Mater Dei receiver Nicholas Little, right, tries to break free from Narbonne… (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)
Monday was freedom day for more than 100 high school athletes who play for Southern Section teams. They became eligible to compete in football, cross-country, girls' tennis, girls' golf and girls' volleyball after sitting out the first month of the season under new CIF transfer rules.
They either didn't change their residence, didn't move with an entire family unit or got caught up in one of the many transfer rules that can restrict eligibility. Under new CIF transfer rules, instead of having to sit out a year, they're eligible after a monthlong sit-out period.
In football, several teams will receive an immediate boost. Pasadena La Salle, which is 5-0, will have two transfers from L.A. Cathedral to put into the starting lineup, junior defensive end Brandon Mulligan and junior receiver Jared Akins. Also eligible is Sean Cowell, a linebacker from Arcadia Rio Hondo Prep.
Corona Santiago has been waiting patiently to unveil 6-foot-4 junior receiver Jordan Huffman, a transfer from Corona Roosevelt. Also eligible for Santiago is Devin Hill, a junior cornerback from Roosevelt.
There has been much debate about whether coaches should immediately put players into the starting lineup once they become eligible. The players have been practicing since they arrived.
"Our philosophy is the best players are going to play," Santiago Coach Jeff Steinberg said. He's [Huffman] put in the work."
Pasadena Maranatha will receive help from Jack Basalari, a kicker who transferred from San Marino, and lineman Logan McClain, a transfer from Pasadena Blair. Both will be helpful for a team that's still dealing with the loss of quarterback Andrew Elffers for the season because of a knee injury.
Westlake Village Westlake, which has lost three consecutive games, will be strengthened by the addition of Tongione Fahamokioa, a linebacker who transferred from Lancaster Eastside.
Santa Ana Mater Dei will unveil defensive back Shaquwan Carson, a transfer from Cathedral Prep in Erie, Pa.
Joe Cantu, a junior defensive lineman from La Mirada, becomes eligible at La Habra. Chris Bayle, a junior linebacker at La Cañada St. Francis, will join his sophomore brother, Matt, on the Golden Knights' team. Matt was eligible immediately after transferring from San Marino under the one-time free transfer rule for sophomores, but Chris had to wait until Oct. 1.
It remains to be seen how well the new CIF transfer rules are working. There were 184 athletes whose names were submitted to the Southern Section in August who fall under the new sit-out period rule. Another 179 names were submitted in September.
As Thom Simmons, the spokesman for the Southern Section, said, "I think it's way too early to tell whether it's a success, failure or what it is. We need a year's worth of data to see if schools are happy or not."
What's clear is that Monday was a happy day for those athletes who've waited more than a month to be cleared to put on a school uniform.