There are two strong favorites in the L.A. City to start the season — Narbonne in Division I and Hawkins in Division II — and both schools have five players on this year’s preseason all-section team. Most of the Gauchos’ strength will be on defense while most of the Hawks’ will be on offense. Los Angeles, Franklin of Los Angeles and San Pedro also are among six schools with multiple selections.
RELATED Preseason Teams: Sac-Joaquin Section| Central Section | San Diego Section
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Our next series of preseason all-section/area teams is the CIF L.A. City Section, which has expanded in the last 20 years from 49 high schools to 142 as part of the largest school district (Los Angeles Unified) expansion in the country.
Even though the talent is spread thin at some schools (there is less D1-bound talent than there was with 49 programs in the 1980s), under the CIF’s new bowl game system, all section champions get a crack at a bowl game. In the first year of the new bowl system, D3 champ L.A. Belmont was blanked 14-0 by Coronado in the Division VI-AA playoffs and D2 champ L.A. Fairfax lost to Chowchilla, 28-16, in Division IV-A.
Meanwhile, Narbonne of Harbor City went on to become the section’s first state CIF champion champion by defeating Clayton Valley of Concord, 28-14, to win the Division I-A bowl game. Narbonne finished the season ranked No. 8 in the state and was the only team in the section anywhere near Top 20 state ranked.
Under veteran coach Manuel Douglas, that again may be the case in 2016, as Narbonne looks to win its fourth D1 section title in five years. The Gauchos are the front-runners with 11 returning starters, including a stout front seven on the defensive side of the ball, and may get its stiffest competition from Marine League foe San Pedro and traditional Coliseum League powers L.A. Crenshaw and L.A. Dorsey. D1 programs El Camino Real of Woodland Hills and Arleta are likely the top clubs from the schools in the San Fernando Valley region of the section.
L.A. Hawkins is building under the guidance of young coach Mil’Von James, a 2003 graduate of L.A. Fremont who played college football at UCLA and UNLV. According to James, the Hawks return all 22 starters and are the early-front-runners to claim the L.A. City Section Division II title.
Last season, Los Angeles High won the Coliseum League title by a game over Hawkins before losing to the Lions in the section D2 title game. The Romans, who are coached by former Crenshaw and UCLA standout wide receiver Eric Scott and have a proud tradition of Super Bowl alumni despite some lean seasons in the 1980s and 1990s, battled Hawkins in a memorable regular season finale in 2015. The new rivals fought to a 31-31 tie after the Hawks scored three late touchdowns and three two-point conversions to erase a 31-7 deficit before the game was called because of darkness. It was the last game of the season for Hawkins because of sanctions for using an ineligible player in the 2014 playoffs.
Los Angeles High suffered a setback when D2 Offensive Player of the Year Kaymen Cureton transferred to Leuzinger of Lawndale in the off-season. He passed for a section-leading 3,787 yards as a junior. In fact, the QB with the second most passing yards (2,730) among returnees, Tyger Goslin of Chatsworth, also left the L.A City. He transferred to Moorpark High.
WR — Joseph Lewis (Hawkins, Los Angeles) 6-2, 204, Sr.
Repeat selection hauled in 51 receptions for 852 yards with 8 TDs (in 10 games) and is the top-rated wideout in the recent 2017 Cal-Hi Sports Hot 100 rankings.
WR — Guillermo Cordova (Franklin, Los Angeles) 5-9, 165, Sr.
A short passing game and incredible work ethic helped Cordova finish No. 2 in the state in receptions (113) good for 1,265 yards and 9 TDs.
WR — Jalen Hall (Hawkins, Los Angeles) 6-3, 185, Jr.
He’s been on this team once already and is considered the top junior wide receiver prospect in the country and checks in at No. 4 in our latest 2018 Hot 100 after posting 60 receptions for 1,010 yards and 9 TDs last season.
OL — Nick Ford (San Pedro) 6-6, 270, Sr.
Long-time coach Mike Walsh retired in the off-season and Ford is new coach Corey Miller’s top college prospect.
OL — Shammah Tupua (Narbonne, Harbor City) 6-3, 325, Sr.
he made third team all-state underclass for Division I-A state champs.
OL — Martin Andrus (Los Angeles)
6-2, 280, Sr.
This repeat selection was section D2 defensive player of the year and is a major college prospect along the D-Line (No. 24 in Hot 100), but fits best on this team here.
OL — Boe Tufele (Narbonne, Harbor City) 6-3, 290, Sr.
Part of the Gauchos’ awesome defensive front, his size dictates he makes the team here, plus Narbonne could use the help as four starters were lost up front.
OL — Ashamad Pinchem (Los Angeles) 6-4, 260, Sr.
The Romans are big and strong up front like a top CIF Southern Section team with Pinchem and Russell Kim (6-3, 280) both earning all-city honors last season.
QB — Mario Bobadilla (Franklin, Los Angeles) 6-0, 170, Sr.
With Cureton and Goslin no longer in the section, we turn to a returning first team D3 all-city choice from a program with a strong tradition of signal-callers who passed for 2,568 yards and 27 touchdowns versus 9 interceptions last season.
RB — Greg Johnson (Hawkins, Los Angeles) 5-10, 185, Sr.
Arizona commit recruited as an athlete (can play wideout or defensive back) returns after averaging 13.3 ypc and scoring 11 touchdowns (83 carries, 1,108 yards) for a 8-1-1 team while earning first team all-state underclass honors.
