The best time of the year is finally upon us.
With football season come hoodies, autumn leaves, tailgates, and Friday Night Lights.
High School football is one of the most popular sports in the country and for a good reason. The game is still somewhat pure at this level. The teenage kids that grace the field are in it solely for the love of the game. Covering high school football in the DMV, I was fortunate to interact with some future stars, Dwayne Haskins of the Washington Redskins, most notably.
Now I get to explore a new playground; Southern California. The CIF recently approved me as an accredited media member, giving me access to Southern California's brightest stars discovering the future of football.
California is one of the top three markets and recruiting grounds for top-level players, much larger than Maryland. Twenty-two players rank in ESPN's top 300. In 2016, 192 players were from California, second to 202 in Florida.
High School sports has always been the foundation of Fan-i Sports. In Baltimore, where talent often is overlooked, we were able to highlight some of the most significant moments in the last decade. Being able to work in California will not only allow us to grow with a new audience but bring our style of coverage to a broader market.
The Weekend, which is all about College and High School Football in the autumn months, will track the best games, players, and moments in the California football scene. To start you off, here are our games to in September.
Game of The Weekend
Centennial @ Mater Dei 8/23
The last time these two met, Mater Dei walked away with a 48-14 victory to advance to the CIF Southern Section finals. The Monarchs went into the locker room at halftime with an early 35-0 lead thanks to four interceptions. Elias Ricks (now plays for IMG) was the biggest performer with three Pick 6's. Bryce Young threw for two touchdowns, both to Bru McCoy. Centennial top player Gary Bryant finished with three catches 56 yards.
Both teams are ranked top ten in Max Preps California state rankings. The Monarchs are ranked third in USA Today's top preseason rankings behind St. Thomas Aquinas (FL) and North Shore (TX).
Sierra Canyon v. Lawndale @ Pierce College 8/30
Last time these two met, Lawndale won in the season opener 25-22. Jordan Wilmore rushed for 282 yards and three touchdowns. That sparked a 14-2 State Championship season for the Cardinals.
Sierra Canyon returns with a larger team and a tougher schedule. Canyon will be coming off of a game against another So-Cal power Westlake (loss 30-35 last year).
Canyon returns a three-headed monster in QB EJ Gable, WR DJ Harvey, and ATH JD Sumlin. All three combined for 4,166 yards and 36 TDs. Lawndale will have to replace Wilmore.
Serra @ Calabassas 9/6
Max Preps has both teams listed in their top ten toughest schedules in California.
The Serra Cavaliers went 5-6 a season ago but return with their leading passer, rusher, and receivers along with a bunch of other returnees.
Daily News has Calabasas ranked #1 in their LA Area preseason rankings. Oregon-commit, WR Johnny Wilson, is nationally ranked and a top-five player in the state of California according to ESPN. QB Jaden Casey finished with 38 touchdowns, ten going to Wilson.
Good Counsel (MD) @ St. Jon Bosco 9/13
Bosco comes into 2019 ranked #4 in the USA Today Super 25. Good Counsel will be the second Maryland school Bosco play this season. Bosco has the countries best QB in D.J Uiagalelei, currently committed to Clemson.
St. Frances (MD) @ Mater Dei 9/14
St. Frances has one of the hottest programs in football. Hailing out of Baltimore, Maryland, the Panthers are one of the best teams in the country, ranked #6 in USA Today's Super 25. After being kicked out of the MIAA, they're able to have a national schedule to play teams like Mater Dei.
The coaching staff coming from a former Baltimore powerhouse, Gilman, took that same recipe for success and used it to build Frances into a national power.
This will be the first meeting between the two schools, and it should be a good one.
Bishop Amat @ Cathedral 9/20
Last time these two met, Bishop Amat walked away with a 42-21 home victory. Amat was the Mission League champs a year finishing the year 9-2. They were without their star running back, Damien Moore, who missed the year with a knee injury. This year Moore is expected to be one of the best backs in the state of California.
Chad Johnson Jr. will be apart of the squad this year. The son of former NFL wide receiver, Chad Johnson, is a four-star receiver according to 247 Sports.
Upland @ Mission Viejo 9/27
Mission Viejo thumped Upland a year ago 41-7, thanks to a 20-point second quarter.
This year things should play out differently. Upland has the #1 player in the state of California, Justin Flowe. The blue-chip linebacker and his brother Johnathan Flowe (#3 OLB in CA) should give Upland's defense a significant boost.
Mission Viejo comes into the 2019 season ranked #10 in Max Preps state rankings. The Diablos bring in a couple of transfers, including QB Peter Costelli, who threw for 20 TDs at Santa Margarita.