LA City Section football kicks off on Friday. Here’s everything you need to know about the teams in Division 1.
We came out with the first edition of our weekly coaches poll Tuesday morning and surprise, surprise, Narbonne received every first-place vote possible. The Gauchos have won the last five City championships and return a loaded team that has been boosted by a few transfers. I’ll get into their talent later.
Much of the talk surrounding Narbonne this offseason has been about the LAUSD investigation that began in May involving academic misconduct at the school. Since the start of the investigation, two staff members were removed, head coach Manny Douglas was reassigned by the district and there have been changes made to the principal and athletic director positions at the school.
Details emerged last week about a lawsuit that claimed some Narbonne teachers were paid to allow players to skip class but still pass. Gaucho alum and current offensive coordinator Brandon Manumaleuna took to Twitter to fervently deny the allegations.
Narbonne will begin its season on Saturday on the road against Buchanan Clovis. Interim head coach Joe Aguirre will lead the team. Until LAUSD comes out with the findings from their investigation, Narbonne will continue to play every week as if they were any other Southern California high school football program.
If the investigation clears the program of any wrongdoing, they’ll win another City championship. If violations come up, that could affect the team’s eligibility for the postseason (and future postseasons). What would happen to the 2019 Narbonne football team if they were ruled ineligible for the postseason halfway through the regular season? It could get messy.
Whether the program committed any violations or not, there’s no denying that there is currently a cloud over the team. The Gauchos must deal with this distraction as the 2019 season begins. Narbonne wants to win a state championship and they absolutely have the talent to do so. Time will tell if they get that chance.
NARBONNE TOP PLAYERS
- Jake Garcia QB Jr. 6-3 185
- Joshua Jackson jr. WR, FS Sr. 6-1 185
- Darion Green-Warren* CB Sr. 6-0 185
- Traeshon Holden* WR Sr. 6-3 190
- Jack Brown RB, WR Sr. 5-10 165
- Brandon Jones CB Sr. 5-10 175
- Jordan Banks MLB, DE Sr. 6-3 243
- Anthony Beavers Jr.* FS, SS Jr. 6-2 175
- Domajay Williams RB Sr. 5-8 165
- Eren East WR Sr. 5-10 165
- Sayeed Shah DE, OLB Sr. 6-4 235
- Elijah Queen WR Sr. 6-4 190
- Jared Greenfield FS Sr. 6-1 180
- Tomarion Harden RB, WR So. 6-0 205
- Jordan Berry DT, G Sr. 6-3 305
- Macen Williams* CB Sr. 5-11 175
*Transfer has not yet been cleared with City Section
If all of Narbonne’s transfers are eligible to play right away, they’re easily a top five team in Southern California. They looked very sharp in their scrimmage against Chaminade last week and are primed for a big season. The Gauchos are the best team in the City by a wide margin. O-line play is the one on-field area of concern in 2019. The off-the-field concerns are a different story.
Last year, Narbonne beat Garfield in the Open Division City Section championship 55-7. The No. 2 through No. 7 seeds in the Open Division were extremely close in 2018 and any of those six teams could have played Narbonne. Garfield, the six-seed, emerged from the pack. This year, Lorenzo Hernandez’s team will once again be in contention to get to the championship, but remember a new CIF rule prohibits section runners-up from advancing to state bowl games. If Garfield loses to Narbonne in the City championship again this season, then the Bulldogs season will be over.
GARFIELD TOP PLAYERS
Offense: PJ Garcia- RB, Jonathan Bautista- QB, Thomas Serrano – WR, Dominic Garcia – WR. Edder Martinez – OL
Defense: Anthony Ruvalcaba-DE, Miguel Ortiz-DE, Erick Anaya- DL, Enrique Rincon- DL, Andrew Garcia – CB, Matthew Noriega -LB
Garfield was almost in rebuild mode for 2019. Jon Bautista transferred to Roosevelt in the offseason and PJ Garcia thought about leaving too, but both are back for the Bulldogs. Bautista threw for 1,541 yards and 15 TDs last season. Garcia rushed for 1,778 yards and 22 TDs. Those would have been huge losses.