RB — Ladell Atkins (El Camino Real, Woodland Hills) 5-8, 175, Sr.
City’s top returning ground gainer churned out 1,460 yards on only 114 carries (12.8 ypc) while scoring 15 touchdowns and earning first team D1 all-city honors.
K — Daniel Gutierrez (Granada Hills) 5-10, 175, Sr.
Repeat selection was chosen first team D2 all-city after leading the reported section leaders with eight field goals, including a long of 54.
DL — Gregory Jordan (Dorsey, Los Angeles) 6-1, 230, Sr.
The Dons are looking to challenge Hawkins, L.A. High and Crenshaw in the Coliseum League and will need a big season from Jordan, who fields an offer from Nevada, to do just that.
DL — Dominic Peterson (Narbonne, Harbor City) 6-2, 265, Sr.
Returning first team D1 all-city talent teams with Anthony Pandy to give the Gauchos one of the stingiest run defenses in the state as the entire front seven returns.
DL — Anthony Pandy (Narbonne, Harbor City) 6-1, 220, Sr.
Returning D1 all-city defensive lineman of the year and second team all-state underclass choice spearheads Gauchos’ front four and is a major college prospect.
LB — Alexis Cortez (Jefferson, Los Angeles) 6-2, 210, Sr.
He has ability as a tight end, but his nose for ball-carriers is top-notch after collecting 75 tackles, 46 assists and three sacks to earn first team D2 all-city honors.
LB — Halid Djibril (West Adams, Los Angeles) 6-1, 160, Jr.
he was the D3 defensive player of the year as a tenth-grader after racking up 101 solos, assisting on 50 other plays, to go along with four caused fumbles, two sacks and two interceptions.
LB — Raymond Scott (Narbonne, Harbor City) 6-2, 220, Jr.
One of the best junior ‘backers in the nation and already committed to USC, Scott spearheads the Gauchos’ backer core after earning first team D1 all-city honors as a tenth-grader.
LB — Edward Jackson (Belmont, Los Angeles) 5-8, 150, Jr.
Although lacking the size of a college-bound LB, there is no questioning Jackson’s ability for the defending D3 section champs after racking up 65 primos (including 11 for loss) and assisting on 70 other tackles as Belmont won its first-ever football title.
DB — Tyjai Fulford (El Camino Real, Woodland Hills) 5-9, 165, Jr.
Sleeper pick who cracked the Cal-Hi Sports Hot 100 for juniors (No. 94) could be primed for a big season after earning second team D1 all-city honors as a sophomore.
DB — Eric Gaona (Grant, Van Nuys) 5-9, 160, Sr.
Second team D2 all-city selection had four interceptions and his overall ability (376 receiving yards, 4 TDs) helped him get the nod here.
DB — Antwone Williams (Dorsey, Los Angeles) 5-8, 165, Sr.
Lone returning first team D1 all-city defensive back with college offers will also share the ball-carrying duties for the Dons with sophomore Charles Mincy Jr., the son of the head coach and a former Dons player.
DB — Chris Lewis (Canoga Park) 6-2, 180, Sr.
He missed some games last year, but has the ideal size and skill to garner serious D1 interest with a strong start to his senior season.
P — Quinn Perry (Palisades, Pacific Palisades) 6-2, 225, Sr.
Returning D1 all-city selection (who contributes heavily on defense for the Dolphins) led the section with a 41.9 average and had nine land inside the 20-yard line.
WR/DB — Raymond Geha (San Pedro)
5-9, 165, Sr.
We were tempted to go with one of the super sophs — Dorsey’s Charles Mincy Jr. and Kevon Thibodeaux or Arleta’s E.J. Gable, but Geha’s production (428 receiving yards, 7 TDs, 48 tackles) was too much to pass up.
RB/LB — Joe Villarreal (Banning, Wilmington) 5-9, 180, Sr.
Returning D1 all-city second teamer seems poised for a big senior campaign as a runner with plenty of ability on the defensive side of the ball.
RB/WR — Tremar Holiness (South Gate) 5-8, 170, Sr.
He can run or catch equally well since this returning second team D1 all-city performer scored 19 touchdowns, including four receiving on 23 receptions, while he averaged 12.3 ypc and rushing for 1,061 yards.
QB/ATH — Dylan Lemle (Hawkins, Los Angeles) 6-1, 170, Sr.
Excellent athlete who can run and punt threw for 2,404 yards and 26 touchdowns as a junior and those numbers should skyrocket with all the returning talent and the Hawks getting in the post-season.
DB/KR/P — Aashari Crosswell (Hawkins, Los Angeles) 6-1, 185, Jr.
One of the state’s top junior prospects (ranked No. 19 in our 2018 Hot 100), Crosswell can return kicks and punts and make big plays on defense, as evidenced by his four interceptions and four fumble recoveries from last year.
RB/DB — Jamarr Graves (Jefferson, Los Angeles) 5-8, 185, Sr.
He scored 24 touchdowns (tops among city returnees) while rushing for 1,370 yards last season and also rackied up 40 solo tackles and assisted on 20 others from his defensive back position.
Note: These preseason all-section teams are done in the same 30-player format as the annual Cal-Hi Sports All-State Football Teams. They are based on a combination of what the players did last season and college recruiting. Not every all-section team will have writeups of every player. Some will have an intro, then lists.