SoCal club football league organized by Winner Circle Athletics aims to play in Arizona starting Dec. 28

A Southern California club football league at the center of discussion among high school coaches and administrators plans to begin later this month in Bullhead City, Ariz., organizer Jordan Campbell of Winner Circle Athletics in Corona said Saturday, Dec. 19.

Campbell, who owns the Winner Circle Athletics’ training and wellness center, said the league’s Elite 10 will play a showcase Dec. 28-29 and continue with games Jan. 8, Jan. 22 and Feb. 15. Most dates pair 10 teams in five games.

The league’s plans arrive as the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) recently released guidelines that will allow high school and youth sports to begin competition as early as Jan. 25, if they can meet certain health conditions.

The CDPH announced on Dec. 14 that football, for example, can be played in a county that has cleared regional, stay-at-home orders and has reached the orange tier (moderate risk) in the state’s COVID-19 monitoring system. Nearly all of the 58 counties in the state are in the purple tier (widespread risk) as cases have spiked in recent weeks.

The updated guidelines have cast doubt about whether the high school football season can be played, especially in hard-hit Southern California.

High school football is a fall sport that was scheduled to start Jan. 7 and could be played as late as April 17, CIF Southern Section commissioner Rob Wigod said.

The CIF State has canceled its regional and state playoffs to allow as much time as possible to schedule games. The Southern Section has indicated it could make a similar move.

State executive director Ron Nocetti also has said that the federation will advocate for football and others sports in the orange and yellow tiers to placed in tiers that will allow competition sooner.

Moving football to the spring season, officials say, isn’t a viable option because of safety reasons related to the proximity to the fall of ’21 season.

Youth sports teams from Southern California began traveling to Arizona and other places to compete after California prohibited competition on Aug. 3. High school and youth sports were limited to physical conditioning and skill development in an effort to curb the spread of the virus.

The rise of club football has been a new trend for high schools, raising questions about rules and participation. Because of the pandemic, CIF State adjusted its rules for this school year to allow athletes to compete in club sports at the same time as high school athletics.

Mater Dei High football coach Bruce Rollinson recently said that he will encourage his players to hold off playing club and to wait for the high school season.

“What I tell them is ‘Hold tight fellas. Lets stay together because I truly believe there is going to be a season,’ ” Rollinson said. “Our preference is to play CIF football. … If a parent wants to meet with me (about club), and decide, I’ll cross that bridge when I get there. Ultimately, the parent is the provider. The parent ultimately makes the decision.”

Rollinson said the subject of forming a Mater Dei club team if the high school season were canceled has come up but those discussions have been preliminary.

“I’d look into it in a heartbeat if it got my team on the field but I think there will be other solutions to get us on the field of play,” he said. “I just say my prayers every night that they get to play together and we have a season.”

Campbell, who played at Norco High before moving on to USC and the NFL, has advice for players whose high school coaches ask them not to play the club league. “Listen to your high school coach and keep your high school program first,” he said.

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CIF-SS and state officials get a lot of questions about new guidelines for high school sports

The CIF Southern Section will be releasing new information to its schools on Wednesday morning, Dec. 16 that is supposed to address some of the questions that came up one day after the state rolled out its new health guidelines for youth and high school sports.

In somewhat of a surprising move, the California Department of Public Health issued its new  guidelines on Monday evening, which were seen as a mix of good news, bad news and unanswered questions by those most deeply involved in high school sports — the coaches, athletes and parents of athletes.

The most prominent question: Does this mean there will be high school sports this school year?

Gov. Gavin Newsom took a shot at answering that question Tuesday during a news conference.

“The virus will make that determination,” Newsom said, “(through) our actions, each and every individual action, the sum total of which will determine how quickly that will occur.”

In other words, the state and each county need to see a drop in their number of coronavirus cases, showing they are getting the COVID-19 pandemic under control, for the green light to go on for high school sports.

If the COVID-19 numbers stay where they’re at, maybe a handful of sports — those that don’t involve contact, such as cross country, golf, swimming, tennis and track and field — will be the only ones cleared to have a season this school year.

