In the CIF-Los Angeles City and Southern Section, prep football is what is called “Zero Week” as Week One is next week.
There are several teams opening their season on Friday. Among the biggest games should be North Torrance at Redondo, Palos Verdes vs. Newport Beach Corona del Mar at Estancia High in Costa Mesa and Gardena Serra at Lakewood. Others include San Pedro at Downey, South Gate South East at Banning, Leuzinger vs. Morningside at Coleman Stadium in Inglewood, Bishop Montgomery at Bellflower, Oakland Stellar Prep at St. Bernard, Gardena at Oxnard Santa Clara, Westchester at South Gate and Inglewood Animo Leadership vs. North Hollywood East Valley in eight-man. All games begin at 7 p.m.
The local leagues should be very competitive.
Here is a list of top prep football teams in the South Bay:
1. Serra—The Cavaliers may have lost eight seniors to Major Division I colleges but don’t panic. Serra continues to be the Serra it has been for the past several seasons. It is loaded with more Major NCAA Division I college prospects, four whom already committed. The most recent signee is five-star recruit Oluwole Betiku who signed a few weeks ago at UCLA. Others are all-around quarterback Khlil Tate to University of Arizona, linebacker Blake Walls to San Jose State and safety C.J. Pollard to University of Southern California.
The Cavaliers have other top prospects including senior wide receivers Brandon Burton and Diego Williams and senior tight end Kevin Hicks. There are also two sophomores wide receivers in Merlin Robertson and Job McGinity.
Serra’s running game will be led by junior Anthony Torres and senior Michael Moore.
Keying on the offensive line will be returning starting tackle Steven Wynn, senior Alonzo Abdullah, junior guard Kordell Ross and sophomore Vatrui Finai.
A weak spot for the Cavaliers may be that they may not quite have the depth it had in the recent past. Seven starters are expected to go both ways.
Betiku is expected to key as a defensive end, as will Hicks. Ross will start at nose guard.
The linebackers include Walls, Robertson and Tyson Parker.
Serra continues to be in the rigorous Mission League, led by La Puente Bishop Amat, which was ranked 23rd in the United States by the Maxpreps Xcellent 25.
2. Narbonne—Like Serra, Narbonne is loaded with talent. In fact, some believe that the Gauchos may be deeper than the Cavaliers.
Last year, Narbonne won its third CIF-Los Angeles City Section Division I title in the past four seasons by defeating Marine League rival Carson 33-20 at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum.
The Gauchos are led by University of Arizona-bound senior running back Sean Riley. In the 2014 season, Riley rushed for 1,250 yards and nine touchdowns. He also had 577 yards in receptions.
Third year starting senior quarterback Roman Ale is back after throwing for 2,803 yards and 26 TD’s. Ale will also have a sophomore backup in Jalen Chatman, who many believe will be a highly regarded Major NCAA Division I prospect.
Another Arizona commit, wide receiver DeVaughn Cooper, also had a big junior season last year. Other top receivers for Narbonne include Lewis Citizenh, Vincent Heard and Cedric Byrd.
The Gaucho defense will be led by junior end Anthony Pandy, who is also expected to be a major college recruit. In 2014, Pandy had 11 quarterback sacks as a sophomore.
Narbonne also has an outstanding linebacker in University of Nevada commit Daniel Brown. Other top defensive players for the Gauchos include Jamal Hicks and Malik Street.
The Gauchos are solid favorites in the Marine and should win their second consecutive L.A. City Division I crown. Narbonne will have a big home opener against Southern Section PAC Five power Long Beach Poly on Sept. 3.
3. Palos Verdes—Palos Verdes High’s football team won the CIF-Southern Section Western Division crown over a very good Ventura team last year, its second Southern Section championship in three seasons.
Palos Verdes, though, is not quite as athletic but it finds a way to win the big games with its very good discipline and mentality.
The Sea Kings will be mostly young with a sophomore quarterback in Bo Henderson and he will have some good receivers in junior wide receiver Nick Alessi and tight ends Kyle Messinger and Shane Irwin.
P.V.’s running game will be led by junior Adison Umrarong, who is also expected to start as defensive back.
The Sea Kings should have a good defensive line behind senior Reid Helton and junior Koa Hymes.
