LA City Section 2021 high school football preview: Top 10 teams, players to watch, top new coaches, top games

High school football is back! The LA City Section high school football season kicks off on Thursday when San Pedro takes on Long Beach St. Anthony. Ahead of games beginning, we’re previewing the top teams, players to watch, new coaches and much more. Check it all out below.

ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM

There will be canceled games due to COVID-19 this fall. Venice is already in contact tracing protocols and has canceled its Week 0 game against Huntington Beach Edison. City Section schools are required to test athletes and coaches once a week for COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status. The unfortunate reality is that more games will get canceled this fall.

REIGNING CHAMPIONS AND A NEW PLAYOFF FORMAT

In past years, teams in the City Section knew their playoff division before the season started. This year, teams won’t find out what division they’re in until the end of the season. Based on the CalPreps ranking formula, the top eight teams following the regular season will be placed in the Open Division. The next 16 will be in Division 1, with the next 16 placed in Division 2 and the 16 after that in Division 3. The playoff seeding committee does reserve the right to move teams based upon league finish and head-to-head results though.

Due to COVID-19, there were no football championships held anywhere in the state in 2020. Therefore the reigning champions are from 2019.

  • 2019 Open Division champion: Birmingham
  • 2019 Division 1 champion: Reseda
  • 2019 Division 2 champion: Canoga Park
  • 2019 Division 3 champion: Gardena

TOP 10 TEAMS

We released our preseason LA City Section Top 10 on Monday. San Pedro enters the year at No. 1. Crenshaw, Carson, Franklin, Kennedy, Cleveland and Roosevelt will be other teams to watch.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

We released our preseason All-LA City Section team on Monday. San Pedro had a Section high five players selected. The three unanimous top players in the Section to begin the year are Birmingham senior receiver and defensive end Arlis Boardingham, Granada Hills junior running back Dijon Stanley and Banning senior running back Jakob Galloway.

Best of the rest

Arleta: Senior LB/RB Kelvin Duran

Banning: Senior DT Luke Ah, Senior LB/FB Alex Muratalla, Senior OL/DL Jonathan Dominguez

Bell: Senior WR/DB Ismael Espinoza, Sophomore OL/DL Anthony Martinez, Senior QB Diego Garcia, Senior OL/DL Kevin Mena, Senior WR Nathan Alonzo

Canoga Park: Senior LB Anthony Villalobos, Junior OL Jose Ramos, Senior WR/DB Marques Reece, Junior DL Brandon Schinider

Chavez: Senior RB/LB Alejandro Rafael, Senior OL/DL Alexander Ramirez, Senior OL/DL Matthew Cota, Senior LB/FB Gabriel Velasquez

Cleveland: Senior TE/OL Christopher Alcantar, Senior QB/TE/DE Stefan Roberts

Chatsworth: Senior DB/LB/RB Tommy An, Senior OL/DL/TE Moin Singh, Senior RB/WR/DB Kanan Kadjar

Eagle Rock: Senior LB Brooklyn Pasten

Fairfax: Senior WR/ST Darren Tenner, Senior DB Jeffrey Nievez-Mays, Junior DB Malik Keeles

El Camino Real: Senior WR/DE Kameron Dover, Senior WR/RB/QB/SS/LB Troy Spellman, Junior DL/RB Robin Bueno, Junior WR/DB Luke Peffer, Senior WR/LB Jabari Barclay, Senior QB Ryan Feinberg

Franklin: Senior QB Isaiah Diaz, Junior RB Diego Munoz, Junior WR/S Hector Ceballos

Garfield: Senior WR Jacob Ramos, Senior OL/DL Raj Vitela, Senior QB Jaison Vargas

Grant: Junior ATH Kazric Anderson

Hamilton: Senior DL Maragen Fowler, Senior WR/DB Nelson Sawyer, Junior QB Dylan Moreno, Junior LB Legen Harper,

Hawkins: Senior WR/DB Myles Nash, Junior QB/S Chad Sabal

Lincoln: Senior QB/S Ivan Plancarte, Senior RB Andre Watkins, Senior DB Jose Cova, Junior WR/DB Jaden Rattay, Senior OL/DL Nicholas Santiago

Manual Arts: Junior OL/DL Andres Pinon, Junior LB Angel Merlos, Senior RB Edwin Lopez

Marquez: Senior RB Oscar Ochoa, Senior DL Jesse Adams, Sophomore DB/WR Lamont White

Marshall: Senior OL/DL Angel Salguero

Mendez: Senior OL Michael Martinez, Junior RB Mikah Kindell

Narbonne: Senior RB/S Christian Walker, Senior DL/OL Keanu McCaig, Junior OL/DL Mikeal Gasper

Palisades: Senior OL Nicholas Raddon, Senior DE Trinity Camden, Senior RB Daniel Anoh, Senior S Johnny Babala

Poly: Senior OL Jose Simon

Reseda: Senior WR/DB Kameran Charles

Roosevelt: Senior FB/LB Alexander Arroyo

San Pedro: Senior WR/LB Elijah Thorp, Senior QB Aidan Jackson, Junior RB/LB Roman Sanchez, Senior RB Christian Phillips, Junior OL Jeremiah Gasca, Senior OL Gabriel Anguiano, Junior OL/DL Jerry Witty, Senior LB Kain Paris, Senior LB Andrew Mejia

South East: Senior LB/RB Carlos Reyes, Senior QB/WR/DB Malachi Betters, Senior OL Christian Garcia

Verdugo Hills: Senior LB/TE Luke Waters, Senior QB Dane Iverson, Senior WR Ben Emory

View Park: Senior WR/DB Andre Johnson Jr., Senior DB Brian Mouton, Junior WR/DB Earius Jackson

Westchester: Senior RB/CB Ilyas Abdullah, Senior LB Jacob Henry, Senior OL/DL Donovan Gafford, Junior OL/DL Andrew Polk, Senior LB/TE Kelyon Thomas, Senior OL/DL Damerius Clemmings

Wilson: Senior LB Daniel Lebron, Senior DE Jaime Juarez, Senior LB Brandon Jara

NEW COACHES TO WATCH

After coaching at Carson from 2006-2010, Mike Christensen is back in charge of the Colts. He was named the Daily Breeze Coach of the Year in 2007.

Dorsey graduate Stafon Johnson will coach the Dons this season. He played running back for USC and before spending time with the Tennessee Titans and Washington Redskins in the NFL.

Palisades also has a new coach after Tim Hyde elected to take a job in New Hampshire. Former offensive coordinator Rocky Montz and current defensive coordinator Chris Hyduke will lead the Dolphins this fall as co-head coaches.

It is unclear at this time if new coaches have been hired at Locke and San Fernando following resignations from Mike Klyce and Robert Garcia. Klyce is now the offensive coordinator at Notre Dame Sherman Oaks. He stepped away in October of 2020.

TOP 10 REGULAR SEASON GAMES

Sept. 2: San Pedro @ Venice

Sept. 2: Reseda @ Cleveland

Sept. 3: Leuzinger @ Birmingham

Oct. 1: Banning @ San Pedro

Oct. 1: Palisades @ Venice

Oct. 8: Eagle Rock @ Franklin

Oct. 15: Birmingham @ Granada Hills

Oct. 29: Reseda @ Canoga Park

Oct. 29: Garfield vs. Roosevelt

Oct. 29: Dorsey @ Crenshaw

BOLD PREDICTION

Franklin will win the Northern League.

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