The new guidelines use the state’s color-coded system for a county’s COVID-19 transmission risk to determine when a sport can begin in that county. For example, Orange County would need to be in the orange tier (moderate risk of COVID-19 spread) for football and volleyball to begin their seasons.

For now, all sports in the state are on hold until Jan. 25, although conditioning workouts are still allowed. The CDPH also said it will take a look at the state’s progress toward controlling the virus on Jan. 4, and the start date could be changed, perhaps to an earlier date.

The guidelines are comprehensive (they apply to all youth sports, including club teams), and include details about practice routines and fan attendance, which vary from sport to sport.

But all of that detail led to more questions, so CIF commissioner Ron Nocetti and the commissioners of the state’s 10 sections went through the guidelines thoroughly in a teleconference Tuesday, Nocetti said, so that they could provide guidance to their member schools.

“Now I think the sections are looking at that information and putting together information to share with their member schools,” Nocetti said. “They’ll start to have conversations with their leadership about what this means for their sections moving forward.”

The CIF-SS said it will release new information to its member schools at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, but did not offer any details.

Most likely, it won’t be anything that greatly changes what is already in place.

“There were questions about things we could look at in the future,” Nocetti said of Tuesday’s discussion. “But everyone is going to proceed pretty cautiously because it says clearly in the guidance that they’re going to reassess the start date on Jan. 4.

“People are a little hesitant to do things until we see if that Jan. 25 date is going to hold.”

There was a great deal of discussion on Twitter on Tuesday about changing the sports calendar as a way to improve the chances for some sports to have a season.

Sports such as football, volleyball and water polo are in the second-most difficult tier to reach — orange — and those are all sports that are supposed to be having their seasons right now.

If the sports calendar was changed and the start dates for those sports were pushed back 2-3 months, it would give them more time to possibly reach the tier they need to be in. Right now, all of the area counties — Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino — are in the purple tier (widespread risk).

Nocetti and CIF-SS commissioner Rob Wigod have both insisted that it’s unlikely the football calendar will be changed again this year. They have cited the recommendations of health officials that football should not go beyond mid-April this school year if there are plans to begin next school year’s season in August.

The change that is more likely to happen throughout the state: The season for many sports will be shortened, with a later start date, which allows for more time to get the virus under control, and the emphasis would be on league games and perhaps a brief postseason that does not include regional or state championships.

The sports that appear to be most in danger of not having a season are in the yellow tier (minimal risk), as it is the most difficult tier to reach. Those sports are cheerleading (indoors), basketball, hockey and wrestling. (Basketball and hockey move to the orange tier if they are played outdoors, but that is usually not done at the high school level.)

Newsom insisted that he wants to see high school sports return this school year, and that state officials are committed to finding a safe way to bring them back as soon as possible.

“I’m reverential in terms of my desire (for sports to return),” he said, “for kids’ mental and physical health, for parents’ mental and physical health, to get kids playing sports again in a safe manner. So we’ve been stubborn, we’ve been working on this, lot of work behind the scenes on this.”

– BANG reporters Darren Sabedra, Michael Nowels and Nico Savidge contributed to this report. 

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Still time to save football season in Orange County, but COVID-19 has a big lead

Orange County high school football fans should keep these dates in mind as they try to figure out if there will be a season this year: April 16-17.

That will probably be the final weekend for any football games to be played this season — if there is a season.

And that is about the only certainty there is at this point.

CIF Southern Section commissioner Rob Wigod has said many times in recent weeks that there will not be another revision of the high school sports calendar, regardless of the circumstances.

So based on the formula of starting at the end and working forward, how late could the CIF-SS actually start the football season?

It has been pushed back a few times already — from August to early January to … a date that is still to be determined by the California Department of Publich Health, which on Monday said football and all of the other sports will be on hold until at least Jan. 25.

