Friday, July 22, 2016


Keyshawn Johnson Jr. is returning to lead a stacked group of wide receivers at Calabasas High this upcoming season (photo by Lorenzo Reyna). 
The term “no fly zone” – a motivational moniker that is commonly used by defensive backs - likely won’t work against these teams in California on Friday nights this fall.

Ten high schools between the Sacramento region and the Inland Empire have a loaded group of wideouts that goes three to five deep, making life easy for whoever throws them the football and whoever calls the passing plays.

It’s time to sort out the state's most prized wide receiving units this fall.

Los Angeles-Augustus Hawkins

Where else can you find the top wide receiver out west for the Class of 2017 in Joseph Lewis and the potential No. 1 receiver in 2018 in Jalen Hall? There’s also 2017 Arizona athlete commit Greg Johnson, who has seen the ball come his way out of the backfield.

Lewis and Hall are red zone dominators and man coverage destroyers at wideout. Both are nearly 6-foot-3, close to 200-pounds, listed as 5-star prospects and hold over 30 scholarship offers.

Buena Park

Good luck to any defense that tries to slow down an aerial assault that not only tallied 3,460 yards through the air last season, but returns five players who accounted for 163 catches, 2,684 yards and 30 touchdowns for a team that went 10-3.

Lead wideout Jeremiah Hawkins is back, who piled 20 scholarship offers before deciding on Cal. Hawkins led the Coyotes in catches (45), yards (775) and emerged as one of the top deep threat options for BP. Big 6-foot-3, 200-pound target Taariq Johnson - 34 catches, 477 yards and six scores last year - also committed to the Golden Bears. Versatile two-way stud Elijah Gates (team-high 10 touchdowns, 20 reported offers including Michigan, Norte Dame and TCU), rising 2018 prospect Devon Cooley (eight touchdowns last season, offered by UCLA and Colorado), and 6-foot-2 Alijah Allen (Colorado offer) adds to the returning BP wide receiving unit. Incoming 6-foot-1 Class of 2018 target Victor Bates (BYU and Colorado State offers) provides even more depth to an already stockpiled unit.

Santa Ana-Mater Dei

It’s a relatively young group at Mater Dei, but highly-touted Class of 2019 quarterback J.T. Daniels has a bevy of weapons at his disposal for this season, next season and the year after.

Leading the upperclassmen unit is 2017 prospect Osiris St. Brown, who led the Monarchs in all three receiving categories with 43 catches, 884 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. He has the likes of Michigan, Michigan State, Stanford and USC trying to pilfer him. Younger brother Amon-Ra St. Brown already has 12 offers and, like Osiris, has Michigan State, Stanford and USC making an attempt to court the 2018 prospect. Incoming junior Nikko Remigio (six offers including a recent Tennessee offer) surfaced as a reliable inside target who showed zero fear with going across the middle last year. Class of 2019 prospect Bru McCoy and 2018 target C.J. Parks round out the rest of the Monarch core.


You can be assured that the normally run-heavy Huskies will air it out more this fall. And why not?

Bishop Gorman (NV.) transfer Tyjon Lindsey – arguably the top slot receiver in the nation – is wearing the Centennial red and black this season. Lindsey is a six-point threat whenever he touches the ball. Mountain West prospect Xavier Marshall (Nevada and Utah State offers) gives Centennial a tall possession, red zone option at 6-foot-2. Class of 2018 prospect Manuel Allen provides another tall and athletic option for the Huskies at 6-foot-2. Incoming senior Troy Spencer and junior Justin Fisher round out the deep unit.


The good news for defensive backs and defensive coordinators? The Coyotes won’t have leading receiver Brian Hightower this fall, as the 2018 prospect with over 25 offers has since moved on to Florida powerhouse IMG Academy.

But the bad news? Nebraska commit Keyshawn Johnson Jr. returns. So does 5-star Darnay Holmes, who doubles as big-play receiver and shut down cornerback. The Coyotes also added Jamal Tims this past spring, who comes to Calabasas from John Muir in Pasadena.

