher to end up at UCLA, joining Griffin Canning and Ethan Flanagan on the Santa Margarita to Westwood path. . . .

Salesian receiver/cornerback Jakiel Kendricks has committed to Army. . . .


Former Chaminade outfielder Blake Rutherford made his major league debut with the Washington Nationals last week. He was drafted in the first round by the Yankees in 2016. . . .

John Ashley is the new softball coach at Simi Valley. He had been head coach at Rio Mesa. . . .

Caleb De Fabiis is the new boys’ basketball coach at Colony. He replaces his father, Jerry, who resigned to become an assistant commissioner with the Southern Section. . . .

Calabasas junior infielder Matthew Witkow has committed to Harvard. . . .

Junior infielder Hayden Woodson of Servite has committed to USC. . . .

Cousins Jett White and Kobe Boykin have left Los Alamitos football and moved to Miami. They were stars last season at Orange before transferring to Los Alamitos. . . .

Mike James is the new girls’ basketball coach at Walnut. . . .

South Hills pitcher/first baseman Matt Moreno has committed to Loyola Marymount. . . .

Defensive back Chance Harrison of Rio Mesa has committed to Arizona. . . .

Kris Karsten is the new cross-country coach at Newbury Park. . . .

Heather Quella is the new girls’ volleyball coach at San Pedro. . . .

Former Harvard-Westlake basketball player Liam Campbell, the son of former CSUN volleyball coach Jeff Campbell, has committed to USC. He moved to Idaho after his freshman year and will be a senior this coming season. . . .

Running back Nathaniel Frazier of Mater Dei has committed to Georgia. . . .

Pitcher Grady Faris of Dana Hills has committed to Cal State Fullerton.

From the archives: Bill Redell

Former Oaks Christian football coach Bill Redell will be one of the 100 honorees being inducted into the new California High School Football Hall of Fame at the Rose Bowl later this month.

Redell, 82, is a member of more than 10 Halls of Fame, including the College Football Hall of Fame. He guided Crespi to the Southern Section Division 1 championship in 1986. He built Oaks Christian’s program from scratch and the field was named in his honor in 2015. He retired from Oaks Christian in 2012, only to return in 2014 at the age of 73. He stepped down a year later.


Here’s a 2010 profile of Redell, whose humor is one of a kind.


From, a story on hazing prevention being top agenda item as new school year begins.

From, a story on the participation census and a rise in football participants.

From the Los Angeles Times, a story on three former high school football standouts trying to succeed at USC.

From the San Diego Union Tribune, a look at the top high school football players in San Diego.

From the Washington Post, a story on kids specializing in a single sport and how to deal with injuries.


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Until next time...

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