Anthony Ruvalcaba is described as a coach’s dream by the Garfield staff. He had 18 sacks last year. Both lines will be a strength for the Bulldogs this season.
Hernandez has confidence in WR Thomas Serrano to help replace star receiver Angel Hidalgo who graduated. Khyren Ross, a Dorsey transfer, will also have an impact at wide-out for Garfield after he sits out five games.
Garfield’s ceiling is once again the Open Division title game.
In 2018, Birmingham felt like they were short changed by the MaxPreps playoff rankings formula. The Patriots thought they should have been No. 2 or No. 3 in the Open Division, but ended up falling to No. 4 after Taft forfeited their regular season finale matchup. That set up a juicy first round Open Division clash with San Fernando that the Patriots won, but meant Birmingham had to face top-seeded Narbonne in the second round. They lost that game 63-23, which ended their season.
BIRMINGHAM TOP PLAYERS
ATH Mason White SR, WR/DE Arlis Boardingham SOPH, DL/OL Carlos Rivera SOPH, SS/RB Delamonte Barnes SOPH, LB Christopher Figueroa SR, DE Gabriel Rothhammer SR, OL Max Jimenez SR, QB Jackson Dadich JR
Birmingham will be an Open Division team again in 2019 and has a chance to make a championship appearance. Jackson Dadich transferred in from Cathedral for the 2019 season. His family moved so he won’t have to sit out any games to begin the year. Dadich played JV for Cathedral last year and the Patriots’ staff is high on him.
Mason White is one of the top athletes in the City. As a junior, White rushed for eight TDs and caught four more. Defensively, he intercepted five passes. The rising senior has four scholarship offers.
Head coach Jim Rose isn’t afraid to play underclassmen. White contributed as a 14-year old sophomore two years ago. Arlis Boardingham, Carlos Rivera and Delamonte Barnes all played as freshman last season. Those three will be huge pieces for the Patriots in 2019.
In my opinion, Carson is the last of the City teams with a shot to meet Narbonne in the Open Division championship this year.
Last season ended bitterly for the Colts. If you follow high school football in Southern California, then you know that if a fight breaks out on the field during a game, any player who leaves the bench and runs onto the field is automatically suspended for the team’s next game.
Carson played Narbonne in the last game of the regular season in 2018 and a fight occurred on a punt play right by the Colts’ bench. A Narbonne player beat up a Carson player so badly that the Carson player was not suspended. Twelve of his Carson teammates were suspended, however, for running onto the field to defend him. That meant they all missed the Colts’ next game, a first round Open Division playoff matchup against Garfield. Garfield won 14-10.
How last year finished for Carson will motivate this year’s group. In the regular season finale, the Colts only trailed Narbonne 7-0 at halftime. That’s something to build on.
CARSON TOP PLAYERS
Offense: Ui Ale (QB), Deiontae Wilson (RB), TJ Thompson (WR); Makoa Tuisalo’o (WR), Judah Foisia (WR)
Defense: Judah Foisia (FS); Micah Gardner (DB); Makoa Tuisalo’o (DB); TJ Thompson (DB); Jahlon Thomas (DL)
Carson’s defense will be solid. The four secondary players listed above make up a great unit. Losing DL Jairus Satele to St. John Bosco hurts, but Carson’s defensive line will be okay.
Judah Foisia wowed me during Carson’s scrimmage with Garfield and Upland. If Ui Ale develops a consistent connection with him to go along with the Colts’ rushing attack led by Deiontae Wilson then watch out.
SAN PEDRO PIRATES
So who else has a shot at making the Open Division? I think San Pedro, Palisades, San Fernando, Venice, Banning and Fairfax are all in the mix.
The San Pedro Pirates are fresh off of a Division I City championship. They beat Dorsey 22-20 in the title game and return some nice pieces.
SAN PEDRO TOP PLAYERS
Joshua Ward TB/OLB, Miguel Lopez-MLB, Isaiah Howard TB/DT, Richie Sanchez WR/DB, Josh Johnson WR/DB, Jerad Braff WR/DB, Andres Srsen WR/OLB/K, Matt Rodriquez OL/DE.