Los Angeles-Cathedral

Forget the fact that Jamire Calvin and Arex Flemings aren’t even 5-foot-10.

Calvin is a fearless route runner who attacks coverages with his fundamentals, speed, blocking and competitive nature, proven by his 33 current offers including one from defending national champion Alabama. The Oregon State commit Flemings electrifies the Phantom offense on jet sweeps, special team returns and on deep routes. Class of 2018 prospect Colin Payne, who saw action at cornerback on varsity last season, adds additional speed and routes to the high-octane Phantom offense.

Los Angeles-Salesian

A team that went 5-5 last season is looking like a serious CIF Southern Section title threat with the playmakers returning to the perimeter.

It starts with three-way sensation and Oregon commit Deommodore Lenoir, who torches man coverage and can haul in some highlight reel catches. Nick Pickett is a tall playmaker with a reported 4.51 40-yard dash time and has Utah and Washington State in hot pursuit of the 6-foot-3 receiver. Uriel Blackshear, who has drawn mid-major and Football Championship Subdivision interest, adds a receiving element out of the backfield. Lastly, A.J. Johnsom is looking like he’ll have an expanded role in the slot.

Westlake Village-Oaks Christian

How do you replace Michael Pittman II? With another Pittman in incoming 2019 prospect Mycah.

But that’s not all. Athletic tight end option and Stanford commit Colby Parkinson returns, all 6-foot-7, 225-pounds of him. There’s also returning senior Michael Owusu, who is a part of the Owusu family tree that sent Francis (Stanford) and Brian (Harvard) to the college ranks. USC 2018 quarterback commit Matt Corral still has plenty of options to throw to this fall on La Tienda Dr.


The Bulldogs continue to have a revolving door of star receivers and this year’s group should make life easy for whoever ends up replacing Jake Jeffrey at quarterback this fall.

Eric Davis, the team’s second-leading receiver in receptions with 48, is back, as the 5-foot-9 senior also tied for the team lead with nine touchdowns in 2015-16. Another returner is Drake Stallworth, an athletic and fast 6-foot-2 target with 11 offers including Fresno State and Hawaii. Emerging junior Brandon Rupchock rounds out this deep group after averaging 12.7 yards per catch on varsity.

Stockton-St. Mary’s

The Rams are known to be balanced on offense, but the strength has to be the air attack, with all three of St. Mary’s top receivers back again this fall.

Dewey Cotton returns after leading St. Mary’s with 56 catches, 962 yards and 12 scores. Cotton currently has one offer from Sacramento State. Rejoining Cotton is Keaton Hampton (34 catches, 901 yards and 10 touchdowns) and 2018 prospect Marcus Aponte (27 catches, 448 yards and one touchdown).

Monday, July 11, 2016


Mater Dei's Jalen Cole body slams a Corona Del Mar wide receiver during the "Battle of the Beach" tournament held at Edison High School in Huntington Beach (photo by Lorenzo Reyna). 
The end of 7-on-7 season came to its closure for yours truly at 4 p.m. at Huntington Beach on July 9.

The grind began in February with the outstanding team at Passing Down. It ended five months later with the annual “Battle of the Beach” tournament down in Edison High.

The July 9 tournament gave me an early indication of what could lie ahead for some of the teams down in Southern California, especially the ones from state kingpins in the Trinity League and PAC-5. Here’s some final thoughts as we now steer toward the lights coming back on one month from now.


Incoming sophomore quarterback J.T. Daniels surveys the field before running a play for Mater Dei. Daniels was seen calling the plays for the Monarchs on July 9 (photo by Lorenzo Reyna). 

I can’t think of any underclassman who has handled scrutiny and expectations better than incoming sophomore J.T. Daniels, who jumped into the football talent pool early at renowned powerhouse Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei as a starting varsity quarterback during his freshman season.

Now Daniels has a new title at Mater Dei: offensive play-caller.

