Chaminade quarterback Brad Kaaya warms up before a game earlier this season. (Angela Means )
It's not every high school football season that a team receives a bolt of lightning to send it on a trajectory even opponents never thought possible.
That's the impact 6-foot-4 junior quarterback Brad Kaaya might have at West Hills Chaminade after being inserted into the starting lineup last week against Sherman Oaks Notre Dame. He completed 20 of 24 passes for 362 yards and one touchdown in a 35-27 victory.
"I've always believed I could do it," Kaaya said.
Chaminade (4-1) has relied on the running of standout tailback Terrell Newby. Adding Kaaya to the mix presents all kinds of new challenges for opponents.
"They look a little different. They look a little more explosive," said Gardena Serra Coach Scott Altenberg, whose team plays the Eagles on Friday night in a Mission League opener.
Kaaya transferred to Chaminade from Encino Crespi in January. He has shared time with senior Reggie Reed. A rib injury slowed his progress, but when the Eagles had a bye week, he made major improvement, causing Coach Ed Croson to give him a shot as a starter.
Now the possibilities are endless if he performs like he did against Notre Dame and isn't a one-game wonder.
"We're going to find out," Croson said. "We feel it's a legitimate him."
Earning a scholarship
Who says you can't earn a scholarship based on your performance during your senior year? Yes, it's tough these days with college recruiters accepting commitments from players who are sophomores and even freshmen, but Mossi Johnson of Los Angeles Crenshaw proved this season that a senior who works hard can be impressive enough to land an offer.
UCLA made that offer last week, and Johnson committed on Wednesday night. He has been a standout receiver and defensive back for the Cougars (4-1) and had two interceptions in an upset victory over Westlake Village Oaks Christian.
"I'm going to come in as an athlete, and they'll find a position for me," Johnson said.
The 6-foot-1, 175-pound senior is thrilled with the way things turned out.
"I guess I did earn the offer," he said.
Excitement in Palmdale
If you're looking for a player college recruiters will be excited about from the class of 2014, junior running back Demario Richard of Palmdale fits the criteria.
He has rushed for 850 yards and scored 12 touchdowns for the 5-0 Falcons.
"He's one of those kids who can do it all," Coach Jeff Williams said. "He's big enough to run over opponents, he can run around them and he has great vision."
Freshman to watch
Running back Leo Lambert III is playing on the Notre Dame freshman team and earning rave reviews.
He's averaging 12 yards a carry and has rushed for 727 yards and scored 15 touchdowns in five games for the Knights (5-0).
John Barnes, the football coach at Los Alamitos since 1979, was trying for his 300th coaching victory Thursday against Huntington Beach Marina. He'd become the fourth coach in state history with 300 or more victories, joining Bob Ladouceur of Concord De La Salle, Marijon Ancich of Santa Fe Springs St. Paul and Herb Meyer of Oceanside.
Making principal smile
One of the best players on the Newhall Hart freshman football team is kicker Andrew Nielsen, the son of Principal Collyn Nielsen. He had a 34-yard field goal last week. "I've never seen a freshman boot the ball into the end zone like he has," varsity Coach Mike Herrington said.
Hart's freshman and junior varsity teams are unbeaten, but the varsity team is only 4-1. "It boils down to the head man. I'll take all the blame," Herrington said.