Joshua Ward was the Division I player of the year last season and will compete with Narbonne’s Tomarion Harden and Garfield’s PJ Garcia for the title of top running back in the City in 2019. Last year, Ward rushed for 1,361 yards and 18 TDs. He also caught three scores and made 70 tackles on defense.
The Pirates have some holes on their offensive line and will use a new quarterback in 2019. Head coach Corey Miller told Scorebook Live California that he’ll need his defense to carry the team early in the year while the offense adjusts.
Palisades finished 4-1 in the Western League in 2018 and will have a great chance at a league championship in 2019, but Venice, Fairfax and Westchester are contenders too. Palisades lost to Eagle Rock in the first round of the Open Division playoffs 24-21 last season.
PALISADES TOP PLAYERS
- Syaire Riley MLB, TE Sr. 6-1 225
- Forrest Brock QB Jr. 6-3 170
- Noah Ghodooshim TE, MLB Sr. 6-1 225
- Max Palees RB Sr. 6-1 190
- Waka White SS Sr. 6-0 175
- Nick Calcaterra G Jr. 6-5 330
Last season Pali threw water balloons at me because I repeatedly underestimated them.
I’m not making that mistake again. If Forrest Brock can stay healthy, Pali should win the Western League even if the Dolphins have to find some reliable wide-outs to replace graduating seniors.
Sy Riley is one of the top linebackers in the City Section. He had 21.5 tackles for loss last season.
SAN FERNANDO TIGERS
San Fernando lost its two most important players to graduation in standout running backs Nehemiah Thompson and Kyle Bryant, but the Tigers return eight starters on offense and seven on defense in 2019. The Open Division playoffs are definitely in play for this group.
SAN FERNANDO TOP PLAYERS
Offense: Chris Parker WR, Andrew Hernandez RB, Adrian Lopez QB, Gabriel Galvan OL, Darrian Allen WR
Defense: Robert Valdez LB, Keysaun Stenhouse LB, Chris Rangel DB, Felix Rodriguez DB, Chris Escobedo DL
The Tigers have experience, but players must take on bigger roles in 2019 to match last season’s success.
San Fernando mainly ran the ball in 2018 so Adrian Lopez threw for only 915 yards and 10 TDs. Chris Parker caught three of those scores. Robert Valdez played both ways for the Tigers last year and caught two TDs and made 39 tackles.
The Tigers will need more offensive production out of those three to have a season like last year. Reseda will be a better challenger for the Valley Mission League title than they were a year ago, but San Fernando is still the favorite.
Venice has the best senior quarterback in the City Section in Duke commit Luca Diamont. The problem is Diamont’s two favorite targets, Chad Johnson and Makai Cope have transferred to Cathedral and Culver City respectively.
Last season, the Gondoliers played Narbonne in the first round of the Open Division playoffs and lost 67-0. They could find themselves in a similar position this season.
VENICE TOP PLAYERS
- Luca Diamont QB Sr. 6-2 185
- Everson Bozeman RB, WR, CB Sr. 5-8 175
- Frederick Artis Kelly DL, OL Sr. 6-3 255
- Joseph Silva OL, DL Sr. 6-2 275
Venice is on the Open Division/Division 1 playoff line. A year ago Diamont threw for 2,560 yards and 26 touchdowns. Everson Bozeman added seven scores on the ground. Those two make up a great duo on offense, but who else can Venice rely on? Will their defense be able to make consistent stops? With zero transfers coming in and the losses of Johnson and Cope, it’s tough to make a case for Venice to win a round in the Open Division playoffs. The Gondoliers could definitely go on a run in Division 1 though.
Banning beat San Pedro in the regular season in 2018, but then fell in the Division 1 playoffs to Fairfax before getting a chance to play San Pedro again. The Pilots finished the year 5-7. They’ll most likely be a Division 1 playoff team again this year, but the Open Division is a possibility because they return seven starters on each side of the ball.
