As L.A. City section programs look to recover from the fallout of COVID-19, the talent among the skill positions is recovering nicely, although the trench talent still has a long way to go to match the level of a generation ago. The participation numbers also are up after 16 section programs didn’t field a team in 2020 and there are a handful of players heading to D1 programs, including Utah-bound running back Dijon Staley of Granada Hills. Section open title favorites include two-time defending champ Birmingham of Lake Balboa and Marine league powers San Pedro and Banning of Wilmington.
Note: These preseason all-section or all-area 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 spring and college recruiting. Transfers may not be included if not reported yet, haven’t played for a new school yet, or info on a transfer from previous school isn’t available. Not every all-section team will have writeups of every player. Some will have an intro, then lists.
STATEWIDE LINEUP OF THESE PRESEASON TEAMS
(ALL TO BE DONE BY NEXT THURSDAY):
San Diego Section | CIFSS Inland Empire | CIF Central Section | CIFSS SGV Valley | CIF NCS East Bay | CIF NCS Redwood Empire | CIF Sac-Joaquin Section | CIF Central Coast Section | CIFSS Long Beach/South Bay | CIFSS San Fernando Valley/Ventura | CIF Northern Section | CIF/SS Orange County
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The 2021 season was a reset of sorts for football in the CIF L.A. City Section, as teams returned to a sense of normalcy after 16 of the section’s programs did not participate in the spring 2020 season. That number, of course, doesn’t include the programs that managed to play only one game.
In last season’s open division title game, Birmingham defeated San Pedro, 24-14, behind the play of City Player of the Year Arlis Boardingham. With no playoffs during the 2020 spring season, it was the Patriots’ second consecutive open title after defeating Banning of Wilmington, 27-20, in the 2019 open title game.
In 2019 before the pandemic began, Narbonne of Harbor City opened up at No. 5 in the state rankings before the program was banned for the L.A. City Section playoffs to effectively end its dynasty under former coach Manuel Douglas. Last season, Birmingham and San Pedro were two of the preseason favorites (along with eventual D1 champ Venice) and this season the race for the open championship is wide open as there is no dominant program like Narbonne was through the late 2000s and 2010s. Birmingham rates as a good bet to make another serious run at the open title with the winner of the Marine League looking like the other favorite. That will likely be 2021 finalist San Pedro or Banning, a semifinalist last season.