Wigod laid out a potential scenario for a last-gasp start date during a Q&A with student-athletes last week. He said practices could begin as late as Feb. 15 — roughly 10 weeks from now — and teams would play 6-7 games, which allows for a league season and perhaps some type of postseason that might involve bowl games. There will not be regional or state championships this season for football, so the final two weekends of the season (April 9-10 and 16-17) are open for the CIF-SS to use for regular season or postseason games.

Can Orange County make it from the purple tier, where it is now for widepread risk of COVID-19 spread, to where it needs to be — orange tier (moderate risk of spread) — in those 10 weeks and get the green light to begin?

Answer: It’s a longshot, or maybe we should call it a very long Hail Mary.

Orange County needs to be in the orange tier, where the positivity rate for COVID-19 over the past week is 2.0–4.9%, in order to be cleared to begin holding full practices and play games.

The county’s positivity rate on Monday? 12.6%

Clearly this requires a Hail Mary of epic proportions — something equal to what Kirk Gibson did for the Dodgers in the 1988 World Series, or what the U.S. hockey team did to the Russians in 1980. (Check it out on YouTube, youngsters.)

You say it can’t be done? Well, Orange County was in the red tier (moderate risk of spread) back in mid-November, right before Gov. Gavin Newsom placed O.C. and a bunch of other counties in the purple tier — the most restrictive tier — because the state was moving backwards in its efforts to control COVID-19.

So one month ago: red tier.

Does that mean O.C. could move forward two tiers — from purple to orange — in the next 70 days or so and save the football season?

It’s not looking good based on recent trends. Numbers went way up after Thanksgiving week. Will that happen again this month as families and friends are likely to gather to celebrate the December holidays and events?

Put that on the negative side of the ledger.

On the positive side, maybe people don’t gather as much and follow the stay-at-home orders, the vaccine starts to play a role and maybe the youth sports guidelines are changed again. (It could happen.)

Things could go right, and the football season is saved. It’s not an impossible situation, but there are only a few possible ways to make it happen.

The clock is counting down to April 16-17, and every day will help — or hurt — the chances of there being a football season.

Will it be the amazing comeback that football coaches, players and fans want to see? Or will it be a devastating setback — an entire season lost to the virus — that didn’t seem possible back in March, when the pandemic started.

We’re going to find out in these next several weeks, but clearly this is make-or-break time.

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Mater Dei offensive lineman Ross Maseuli commits to San Diego State

San Diego State’s recruiting class for 2021 has added another Trinity League football standout.

Mater Dei High offensive lineman Ross Maseuli committed on Wednesday, Dec. 2 to the Aztecs, giving the Mountain West Conference program three recruits with Trinity League ties.

All Glory 2 God!!! Please respect my decision🙏🏽🙏🏽🔴⚪⚫pic.twitter.com/zI9ZaBp59B

— Ross Maseuli (@RossMaseuli) December 2, 2020

Maseuli joins a recruiting class that includes Servite defensive back Noah Avinger and former JSerra safety New Zealand Williams, now at St. Bernard in Playa Del Rey.

San Diego State has 20 commits from the class of 2021 and ranks second in the Mountain West Conference to Boise State, according to 247sports.

Maseuli (6-3, 350) spent last season at JSerra but didn’t play because his transfer from Cathedral Catholic in San Diego wasn’t cleared by the Southern Section.

He also was offered by Alabama, Arizona and Fresno State among others.

The early signing period for football is Dec. 16.

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Mission Viejo’s Ryder Fitch, Mater Dei’s Marceese Yetts commit to Air Force


Mater Dei Monarchs running back Marceese Yetts (5) runs for yards against the St. John Bosco Braves during the first half of the 2019 CIF Southern Section Division 1 High School Football Championship game at Cerritos College in Norwalk, Calif. on Saturday November 30, 2019. (Photo by Raul Romero Jr, Contributing Photographer)

Mission Viejo High and Mater Dei might be Division 1 rivals in football but the programs will have something in common if they clash again in the playoffs in 2021.

Cornerback Ryder Fitch of Mission Viejo and running back Marceese Yetts of Mater Dei have recently committed to Air Force.

Fitch (5-11, 175) earned second-team All-South Coast League honors last season.