BANNING TOP PLAYERS
Offense: Jake Otto QB, Adrain Dominguez OL, Richard Cox WR, Jaymon Sanders WR, Marcos Uribe OL.
Defense: Nathan Dominguez LB, Diego Gudino DL, Jacob Galloway LB, Jeremiah Fa’alafua DB, Ezekiel Montes DL
Jake Otto is one of the most exciting quarterbacks in the City Section. Last season he threw for 1,150 yards and eight TDs. He added 806 rushing yards and six more scores. He’ll be the main reason Banning falls where they fall in the City Section playoff pecking order.
Fairfax is the final team that I think has a shot to make the Open Division playoffs in 2019. The Lions lost in the Division 1 semifinals a year ago to Dorsey 34-16. First-year coach Juan Solorio will rely on senior running back Jordan Reed to lead the Lions this year.
FAIRFAX TOP PLAYERS
- Jordan Reed RB, LB, ATH Sr. 5-8 160
- Shawn Holly QB, CB Sr. 6-1
- Christopher Rosales LB, RB Sr. 5-10
- Shlomo Bass T So. 6-4 275
Seven of Fairfax’s eight All-City players from a year ago graduated including star quarterback Scott Harris. Adequately replacing Harris will be extremely important for the Lions in 2019. They’ll need a passing attack to balance their strong running game to have any chance at the Open Division.
Reed rushed for 1,252 yards and seven scores last season. He’ll be Fairfax’s main man this year.
The next group of teams will be in the Division 1 playoffs and all have outside shots to contend. These teams include Crenshaw, Dorsey, Eagle Rock, Reseda and Westchester.
Once again in 2019, all is quiet on the Crenshaw football front. And that’s exactly how head coach Robert Garrett likes it. He loves to keep things close to the vest.
Here’s what I know about the Cougars. They went 5-7 last season and lost to archrival Dorsey 40-14 in the D-1 playoff quarterfinals. Senior Davontae Haulcey will start at quarterback for Crenshaw for the second year in a row. Senior receiver and defensive back James Jenkins will start both ways.
The Cougars won a state championship in 2017 and then had a down year in 2018 for their standards. We’ll see what 2019 has in store.
Dorsey had a solid first season under new coach Doug Bledsoe last year. Falling in the Division I City Championship to San Pedro still stings and the Dons’ returners will be desperate to go on another run in 2019.
DORSEY TOP PLAYERS
- SR. – Cody Mincey – 1st team All-League / 1st Team All City in 2018. (6’3/295)
- Jr. – Darion “Bam Bam” Morrison / 2nd Team All-league in 2018 (6’1/185) Wr/db
Dorsey lost two receivers to Garfield and La Salle because the Dons’ staff rarely called pass plays a year ago. We’ll see if that changes with the emergence of Darion “Bam Bam” Morrison. Similarly to Crenshaw, I don’t know too much about Dorsey, but I know it’s not a good idea to rule them out before any games have been played.
EAGLE ROCK EAGLES
Eagle Rock was an Open Division semifinalist last season, but lost nearly all of their difference makers to graduation.
EAGLE ROCK TOP PLAYERS
Offense: QB Axel Ayers, RB Daniel Zamora, OL Jericho Martinez, WR Alex Ayers, WR Rio Ramos
Defense: LB Hector Sandoval, LB Max Saucedo, DL Joe Gaskin, DL Aaron Buscato, DL Alan Cisneros
As a sophomore, Axel Ayers had a lot of success as a receiver and defensive back in 2018. He’ll now take over at quarterback for the Eagles. Daniel Zamora rushed for over 700 yards and had 12 TDs last year. That’s really the only varsity production Eagle Rock returns though, which is why I’ve penciled them in as a D-1 team.
The Eagles’ week 1 game on the road against San Pedro will be a fun one.
I am high on Reseda and think they will be a tough out in the D-1 playoffs. As far as City quarterbacks go, Agoura transfer Trent Butler is the real deal. He has some nice players around him too. Head coach Alonso Arreola’s fear is that he’s playing too much youth in the secondary. That is a legitimate concern and could be what keeps the Regents from reaching their potential in 2019.
