One of the first big passing tournaments for high school teams was held this past weekend at Los Alamitos with the team representing Mater Dei (teams couldn’t use their school designations) coming away with the title.
The tournament was also a snapshot at how much the high-profile transfers will impact the top teams in southern California this year.
With the Monarchs, we’ve talked a lot about the impact incoming linebackers Solomon Tuliaupupu (Claremont) and Mase Funa (Santa Margarita) should have to the physical presence of the Monarch defense, but what remains to be seen is how much those two players will help when teams like Bosco and Centennial simply decide to spread them out and throw it around. That will be a huge part of helping Mater Dei and their hopes of getting a championship this year because they are loaded in so many other ways.
Oaks Christian has been impacted as much as any team around, with a USC-commit quarterback leaving in Matt Corral (to LB Poly) and a top underclass receiver in Mycah Pittman who moved to Calabasas. The Lions did bring in one of the more high-profile players in Kayvon Thibodeaux (photo above) from Dorsey, a defensive end who has been ranked by some services as the top player in the nation for the class of 2019. Thibodeaux certainly struck an imposing figure at the passing tournament with his 6-5, 240 frame as he took part as an OLB and tight end. Thibodeaux and USC commit Bo Calvert (6-4, 215) will be a terrific duo for Lions, and Calvert’s brother Josh will take over for Corral at QB.
With Corral at Poly, along with incoming receiver Jalen Hall and defensive back Aashari Crosswell (both ranked as national recruits) coming from Hawkins, the Jackrabbits feel like this a shot to get back into the Pac-5 title race after a period where they haven’t been as much of a factor. Corral is the best quarterback to line up for Poly since Chris Lewis in the late 90’s, and while the chemistry between Matt and his receivers is still developing, you have to figure they will be ready once the season rolls around.
There could be more dominoes to fall too. Marcus Johnson, the USC commit corner, is just one of the many talented players left at Hawkins who many feel are destined to end up elsewhere after the dismissal of the school coaches. That could include De’Gabriel Floyd, the USC commit linebacker who transferred to Golden Valley, but who could always end up at another school in the fall for football season.
One player who didn’t transfer and who is patiently waiting his turn is 2020 quarterback DJ Uiagalelei from St. John Bosco. He’s one of the more physically impressive quarterbacks out there, somewhere in the 6-4 to 6-5 range and around 240 pounds. He’s big enough that you wonder if he will grow out of the position but he certainly has the skills to play it now and he’s a pretty polished passer. DJ has been a known commodity since even before his freshman year (he received an SC offer last summer at Rising Stars Camp) but he will have to wait his turn this year behind Iowa State-commit Re-Al Mitchell, who led the team to a CIF and State title last season and who is coming back for his senior year in the fall. I don’t know how many opportunities DJ will get this year before taking over in 2018 but it speaks to the status of the Bosco program that he’s willing to wait for the opportunity to have two years as the starter.
Bryan Addison from Serra is continuing to have a strong performance on the spring passing circuit. With the Trojans bringing in a pair of taller safeties in the last class it’s easy to see why there would be interest in the 6-4 Addison, especially as he’s adding a bit of bulk to his frame. USC has offered Addison, and he is coached at Serra by Marvin Pollard, a former Trojan DB and father of current SC safety C.J. Pollard. It’s just one of many Trojan connections on this Serra team, from wide receiver John Jackson III (son of JJ), linebacker Justin Houston (brother of John), defensive back Deland McCullough (son of new RB coach) and quarterback Blaze McKibbin (son of former USC volleyball player Owen).
Corona Centennial does not lack for skill players and a pair of 2020 prospects to watch are slot receiver Gary Bryant and quarterback Shane Illingworth. Bryant will also play corner, he’s not big but he is real quick and shifty, while Illingworth has a classic 6-6, 225 frame but (like Uiagelelei) he is being forced to wait behind a talented senior in 6-6, 220 Tanner McKee, who is one of the top QB’s in the state this year.