|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.
MATER DEI’S NEW OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR…THE QUARTERBACK
|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.
A NEW SEA KING RISES IN LE
|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.
ALL VALENCIA DOES IS WIN
|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.
QUARTERBACK CONUNDRUM AT CATHEDRAL?
|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.
SLOW STARTS, BUT STRONG FINISHES FOR BONNIE
|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.