He is the second Mission Viejo defensive back to commit to Air Force in recent years, joining former teammate Deavyn Woullard, now at UCLA.

“I picked (Air Force) because of the opportunities after the academy and how it sets you up for life,” Fitch said. “I also had a good relationship with the coaches and took my own visit to the campus. I feel like it’s a good fit for me.”

The speedy Yetts (5-8, 175) was a second-team All-Trinity League selection last season. He led the Monarchs in rushing with 578 yards, added 12 catches for 121 yards and returned kicks.

Yetts highlighted his 2019 campaign by rushing for 96 yards on 13 carries against St. John Bosco in the Trinity League.

He said Air Force recruited him as an all-purpose back.

Yetts plans to major engineering.

Air Force’s roster includes former Pacifica quarterback Ben Jefferson, now a wide receiver, punter Charles Bein (San Clemente) and defensive end Chris Kane (San Clemente).

Please send football recruiting news to Dan Albano at dalbano@scng.com or @ocvarsityguy on Twitter or Instagram

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Top committed Orange County, Trinity League football recruits, Nov. 9

The top committed Orange County and Trinity League football recruits from the Class of 2021 as of Monday, Nov. 9, 2020:

Name, School, Position, Height, Weight, College

Anton Ambuehl, St. John Bosco, OL, 6-6, 280,UNLV

Mavin Anderson, Mission Viejo, WR, 6-0, 190, Cal

Noah Avinger, Servite, CB, 5-11, 165, San Diego State

Cole Batson, San Clemente, S, 6-4, 190, Boston College

Kamren Blanton, St. John Bosco, CB, 5-11, 175, UNLV

James Bohls, San Clemente, LB, 6-3, 210, Arizona

Thomas Bouda, Corona del Mar, OL, 6-4, 250, Army

Malik Brooks, Los Alamitos, RB, 6-2, 205, Fresno State

Noah Chase, Orange Lutheran, S, 5-9, 160, Kenyon College

Beaux Collins, St. John Bosco, WR, 6-3, 195, Clemson

Peter Costelli, Mission Viejo, QB, 6-3, 200, Utah

Jaylin Davies, Mater Dei, CB, 6-1, 175, Oregon

Raesjon Davis, Mater Dei, OLB, 6-1, 215, LSU

Cristian Dixon, Mater Dei, WR, 6-2, 190, Michigan

Nicholas Fryhoff, Foothill, DE, 6-5, 235, Penn

Maximus Gibbs, St. John Bosco, OL, 6-6, 385, USC

Scott Giuliano, Corona del Mar, TE, 6-5, 225, Harvard

Sammy Green, Huntington Beach, RB, 5-9, 180, UNLV

Tommy Griffin, Corona del Mar, DB, 6-2 185, Cal Poly SLO

JT Hand, Mission Viejo, C, 6-3, 295, Arizona

Maurice Heims, Santa Margarita, DE, 6-6, 240, Washington

Carson Irons, Sunny Hills, LB, 6-0, 200, Princeton

Jack Kosick, Edison, WR/DB, 6-0, 170, Penn

Mitch Leigber, Laguna Hills, S, 6-1, 200, Stanford

Ashton Logan, Orange Lutheran, P, 6-2, 185, Colorado

Caleb Manson, El Modena, DE, 6-4, 225, Nevada

Easton Mascarenas, Mission Viejo, LB, 6-0, 200, Oregon State

Shancco Matautia, Servite, 6-3 320, OL, Idaho State

George Miki-Han, Mater Dei, C, 6-1, 300, Colorado State

Mason Murphy, JSerra, OL, 6-5, 287, USC

Tyler Narayan, Mater Dei, DL, 6-1, 255, Navy

Nick Ostlund, St. Margaret’s, DL, 6-3, 260, Penn

Jake Parsons, Edison, OL, 6-4, 285, UC Davis

Tj Patu, La Habra, OLB, 6-4, 190, Colorado

Faaeanuu Pepe, Orange Lutheran, OL, 6-5, 320, Rice

Mason Randolph, Yorba Linda, OL, 6-4, 210, Boise State

