High school football is football in its most pure form. Kids who grew up playing sports together throughout their entire life come together on the biggest stage in football, Friday Night Lights.
Kids who grew up as water boys are now donning shoulder pads and helmets ready to show their skills and pledge their allegiance to the school and its colors.
Or at least that’s how things used to be.
Southern California is seen as one of the premier recruiting spots in the country, often producing more than one team in The National Top 25 poll — one of them usually atop of the rankings — boasting high powered schools such as Mater Dei, St. John Bosco, Orange Lutheran and others.
Most of these teams are well represented with multiple four or even five-star athletes, making leagues like the Trinity League among the toughest in the entire country.
Last season the CIF-SS Division I bracket was ranked by Maxpreps.com as the second toughest bracket to win in the country.
Schools like Bosco and Mater Dei are deemed “pipeline schools” which makes them a must-stop for any college recruiter. Schools like this draw high interest from transfers due to their notability and major exposure to the college football blue bloods.
Schools are able to retain their dominance easier with transfers as they can easily replace a graduated high profile player.
In Mater Dei’s case it was not going to be easy with the greatest quarterback and wide receiver tandem in county history. Quarterback J.T. Daniels and wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown departed for starting roles at the University of Southern California.
Thankfully for the Monarchs, five-star quarterback Bryce Young transferred to Mater Dei from Cathedral High School in Los Angeles and two-way stars Jeremiah Criddell and Sean Dollars joined Mater Dei from Rancho Cucamonga High School which helped fill the enormous gap that was left after losing Daniels and St. Brown.
The CIF-SS Division I bracket is making it more difficult for schools to keep up with the high level of opponent play.
Legendary Coach Bob Johnson of Mission Viejo High School was not a fan of the division changes in 2016 once stating, “our students have to live within our attendance boundaries. That does not go hand in hand with most of the teams were going to be playing against in the playoffs.”
Hometown programs are losing their young rising stars to schools further away for often no reason other than athletics. With transfer numbers only increasing by the year, it seems high school football will soon be taking the free agency route, damaging what makes the game so special.