RESEDA TOP PLAYERS
- Sr. WR/DB Dranel Rhodes
- Sr. WR/DB Mario Martinez
- Sr. QB Trent Butler
Reseda’s offensive triple threat of Butler, Rhodes and Martinez stacks up against every other City team’s top three skill position players other than Narbonne’s. Assuming these three can stay healthy and Martinez can stay disciplined (he’s had some issues with that in the past), these three will keep the Regents in every game. I firmly believe that. The main question with the Regents is do they have enough depth?
Palisades and San Fernando are the toughest matchups on the schedule for Reseda in 2019.
Like Carson, the last team in this grouping, Westchester, had their playoff hopes dashed because of a fight in 2018. A few Comets got in a skirmish in their first-round playoff win over Jefferson and were then suspended for the quarterfinal matchup with South Gate, a game Westchester lost 21-12.
Rising senior quarterback Jeliun Carter was one of the players suspended last season. He called the experience “a lesson learned.”
WESTCHESTER TOP PLAYERS
- Jeliun Carter QB, P Sr. 6-2 185
- Jacoby Sims WR, CB Sr. 5-10 160
- Jermaine Criss G, DT Sr. 5-10 260
Carter is out for the first five games of the season because of a knee injury which will surely hurt Westchester’s playoff seeding. Nathaniel Adams had a great junior season for the Comets at running back, but is not listed on the team’s 2019 roster. That would be a big loss.
Carter is a great quarterback so if he returns to action fully healthy and ready to play, the Comets have a shot in Division 1 and will be a pest to other teams in the Western League. Potentially losing Adams really hurts though.
The next group of teams will be Division 1 playoff teams. They include Arleta, Bell, Cleveland, El Camino Real, Granada Hills, Locke, Roosevelt and South Gate.
Arleta head coach Bill Coan was frustrated last season when he lost star running back EJ Gable to Sierra Canyon in the offseason (as any coach would be). This year, the Mustangs are moving up from Division 2 and their leading rusher is sticking around, senior James Ochoa. Arleta has a great chance to win the East Valley League and will be a definite Division 1 playoff team.
ARLETA TOP PLAYERS
- James Ochoa TB, KR, OLB Sr. 5-8 170
- Alex Pleitez QB, WR, DB Sr. 5-9 165
- Dustin Jaramillo WR, DB Sr. 5-6 130
- Mike Ramirez OT, DT Jr. 6-1 330
Any team that has been moved up from Division 2 has caught a tough break in my eyes. None of those teams will be capable of competing for City titles this season at the Open or D-1 level. That’s the reality.
Arleta has a great rushing attack led by Ochoa, who ran for 1,962 yards and 25 TDs in 2019. He’ll get Arleta to the D-1 playoffs, where they might even win a round, but the run will most likely end there.
The Bell Eagles are coming up from Division 2 as well and return a lot of talent on their lines.
BELL TOP PLAYERS
- Carlos Leal OT, DT Sr. 6-3 255
- Ivan Gomez OG, DE Sr. 6-0 225
- Jose Flores OG, DE Sr. 6-4 238
- Lucio Chavez C Sr. 6-5 275
- Jeremy Robles FS, SB Sr. 5-7 145
- Erick Curl SB, DB Sr. 5-8 145
- Oscar Benitez DT, OT Sr. 6-0 233
- Justin Gutierrrez DT Sr. 5-10 215
- David Velgara DB, WR Jr. 5-7 135
Carlos Leal is a great lineman and starters Ivan Gomez, Jose Flores and Lucio Chavez are all back too. It’s just tough to envision a team that was only a D-2 quarterfinalist a year ago making a run in Division 1.
The Eastern League will be fascinating in 2019. Garfield will win, but who takes second? Roosevelt, South Gate and Bell will all battle for the two spot. I think all of those teams end up making the D-1 playoffs.