That’s right, the same school and illustrious program that produced Matt Leinert, Matt Barkley, Colt Brennan and countless others has given the young Daniels the play-calling reins, something the previous Monarch stars never had the opportunity to do. Daniels has responded magnificently, by leading Mater Dei to top 10 finishes at different tournaments and recently, a 7-0 mark and the Monarchs winning the Edison High tourney.

Eight universities hailing from the Power Five realm have made an early recruiting sales pitch to the 2019 prospect, with Norte Dame reportedly the early front-runner.


Corona Del Mar's Tae Le maintains control and footing in the back of the end zone during a 7-on-7 game against Mater Dei (photo by Lorenzo Reyna). 

The hype at Newport Beach’s Corona Del Mar High School is on Cal commit Chase Garbers. Makes sense considering the astronomical numbers the quarterback put up last season and the Elite 11 accolades he got during the spring.

But one guy who has made Garbers look good this spring/summer is perhaps the next top recruit for the Sea Kings: 2018 tight end Tae Le.

Le, who is of Vietnamese descent, has given Garbers a tall, physical and dominant red zone presence at 6-foot-4 and nearly 200-pounds. He was Garbers’ top target on the Edison High field and has been the go-to-guy for the future Golden Bear during the offseason. 

It is obvious Le is getting the ball this fall for a Sea Kings team that should be among the heavy favorites to win the CIF Southern Section Division IV crown.


Valencia High defenders get ready to line up against Rancho Santa Margarita at the Edison High tournament (photo by Lorenzo Reyna). 

Valencia High may not always produce the biggest household names on the recruiting trail, with Shane Vereen (Cal, New England Patriots) being the last prominent name to come from the VHS pipeline. Nor are they a team that you usually see challenging the big dogs in the Los Angeles or Orange County region.

But the Vikings know how to put together victories down in Six Flags Magic Mountain country, and they proved just that on Saturday.

Led by the sophomore duo of quarterback Aaron Thomas and running back Mykael Wright, Valencia advanced to the finals of the Edison tournament, falling to eventual champ Mater Dei.

Head coach Larry Muir has assembled teams built to win eight games or more in the last five seasons. Looks like the Vikes are due for another solid year.


Los Angeles-Cathedral freshman Bryce Young looks for an open target against St. Bonaventure. Young, a 2020 prospect, rotated at quarterback for Cathedral during the July 9 tournament (photo by Lorenzo Reyna). 

Incoming senior Andrew Tovar has been dropping bombs and touchdowns for the Phantoms’ varsity team since his freshman year, with 95 career touchdown throws to back that claim up.

But the 6-foot-2 Tovar was seen rotating at quarterback with what is looking like the future of Cathedral…and a guy who could challenge right away: Bryce Young.

The 2020 prospect Young already has two offers from Texas Tech and Utah State, plus emerged as a youth football sensation before linking up with Cathedral. 

Maybe head coach Kevin Pearson considers a two-headed rotation behind center this fall. Both quarterbacks provide explosive plays and come equipped with a cool demeanor.


St. Bonaventure tight end Stone Martin hauls in the touchdown catch against Cathedral during elimination play (photo by Lorenzo Reyna)

Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure has lately developed a habit of starting off slow in tournaments.

But the Seraphs still manage to keep their day going, by finishing among the last four teams at the Adidas Tournament and at Edison High to end the 2016 7-on-7 run.

The last minute spark was led by the versatility of 2018 prospect Chuck Wick, as the running back provided a receiving element and some ankle-breaking moments on the field. Incoming 2018 quarterback Mason Quandt has engineered long scoring drives with a sense of calm and precision to his throws. The hidden gems for this Seraph team could be at tight end, where Stone Martin and Noah Gianelli have seen the ball come their way often. Both could see an expanded role in this offense.

Defensively, 2019 prospect Kamren Fabiculanan has placed the lockers on receivers throughout the spring and summer. He already has a BYU offer and could see more scholarship papers with a strong sophomore campaign.