California’s Top 50 high school football teams: Texas commit Maalik Murphy leads No. 32 Gardena Serra into 2021 season

SBLive is previewing the Top 50 high school football teams in California ahead of the fall 2021 season. Here’s an inside look at the Gardena Serra Cavaliers of the CIF Southern Section, the No. 32 team in our countdown.

MORE: PRESEASON ALL-STATE TEAM | TOP 50 COUNTDOWN

SERRA TEAM PAGE | 2021 FALL FOOTBALL SCHEDULE

GARDENA SERRA HEAD COACH

Scott Altenberg – 23rd season (190-71-1)

2021 SPRING AT A GLANCE

  • 4-2 overall
  • 4-1 in Mission League (T-1st)

IMPACT DEPARTURES

  • Lando Brown (LB) (6-0, 230) (Graduated)
  • Tyray Odell (LB) (6-2, 210) (Graduated)
  • Devin Ford (WR/DB) (5-11, 165) (Graduated)
  • Elijah Davis (RB) (5-8, 200) (Graduated)
  • AJ Nkele (OL) (6-8, 330) (Graduated)
  • Billy Claxton (OL/DE) (6-5, 246) (Graduated)
  • Brody McKinnon (WR) (6-1, 185) (Graduated)

2021 FALL SCHEDULE

  • Aug. 20 vs. Orange Lutheran – 7:00PM
  • Aug. 27 vs. Long Beach Poly – 7:00PM
  • Sept. 4 vs. American Fork (Utah) – 7:00PM
  • Sept. 10 @ Warren– 7:00PM
  • Sept. 17 vs. Carson – 7:00PM
  • Oct. 1 @ Alemany – 7:00PM
  • Oct. 8 vs. Chaminade – 7:00PM
  • Oct. 15 @ Cathedral – 7:00PM
  • Oct. 22 vs. Notre Dame – 7:00PM
  • Oct. 29 vs. Bishop Amat – 7:00PM

RETURNING STARTERS

  • 14 overall

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Maalik Murphy (Senior-QB) (6-4, 225) (Texas Commit)

Coach Altenberg: “It all starts with Maalik for us. He’s an elite talent and he’s getting better every day.”

2021 spring stats: Completed 90 passes of 163 passes for 1,261 yards, nine TDs and four INTs

Rodrick Pleasant (Junior-DB/WR) (5-11, 180)

Coach Altenberg: “Rodrick has elite speed. He also runs track. He’s a playmaker with the ball in his hands.”

Offer sheet: 19 Division 1 offers including UCLA, USC and Oregon

Troy Tw Crozier (Senior-WR/RB/ST) (5-10, 165)

Coach Altenberg: “He played well last year, but he’s become an amazing and versatile talent this year. He’s special.”

2021 spring stats: 24 carries for 156 yards

D’Angelo Davis (Junior-DE) (6-1, 240)

Coach Altenberg: “D’Angelo was a first team All-League kid for us last year. He’s a terror towards the QB. He gets after it. He’s got a great motor.”

2021 spring stats: 39 tackles and recovered a fumble.

Lamont Shamburger Jr. (Senior-S/WR) (6-0, 172)

Coach Altenberg: “Lamont is a really solid tackler and cover guy. He can play anywhere on the field. He’s smart as hell and we consider him the quarterback of our defense.”

2021 spring stats: 46 tackles, two for loss, one interception

Matt Coleman (Senior-WR) (6-0, 160)

Coach Altenberg “Matt is a great route runner. He’s also a starter on the basketball team.”

2021 spring stats: 20 catches for 229 yards

Darrian Anderson (Senior-WR) (5-10, 175)

Coach Altenberg“Darrian has worked very hard in the offseason and we expect big things from him.”

2021 spring stats: 31 catches for 431 yards and three TDs

Marion Miller (Senior-OL) (6’5, 350)

Coach Altenberg“Marion is a returning starter. We’re expecting a lot from him. He had a great year last year.”

Kai Honda (Junior-RB/K) (5-10, 180)

Coach Altenberg“Kai is very versatile. We can move him all around.”

2021 spring stats: Made 13 PATs and four field goals

Jeramie Jones (Senior-LB/S) (6-0, 180)

Coach Altenberg“Jeramie is also very versatile. He can play inside backer, outside backer and safety. He runs really well and is very physical. He was an All-League player last year. He’s tough to deal with for offenses.”

2021 spring stats: 44 tackles and four sacks

Dakoda Fields (Sophomore-DB) (6-3, 175)

Offer sheet: Utah State and San Jose State

2021 spring stats: 17 tackles and a forced fumble

WHAT’S THE QUARTERBACK SITUATION?

Senior Texas commit Maalik Murphy will be the starter for Serra.

IMPACT TRANSFERS IN

  • Cincere Rhaney — 2024 RB/LB (St. Bernard)
  • Jason Mitchell — 2024 QB/DB (St. Bernard)

BEST-CASE SCENARIO FOR SERRA

The best case scenario for Serra is that they win the Mission League and then somehow slip into the Division 2 playoffs in the Southern Section. In that scenario, Serra would win the league and then have a shot at a Section title because they’d avoid Mater Dei or St. John Bosco in the Division 1 playoffs.

MOST REALISTIC SCENARIO

Serra should be firmly in the hunt to win the Mission League. Alemany is the favorite and Chaminade, Notre Dame and Bishop Amat will all be solid too, but this year’s Serra team certainly has what it takes to win the league. All of the necessary pieces are there. What could derail a league title push or Section playoff run is poor play from the Cavalier offensive line. That group needs to protect Murphy and contribute to a solid rushing attack.

COACH SAID

“I have really high expectations. We had a lot of young guys play in the spring and we’re expecting to be that much better this year. We have a lot of explosive weapons on offense and we have a lot of returners on defense. We’re also versatile. That’s the makings of a really good team.

“In camp I want us to be more consistent. We have flashes where we look amazing and then sometimes we stumble a little bit. Our goal is to win every game and be better in December than we are in August.”

— Head Coach Scott Altenberg

MORE: PRESEASON ALL-STATE TEAM | TOP 50 COUNTDOWN

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