Bentley Redden, San Clemente, TE, 6-5, 220, BYU

RJ Regan, Orange Lutheran, CB, 6-1, 170, Arizona State

Andrew Simpson, St. John Bosco, LB, 6-1, 225, Kansas

Jake Trachtman, Corona del Mar, OL, 6-7, 295, Cal Poly SLO

Kyron Ware-Hudson, Mater Dei, WR, 6-2, 205, Oregon

Jason White, Orange Lutheran, OL, 6-5, 295, Boise State

Derek Wilkins, Santa Margarita, DE, 6-5, 240, Cal

Please send updates and football recruiting news to Dan Albano at dalbano@scng.com or @ocvarsityguy on Twitter and Instagram

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High school schedules: St. Margaret’s football

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ST. MARGARET’S  

Coach: Kory Minor

League: San Joaquin

(Schedules subject to change)

Jan. 8 at Yucca Valley, 7 p.m.

Jan. 15 vs. La Mirada at Excelsior High (Norwalk), 7 p.m.

Jan. 22 at Rim of the World, 7 p.m.

Jan. 29 vs. El Toro, 7 p.m.

Feb. 5 at Garces Memorial (Bakersfield), 7 p.m.

Feb. 12 vs. Webb*, 7 p.m.

Feb. 18 at Southlands Christian* (Rowland Heights), 7 p.m.

Feb. 26 vs. Rancho Christian* (Temecula), 7 p.m.

March 5 vs. Capistrano Valley Christian*, 7 p.m.

March 12 vs. Fairmont Prep* (H) at TBD, 7 p.m.

*League game

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High school schedules: Fairmont Prep football

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FAIRMONT PREP  

Coach: Fred Romo

League: San Joaquin

(Schedules subject to change)

Jan. 8 at Mary Star (San Pedro), 7 p.m.

Jan. 15 at Ontario Christian, 7 p.m.

Jan. 30 vs. Cantwell-Sacred Heart at Yorba Linda HS, 7 p.m.

Feb. 5 vs. Arrowhead Christian at Yorba Linda HS, 7 p.m.

Feb. 11 vs. Santa Clarita Christian at Yorba Linda HS, 7 p.m.

Feb. 19 vs. Capistrano Valley Christian* at JSerra HS, 7 p.m.

Feb. 26 at Southlands Christian* (Rowland Heights), 7 p.m.

March 6 at Webb* (Claremont), 1 p.m.

March 12 vs. St. Margaret’s* at TBD, 7 p.m.

*League game

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High school schedules: Anaheim football

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ANAHEIM 

Coach: Lanny Booher

League: Orange

(Schedules subject to change)

Jan. 15 vs. Rancho Alamitos at Garden Grove HS, 7 p.m.

Jan. 21 at Westminster, 7 p.m.

Jan. 29 vs.Loara at Glover Stadium, 7 p.m.

Feb. 4 vs. Santiago at Garden Grove HS, 7 p.m.

Feb. 12 at Century*, 7 p.m.

Feb. 19 vs. Magnolia* at Glover Stadium, 7 p.m.

Feb. 27 at Western,  7 p.m.

March 6 vs. Savanna* at Glover Stadium, 1 p.m.

March 12 vs. Santa Ana Valley* at Glover Stadium, 7 p.m.

*League game

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High school schedules: Century football

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CENTURY 

Coach: Dave Perkins

League: Orange

(Schedules subject to change)

Jan. 8 vs. Saddleback, 7 p.m.

Jan. 15 at Azusa, 7 p.m.

Jan. 21 at University, 7 p.m.

Jan. 29 vs.Mountain View, 7 p.m.

Feb. 5 vs. La Quinta, 7 p.m.

Feb. 12 vs. Anaheim*, 7 p.m.

Feb. 19 at Santa Ana Valley*, 7 p.m.

Feb. 26 vss. Savanna* at Glover Field,  7 p.m.

March 6 vs. Magnolia* at Western HS, noon

March 12 vs. Western*, 7 p.m.

*League game

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