SBLive California is previewing the Top 50 high school football teams in the state ahead of the 2020-2021 season, which is scheduled to kick off the first week of January. Here’s an inside look at the JSerra Lions of the CIF Southern Section, the No. 44 team in our countdown.
JSERRA HEAD COACH
Pat Harlow, 4th season (22-12)
2019 AT A GLANCE
- 6-5 record
- 2-3 in Trinity League (fourth place)
- Lost to Corona Centennial 56-0 in the first round of the Division 1 Southern Section playoffs
ALL-SOUTHERN SECTION DEPARTURES
- Siale Suliafu – DL (transfer)
- Chris Street – RB (graduation)
- Dec 26, 2020 vs. Norco – 7:00PM – Scrimmage
- Jan 8, 2021 @ Paraclete – 7:00PM – Non League
- Jan 15, 2021 @ Venice – 7:00PM – Non League
- Jan 22, 2021 vs. Corona Centennial – 7:00PM – Non League
- Jan 29, 2021 vs. Cajon 7:00PM – Non League
- Feb 5, 2021 @ Serra Garden – 7:00PM – Non League
- Feb 12, 2021 vs. Mater Dei – 7:00PM – League
- Feb 19, 2021 @ Santa Margarita – 7:00PM – League
- Feb 26, 2021 @ St. John Bosco – 7:00PM – League
- Mar 5, 2021 vs. Servite Servite – 7:00PM – League
- Mar 12, 2021 vs. Orange Lutheran – 7:00PM – League
- 3 on offense
- 2 on defense
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Mason Murphy (Senior-LT) (USC commit) (6-6, 290)
Coach Harlow: “Mason’s a great kid. He has a great motor and he’s very athletic. I’m really proud of his development over the last year and a half. He’s improved by leaps and bounds as a player, but his leadership ability and his accountability to himself and his team is just phenomenal. He’s going to have a dominant year.”
Jaden Genova (Senior-LB) (6-0, 195)
Coach Harlow: “Jaden is a three year starter for us. He’s a very athletic kid who plays with his hair on fire. He’ll play rover, which is a hybrid safety and linebacker position. We’re really excited about him. He’s a great special teams player as well.”
2019 stats: Made 84 tackles and forced three fumbles
Offer sheet: Oregon
Max Carvalho (Senior-RB/WR/S) (5-10, 175)
Coach Harlow: “Max may never leave the field for us. Soccer is his number one sport, but he’s built like a brick you-know-what house. Max has a motor for days. He’s one of the fastest players on our team and because of his soccer background he can run all day and not get tired. We’re really excited about him. He’s explosive and as competitive as they come. I love the kid.”
2019 stats: Made 14 tackles. Caught four passes. Returned kicks and punt.
Ray Valencia (Sophomore-WR/S) (6-0, 175)
Coach Harlow: “We’re really excited about Ray. He’s a very athletic kid. He’s a tough kid and smart kid who will play some safety for us as well.”
2019 stats: 7 catches for 59 yards
Offer sheet: Oregon and Notre Dame
Hunter Nowell (Sophomore-DB/WR) (6-0, 180)
Coach Harlow: “Hunter works his tail off every single day.”
Rashad Beckham (Junior-OG) (5-11, 260)
Coach Harlow: “Rashad started two games for us last year. He’s a really athletic kid, a really smart kid. He has a good motor and a really high football IQ. He’s a kid we’re expecting a lot out of.”
Carson LeSage (Senior-FB/LB) (5-10, 210)
Coach Harlow: “Carson started two games for us last year and will play a much bigger role in 2020.”
Sophomore Jaxon Potter is in a battle with junior Shaun McCaghren to win the starting quarterback job. Harlow says both have a good grasp on the offense. Freshman Dylan Mills is also in the conversation.
No matter what happens, Harlow hopes to have one of his QBs win the job and he’ll stick with them.
“I’m not a big platoon guy at the quarterback position,” Harlow said. “I think you have to have a feel for the game and repetitions with your receivers. Maybe we’ll have a package here or there with other guys though.”
Nima Samini – 2021 WR/DB transfer from prep school
Jordan Washington – 2021 WR/CB/KR transfer from IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.)
David Yorkman – 2021 OT transfer from Riverside King
Cristian Pilimai – 2022 OL/DL transfer from Tustin
WHICH IMPACT PLAYERS TRANSFERRED OUT?
- Siale Suliafu – 2021 DL (St. Bernard)
- Earnest McDaniel – 2021 WR (St. Bernard)
- General Booty – 2021 QB (Allen in Texas)
- New Zealand Williams – 2021 (St. Bernard)
- Brody Crane – 2021 OL (Santa Margarita)
- Champion Johnson – 2021 TE/LB (Mater Dei)
- Sammy Green – 2021 RB (Huntington Beach)
- Zamajay Duncan – 2021 CB (Lincoln in San Diego)
- Ross Maseuli – 2021 OL (Mater Dei)
- Keyan Burnett – 2022 TE/WR (Servite)
- Malaki Te’o – 2022 LB (Mater Dei)
IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON JSERRA FOOTBALL
COVID-19 has affected every high school football team differently. Coach Harlow had the virus in the summer. Here he shares how COVID-19 has impacted JSerra football over the past few months:
“It’s been a real shame to not be able to give these kids the reps that they’d usually get. We lost all of the offseason.
“We’ve been back on campus for ten weeks, but it’s not as good as it sounds. We had to move the weight room outside two weeks ago so we could actually lift. We didn’t get to use a ball until two weeks ago. Everything takes double the time it would usually take because we have to disinfect everything. It’s been really tough.
“Hopefully everyone else is following the rules. We’re in the same boat as everyone else and that’s what I tell the guys. One positive of this is that this has forced our guys to understand how much they really love the game since it was taken from them.”
BEST-CASE SCENARIO FOR JSERRA
Beating Mater Dei, St. John Bosco or Servite this season in the Trinity League probably won’t happen for the Lions this year, so the Orange Lutheran and Santa Margarita games will be very important. If JSerra can win those, they could make the playoffs and depending on which division they end up in, could make a run.
MOST REALISTIC SCENARIO
Every Division 1/2 team from last year won’t automatically make the postseason this year (like they did in 2019) so getting wins whenever possible will be huge for the Lions. If the season is shortened — and teams only play a league schedule — that could be trouble for JSerra’s postseason hopes.
If they play the whole season, this team could very well make the playoffs. What will be most important is showing clear improvement week after week with the young roster. Playing Orange Lutheran in the final game of the regular season could be a “win and you’re in” game.
“I think we’re going to be better than people are giving us credit for. We’re young, but we’re still pretty talented. How that youth grows up will be interesting to see. I jumped their asses the other day. I told them that virtually none of you have done anything on a Friday night here. If you think that what you do on Thursday transfers to Friday, then you’re out of your mind. I gave them a reality check.
“I’m curious to see how are we going to gel as a team and do some of these younger guys look to our more experienced guys to see how they prepare? Will they take that to heart? I expect us to come out and compete pretty well. I’m excited to have Rob Johnson on the staff. That will add some different dimensions to what we’ve done in the past. I think our defensive coordinator Mike Walcott has done a phenomenal job of working with what we have, matching our philosophy to our personnel.”
“No matter how many games we play, my expectation is for us to go out and compete. We expect to get better every week.”
— Pat Harlow