P.V. will have a tough preseason schedule, beginning with a Corona del Mar team from Newport Beach that has been doing very well lately and won Southern Section crowns in 2012 and 2013.
On Sept. 11, the Sea Kings host powerful Narbonne, which is one of the top teams in California this year.
4. Redondo—Last season, Redondo High’s football team, that was mostly young with little experience, started slow with a tough non-league schedule that included powers Upland, Mission Viejo and West Torrance, but the Sea Hawks got it going by finishing second, behind Southern Section Western Division champion Palos Verdes, in the Bay League and made it to the Western Division quarterfinals.
Those young players matured and are seeking to end the Sea Kings’ reign of the Bay and get their first league crown since tying P.V. for the Bay title in 2007 or/and its first outright since winning the Ocean in 2003.
Redondo did lose promising running back Guy Alford, who transferred to Mission Hills Alemany, but got a break by picking up Mira Costa transfer quarterback Jason Silvera. With the Mustangs last season, Silvera completed 114 of 203 passes for 1,552 yards and 13 touchdowns with four interceptions. He rushed for 239 more.
The Sea Hawk also got another break when head coach Matt Ballard added former Redondo head mentor Gene Simon to his staff. Simon, who guided the Sea Hawks to a 100-76-3 record in his 16 seasons from 1996-2011, will be offensive coordinator. Simon spent last season as an assistant at Loyola in L.A.
Redondo should have good depth. Despite the loss of Alford, the Sea Hawks have very good speed behind running back Jerone (J.J.) Jackson and Dallas Branch, both who were on Redondo’s Bay League championship 4×100-meter relay in track and field last spring.
Silvera, along with senior reserve Preston Faecher (started most games last year), will have a very good receiver in Warren Jackson, also a member of Redondo’s spring relay from track. Faecher will regularly start at wide receiver, the position he had before the starting quarterback during most of the season. Faecher, however, injured his right shoulder in last week’s scrimmage against Loyola and is not expected to play in today’s game against North Torrance.
Redondo’s defense will be led by first-team all-league end Cedrick Muzik and all-league linebacker Faecher.
Junior Dan Zimmerman, who keyed the Sea Hawks’ baseball team to the CIF-Southern Section Division III title in June, will be a top lineman.
This is the 100th anniversary of Redondo’s football program and it would like to duplicate like its baseball team did on its centennial season from last spring, win a CIF-Southern Section championship.
5. Carson—Last season, Carson had a win over Narbonne in the Marine League, only to see the injury plagued Colts fall to the Gauchos in the CIF-L.A. City Section Division I final.
The Colts lost a hunk of top players, including dominating back Jabari Minix and quarterback Kiki Flores.
Carson does return all-Marine League safety Deshawn Littleton who is expected to start at quarterback. He’ll have a good junior running back in Adreann Hooper, who led Carson’s rushing with 764 yards and five touchdowns. He’ll also have a good returning receiver in Kyrin Cannon.
The Colts have a very good defensive secondary behind Joseph Torres and Noah Jackson.
Carson may be rebuilding but it is always a dangerous team.
6. West Torrance—West Torrance High’s football team advanced, at least, to the CIF-Southern Section semifinals for the third consecutive season, last year.
During most of the 2014 season, the Warriors were the top seed and unbeaten until being eliminated by ex-Bay League nemesis and eventual champion Palos Verdes in the semifinals.
The Warriors lost a large number of outstanding players but have plenty of talent back in chase of their second straight Pioneer League title and a deep run in the Western Division playoffs.
West loves to use the no huddle, hurry up offense and will have a good junior quarterback in Drake Peabody, son of current Long Beach City College head football coach Brett Peabody. Last year, Peabody did well on the Warriors’ junior varsity squad leading them to an 8-2 record and a Pioneer crown. Peabody is also a good running quarterback.
He’ll have a good receiver in 6-foot-2, 200-pound Cody Wissler, a returning starter who might even be a back-up quarterback. West should have a very balanced receiving corps in seniors Brylen Baucham and Michael Timmerman. Junior Alex Gin will be a top running back. Also back is receiver Dane Silverlake, also a standout goalkeeper on West’s Pioneer championship boys’ soccer team last year.
A top lineman on both sides for the Warriors will be Luis Aguiar.
