Previewing the Top 50 high school football teams in California: No. 33 Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks)

SBLive California is previewing the Top 50 high school football teams in the state ahead of the 2020-2021 season. Even with the season on hold, we will continue to highlight the best teams, players and coaches in California. Here’s an inside look at the Notre Dame Knights of the CIF Southern Section, the No. 33 team in our countdown.

NOTRE DAME TEAM PAGE | 2021 FOOTBALL SCHEDULE

NOTRE DAME HEAD COACH

Joe McNab, 1st season (was defensive coordinator for previous 39 years)

2019 AT A GLANCE

  • 6-5 record
  • 2-3 in Mission League (4th)
  • Lost to Vista Murrieta 24-21 in the first round of the Division 2 Southern Section playoffs

ALL-SOUTHERN SECTION DEPARTURES

  • Justin Horton – WR
  • Quintin Lyons – OL

2021 SCHEDULE

  • Jan 8, 2021 vs. West Ranch – 7:00PM – Non League
  • Jan 15, 2021 vs. Valencia – 7:00PM – Non League
  • Jan. 22, @ St. Bonaventure – 7:00PM – Non League
  • Jan. 29, 2021 @ Birmingham – 7:00PM – Non League
  • Feb. 5, 2021 @ Servite – 7:00PM – Non League
  • Feb 12, 2021 @ Alemany – 7:00PM – League
  • Feb 19, 2021 vs. Chaminade – 7:00PM – League
  • Feb 26, 2021 vs. Serra – 7:00PM – League
  • Mar 5, 2021 @ Cathedral – 7:00PM – League
  • Mar 12, 2021 vs. Bishop Amat – 7:00PM – League

RETURNING STARTERS

  • 6 on offense
  • 5 on defense

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Cooper Meek (Senior-QB) (6-3, 180)

Coach McNab: “Cooper is a team leader and one of our best players. He’s a really good kid. He’s super smart.”

2018 stats (missed nearly all of 2019 with an injury): Completed 105 of 164 passes for 1,570 yards and 14 touchdowns. Threw two INT’s. Carried the ball 95 times for 620 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Sulayman Adeoye (Senior-TE/DE/LB) (Penn comit) (6-4, 210)

Coach McNab: “Sulayman is one of our best players. He’s also a really good kid, really smart.”

2019 stats: 11 tackles and a blocked field goal

John Gayer (Senior-DE/TE) (6-4, 220)

Coach McNab: “John is big, fast, strong and smart. John didn’t play last year because he hurt his knee. He’s one of our best players. It hurt when he didn’t play.”

Mason Cotton (Senior-WR) (6-0, 170)

Coach McNab: “Mason is our leading receiver coming back. He’s really good.”

2019 stats: Caught 30 passes for 492 yards and three touchdowns

Kyle Wynn (Senior-WR/DB) (5-11, 160)

Coach McNab: “Kyle is our fastest kid. He’s a good kid.”

2019 stats: Made eight tackles

Dominic Naney (Senior-OL/DL) (6-7, 300)

Coach McNab: “Dom is doing a great job this offseason. He’s really matured since last year.”

2019 stats: Made one tackle

Griffin Cleveland (Senior-WR/DB) (5-10, 175)

Coach McNab: “He’ll help us this year.”

2019 stats: Made two catches for 19 yards

Nathaniel James (Junior-DB) (5-9, 150)

Coach McNab: “Nathaniel is a really good player.”

Brennan Dragomer (Sophomore-RB)

Coach McNab: “Brennan is a really good player. He’ll help us at running back this year.”

IMPACT TRANSFERS

  • Peter Flynn — 2022 OL/DL (Burroughs)
  • Javance Johnson – 2023 QB (Alemany) (Holds an offer from Arizona State)
  • Micah McGavin — 2023 RB/DB (Alemany)
  • Josh Gomez — 2023 OL/DL (Cathedral)

WHO TRANSFERRED OUT?

  • Anthony Spearman – 2021 RB (Sierra Canyon)
  • Elias Larry — 2021 DB (Sierra Canyon)
  • Jacob Moore — 2021 LB/TE (Alemany)
  • Ezekiel Larry — 2022 DE/LB (Sierra Canyon)
  • Zachary Siskowic — 2022 QB (Crespi)

IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL

COVID-19 has affected every high school football team differently. Coach McNab shares how COVID-19 has impacted Notre Dame football over the past few months:

“The kids are excited to be here and getting out of the house for practice now. We were getting tired of Zooming, I’ll say that much. We still do things in pods and we try to do as much football stuff as possible in pods, but it’s hard to run plays and things like that. I’m getting a little antsy that we haven’t been able to run plays as a group.

“We do as much as we can while keeping people healthy and safe. We lift outside, we condition, we do drills, kickers kick, we run routes. We don’t do eleven against eleven to avoid contact, so obviously that’s a little odd.

“The school has done everything they can health wise. We have those sprayers to spray things down like they have in airplanes. We have apps and temperature checks to help kids check in and not waste a lot of time. The school has invested money in getting kids here and making it as much like high school as possible, which for football has been hard.”

BEST-CASE SCENARIO FOR NOTRE DAME

If everyone stays healthy and Notre Dame receives a favorable playoff draw, the Knights could win a Section title.

MOST REALISTIC SCENARIO

Coach McNab is very excited about his offensive and defensive lines as well as bringing back quarterback Cooper Meek. That is a recipe for success. While Notre Dame probably won’t win the Mission League, they’ll be competitive and should make the playoffs. McNab and Meek are as experienced a coach/quarterback duo as you’ll find at the high school level. The team’s intelligence and skill will make them a tough out in the postseason.

COACH SAID

“We have a good group of kids. They’re loyal kids and smart kids and they work really hard. I think we’re very talented. We’re big. We’ve got some good running backs and a couple of good cornerbacks. We’re talented, but our whole league is talented so every week will be a battle but I think we’re as good as everybody else. Hopefully we get to play so we can see if I’m right.

“We have experience on both lines, which is a great place to start. I’m really excited about that. Hopefully we can run the ball and stop the run. We want to compete for a league championship, make the playoffs and then see what happens.”

— Joe McNab

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