Cleveland has a new coach in Scott Faer. The Cavaliers will be inexperienced in 2019, but Faer is very happy with the work his team put in in the offseason, he told Scorebook Live California.
CLEVELAND TOP PLAYERS
Offense: Kareim Muhammad-RB, Caleb McCarty-RB, Jonathan Erazo-OG, Daniel Mauricio-QB, Jonathan Segura OT
Defense: Nelson Polio-CB, Daryl Coleman-CB, Gerardo Abrego-LB, Caleb McCarty-LB and Kareim Muhammad-SS
Here’s Faer’s take:
“I would say our strength is on defense. We have some hitters that play downhill. We have solid RBs led by Kareim with some good supporting backs. We lost a lot of seniors from last year. It is almost a brand new team with guys that have never started on varsity.”
I still think Cleveland makes the playoff despite the inexperience. They should beat Taft and Chatsworth in West Valley League play which will be enough for a playoff berth.
EL CAMINO REAL CONQUISTADORS
El Camino Real received a few votes in our preseason coaches poll so they’re certainly not sneaking up on anyone.
EL CAMINO REAL TOP PLAYERS
- Matthew Abajian QB
- Bryce Smets WR/DB
- Talib Salahuddin DE/TE
- Damian Palmieri DB
- Jose Castillion FS
- Elijah Vazquez C
- Anthony Raya K
The Conquistadors return five starters on each side of the ball. Abajian will build off of a solid sophomore season where he tossed 10 touchdowns. Smets will be his main target. Elco should finish second in the West Valley league to Birmingham once again in 2019. That should give them a top-eight seed in the D-1 playoffs.
GRANADA HILLS HIGHLANDERS
The Bucky Brooks head coaching era has begun for Granada Hills and the school community is very excited. Brooks coached at Notre Dame Sherman Oaks for the last 10 seasons in addition to doing TV work for the NFL Network. Now the former NFL player has a program of his own and he hopes to build it into one of the City’s best.
GRANADA HILLS TOP PLAYERS
Top Offensive Players: Sam Ahn (RB), Jalen Thompson (WR/TE), Brandon Ojeda (OT), Salazar Ochoa (OG), Eric Marcias (OT), Tonatiuh Meza (QB)
Top Defensive Players: Alexander “Sasha” Vekic (DE), Kenneth Daniels (DT), David Vasquez (LB), Owen Jennings (FS), Justin Tapia (CB), Eric Chi (DB)
Brooks’ main goal in year one is to change the culture. The Highlanders were a playoff team last season and will be again in 2019, but Brooks wants to do it his way. Here’s his take on the upcoming season and program-building in general.
“We expect to have a solid season in 2019. The kids have really worked hard throughout the offseason and we believe the seniors will set the tempo for the rest of the team. We expect to be a smart, tough and physical football team who exhibits great effort and discipline on the field. We want selfless players who value the team over their individual agendas and that should be reflected in our play. When we play together, we will win and everyone will receive the recognition and credit for the sacrifices made for the betterment of the team.”
“We believe our diversity is our biggest strength. We truly reflect our community and we want the Granada Hills community to support us in all of our endeavors. To that point, the GHC football team has devoted time and energy towards various volunteer efforts in the community. We want to leave the community in a better place.”
Locke won the Division 2 City championship last season and look like the team most likely to make a run in D1 after moving up a division.
LOCKE TOP PLAYERS
- Ja’Quez Harvey QB, DE, TE Jr. 6-3 230
- Elijah Brown DL, OL, ILB Sr. 6-4 245
Locke is similar to the other two Coliseum League teams previewed so far; it’s tough to get information on them. The reason I’m higher on Locke than the other teams coming up from the lower divisions is because of Ja’Quez Harvey.
The rising junior has a few Pac-12 scholarship offers and was one of the leaders on last year’s championship team as a sophomore playing both defensive end and tight end. He loves Locke and working with head coach Mike Klyce. This year he’ll be transitioning to quarterback. I wish opposing teams luck trying to bring him down. Harvey will be a great under the radar prospect to watch in 2019 and the Saints will be a fun under the radar team. They should finish third in the Coliseum League again which will be good enough for a D-1 playoff spot.