Defensively, West will have three very good linebackers in Timmerman, Wissler and Ryan Shioda.
The Warriors picked up two key transfers in Casey Wright (Torrance) and Tristan Osborne (South Torrance).
7. San Pedro—San Pedro High’s football program has always been, along with powers Narbonne and Carson, the big three in the Marine League, and this year will be no exception.
The Priates return third year starting quarterback Jacob Miller and he has a good receiver in A.J. Frazier, who is also a very good defensive back. Frazier, a speedster who is also a standout sprinter on San Pedro’s track and field team, had 515 all-purpose yards.
San Pedro lost two key running backs in Chris Alvidrea and Christian Serna but received Narbonne transfer Brian Haisey and will have another very good one in Jo-Jo Santiago.
Christian Michaels will also be very good at wide receiver and defensive back.
The Pirates return two very good defensive linemen in Mike Spinosa and Juan Campuzano.
San Pedro is capable of knocking off any very good team, including Narbonne, Carson and Redondo.
8. Mira Costa—In the 2014 season, Mira Costa started out as a top Bay League contender, before big early season injury losses to running back Tre Searcy and top linebacker Dane Largent.
The result was a 3-7 overall record and 2-3 in league making the Mustangs miss the CIF-Southern Section Western Division playoffs after placing fourth in league.
Mira Costa also lost expected returning starting quarterback Jason Silvera, who transferred to rival Redondo in June but has a promising junior in 6-foot-2 David Arredondo, who keyed the Mustang junior varsity squad to a co-league title with Inglewood.
A key receiver for Arredondo will be senior tight end Cameron Alexander.
Mira Costa also has two Tavai brothers in senior offensive-defensive lineman Justus and sophomore fullback-defensive lineman Jonah.
Look for the Mustangs to be in the thick of the Bay League race.
9. Lawndale—Led by junior quarterback Chris Murray, Lawndale High’s football team enjoyed its best season since the 1970’s in placing second, behind El Segundo, in the Ocean League.
The Cardinals lost in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Western Division playoffs to eventual champion Palos Verdes but not before taking the Sea Kings to the limits before falling short 35-28.
Lawndale will be under first year head coach Travis Clark, who spent the past few seasons at his alma mater, Santa Monica High.
Last season, Murray threw for 29 touchdowns and combined for more than 2,000 yards passing and rushing.
He’ll have a very good wide receiver in Bryant Perkinson, who is, according to Clark, an outstanding all-around player who can play running back, as well. Perkinson will probably play defensive back.
Boise State commit defensive back-wide receiver Jaylon Walker and all-Ocean League running back Zinch Cooper are also key returning starters for the Cardinals.
10. North Torrance—All North Torrance High opponents will have their hands full on one of Southern California’s most dominating players in all-around Mique Juarez. Juarez, who committed to USC, is expected to start at quarterback and linebacker.
Juarez could bring back memories of the early 1990’s Stais Boseman, a standout all-around player at Inglewood Morningside who was very similar.
Juarez is like several players in one who is capable of beating any team single-handedly.
Jarez is a returning first-team all-CIF Southern Section Western Division and all-state senior. He is also preseason all-American.
He will have a good supporting cast, behind returning starters Jason Colclasure, an all-Pioneer Leaguer, and Justin Allmond.
Other teams to watch: El Segundo, South Torrance, Banning, Bishop Montgomery, Morningside.
Snyder’s 2015 League Picks:
CIF-Southern Section: Bay: 1. Palos Verdes, 2. Redondo, 3. Mira Costa, 4. Morningside, 5. Peninsula, 6. Inglewood.
Mission: 1. Bishop Amat, 2. Serra, 3. Alemany, 4. Crespi, 5. Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, 6. Loyola, 7. Chaminade.
Ocean: 1. Lawndale, 2. Santa Monica, 3. El Segundo, 4. Culver City, 5. Hawthorne, 6. Beverly Hills.
Pioneer: 1. West Torrance, 2. North Torrance, 3. South Torrance, 4. Torrance, 5. Leuzinger, 6. Compton Centennial.
CIF-L.A. City Section: Marine: 1. Narbonne, 2. Carson, 3. San Pedro, 4. Banning, 5. Gardena, 6. Washington.