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FILE: KYUSUNG GONG, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Scenes like this one will happen across the county over the next two weeks. Teams can start to hold official practices for the 2015 season on Aug. 3 or Aug. 10, depending on the date of their season opener.

Fryer: Intro to O.C. Football 2015

STAFF WRITER

It’s high school football season.

Already.

All ready?

The first day of “fall practice,” as it’s called by the CIF-Southern Section, is Monday for teams that play Week 0 games. The first day of fall practice for teams that start the season in Week 1 is Aug. 10.

In recent years, a football team was allowed 25 “practice opportunities” between the end of the mandatory three-week “dead period” and the team’s first game. Coaches had to formulate a schedule, working backwards from the first game while figuring out which teacher in-service days counted as one-half of those 25 practice opportunities.

That’s been simplified this season. Teams that play their first game in Week 0 are allowed to start Aug. 3 (Monday). Teams that open their season in Week 1 can start practice Aug. 10.

Edison coach Dave White, going into his 30th season coaching the Chargers, likes the easier-to-implement format. But the format was not official until late April when it was approved by the CIF-SS Council, the section’s rules-making, rules-changing body.

Kids and coaches already had summer vacation plans in place.

“Some of my coaches aren’t here,” White said. “We originally were going to start on the 10th (of August), then they said we could start the 3rd, so we compromised and we’re starting on the 6th (Thursday). We’d already told parents, boosters and everybody else that we were starting on the 10th, but pushing it to the 6th is fine.”

Anyway, with high school football having become a year-round program, it’s not like Edison or other teams are in start-over mode.

“The passing league stuff has gotten crazy,” said White of the 7-on-7 passing leagues and tournaments that fill the June and July football calendars. “Spring now goes into summer and summer now goes into fall.”

If you’re a football parent who wants to tell a coach like White that it’s become too crazy, White will give you a “Hey, you’re telling me” reply. His son Garrett is a three-sport senior, and a starting receiver, at Edison.

And about these “fall practices:” Teams can practice no more than 18 hours a week, and no more than four hours a day. Two-a-day practice sessions cannot happen two days in a row and there must be at least a three-hour break between practices of two-a-days. Weight training, film study sessions and other coach-organized activities intended to maintain or improve a player’s skill level count as part of practice.

To get you up to speed with Orange County football, here is an introduction to the 2015 season:

Defending champs: Four Orange County teams won CIF-Southern Section championships last season. Mission Viejo won it all in its first year in the CIF-SS West Valley Division; Trabuco Hills won the Southwest Division title; Garden Grove won the Southern Division (and outscored its four playoff opponents by a cumulative score of 135-18); and St. Margaret’s won the East Valley crown.

College prospects: As usual, county football has a bunch of them. The OC Varsity top five county prospects, in order, are Santa Margarita QB KJ Costello (committed to Stanford); Santa Margarita WR Dylan Crawford (uncommitted); Mater Dei LB Curtis Robinson (committed to Stanford); Mater Dei OL Frank Martin (committed to USC), and Tesoro QB Devon Modster (committed to Arizona).

Transfers: As usual, county football has a bunch them. Among the most notable going into the season are Crawford (from St. Francis of La Canada to Santa Margarita); Elijah Bynum (RB/KR, from Orange Lutheran to Buena Park); Jeremiah Hawkins (WR, from Yorba Linda to Buena Park); Sam Loy (K/P, from San Clemente to Santa Margarita); and Osiris St. Brown (WR, from Servite to Mater Dei).

Who’s first?: Mission Viejo plays its season opener on Aug. 21, one week before others play season openers on Week 0 and two weeks before more open the season in Week 1. Mission Viejo is going to Hawaii to play Baldwin of Wailuki on Aug. 21.

Best Week 0 games: Aug. 28 is a strong first Friday. Among the better-looking matchups are Edison at Tesoro (both could be in our preseason top 10); La Habra at El Toro; San Clemente at San Juan Hills; and Bishop Amat vs. Mater Dei at Santa Ana Stadium.

The playoffs: CIF-SS playoff games start with the first round on Nov. 13 and continue through the section championship games Dec. 4 and 5. Generally, CIF-SS football finals in the elite Pac-5 Division and one or two other divisions are at Angel Stadium. CIF-SS and Angel Stadium representatives were unable to reach agreement on having the section baseball finals there this past spring, so we shall see what happens with the football finals this fall.

Playoff groupings: In football, all of a league’s playoff teams play in the same playoff division. Orange County teams will play in the East Valley Division (Academy and San Joaquin leagues); the Pac-5 Division (Trinity League); Southern Division (Garden Grove, Golden West, North Hills, Orange and Orange Coast leagues); Southwest Division (Crestview, Empire, Freeway, Pacific Coast, Sea View leagues); and West Valley Division (South Coast and Sunset leagues). Whittier Christian plays in the Olympic League, which is in the Northwest Division. This is the last of two seasons with these playoff groupings. Groupings for the 2016 and ’17 seasons will be formed during the coming school year.

More playoffs: Don’t forget about the CIF State football postseason. Regionals games are Dec. 11 and 12. CIF State Championship Bowl Games are Dec. 18 and 19.

The county top 25: You will have to wait until our football preview section - "Kickoff '15" - is released in late August.

8-man football: St. Michael’s Prep is the only county team that plays the 8-man version of the game.

Contact the writer: sfryer@ocregister.com


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