ROOSEVELT ROUGH RIDERS
Roosevelt is taking their double wing offense to Division 1 after falling to Locke in the Division 2 championship game last season.
ROOSEVELT TOP OFFENSIVE PLAYERS
- Angel Ochoa, all city RB
- Frankie Cruz, all city RB
- Benjamin Reyes, OL
- Ernie Melchor, OL
- Alfredo Sepulveda, TE, all city
TOP DEFENSIVE PLAYERS
- Josue Lopez, DE
- Ramage Brumfield, DB
- Andres Flores, DB
- Ruben Castillo, DL
- Alek Rojas, DL
Roosevelt will fight with Bell and South Gate for second place in the Eastern League. Angel Ochoa and Frankie Cruz combined for over 1,800 yards and 24 TD’s last season. That rushing attack will be tough to stop even for a lot of Division 1 teams.
South Gate went 8-5 a year ago and returns a good amount of players from that team.
SOUTH GATE TOP PLAYERS
- Sr. OL Peter Lopez
- Sr. QB Andrew Gallegos
- Jr. OL Eric Michael Plascencia
South Gate projects as a double-digit D-1 playoff seed. All three of the players listed above were All-City selections in 2018. That’s a nice group to build around for head coach Eric Torres.
The final group of teams could face an uphill battle to make the playoffs. This group includes Grant, Santee and Sylmar.
Grant had a great 2019. The Lancers rolled to a 6-0 East Valley League record and made the D-1 playoffs. The reason I have them projected in this tier is because they got hit hard by graduation. The Lancers return just three starters from last year’s team, two on offense and one on defense.
GRANT TOP PLAYERS
Michael Smith (RB), David Flores OL/DL, Joseph Avalos LB/OL, Jeremiah Daily RB/LB, Damarijon Simpkins WR/DB.
Here is head coach Franco Stasilli’s breakdown of his team: “We lost a lot of seniors. We are returning some talented players but we are a very young team.”
Sylmar is similar to Grant in the sense that they made the D-1 playoffs last season, but are very young in 2019. The Spartans have a new coach in LaRon Johnson who faces an uphill battle in year one. The Spartans definitely can make the playoffs, but I see them as a double digit seed at best.
SYLMAR TOP PLAYERS
Offense – QB Lucio Foster, WR Adam Ayon, RB Jonathan Villareal, QB Shane Haggerty
Defense – FS JT Solis, DB Granjel Pelayo, CB Enrique Cantareno, LB Edrick Mack
Here is coach Johnson’s take on his team: “We will be young but hungry. We only have twelve seniors and a lot of talented underclassmen. We will be young in key places but with time this team will get to rolling.”
Finally, Santee is the lone team making the jump from Division 3 to Division 1 in 2019. That alone presents a huge challenge for the Falcons.
Here’s the other challenge: last year’s star running back Joseph Todd has graduated. He amassed over 3,000 all-purpose yards last season. Todd would have been a great player to have in year one of competing in the section’s top division. The Falcons bring back just two starters on both sides of the ball in 2019.
SANTEE TOP PLAYERS
Offense – Cristianny Mendez, Nate Perez, Anthony Arévalo, Anthony Flores, Adam McKinney
Defense – Cristianny Mendez, Yordi Colocho, Adam McKinney, Eddie Osuna, Nate Perez
Santee has zero D-1 teams on their schedule which means they have zero D-1 teams in their league. Even if they go 10-0, they could miss the playoffs because they’ll have such a low ranking in the RPI (although I doubt that will happen). It doesn’t really make sense for them to be in Division 1, but here we are.
The Falcons have a chance to make the playoffs because they’ll probably win the Exposition League. But how will they possibly be ready for the D-1 playoffs if they haven’t played a single D-1 team? That doesn’t make much sense to me, but it’s not Santee’s fault. The division placements came out well after teams finalized their 2019 schedules.
Here is my preseason Top 10.
- San Pedro
- San Fernando
If you made it this far, thanks for reading!