JSerra was the biggest surprise of the most recent Trinity League football season, winning four of five league contests to finish second behind champion St. John Bosco, its best season since beginning varsity competition in 2007.
A big reason for the Lions’ success was the performance of junior running back Edward Vander, a transfer from Paramount High School who piled up 1,388 rushing yards and scored 23 touchdowns en route to earning first-team all-league honors.
But just as suddenly as Vander appeared for the Lions, he was gone, transferring back to Paramount last spring and putting a big damper on JSerra’s hopes of building on last season’s success.
The Lions received a lesson that has become increasingly common in the Trinity League: What comes around doesn’t always come back around.
Vander’s movements are certainly on the extreme end but hardly extraordinary in the high stakes Trinity League. Players looking for more exposure to college recruiters, a chance to play with a top-rated quarterback or just more competitive games will certainly find the Trinity League attractive.
Servite has been the beneficiary of a number of high-profile transfers in recent years, but now the talent stream seems to be flowing in the opposite direction.
Last month, it was reported that brothers Osiris and Amon-Ra St. Brown transferred from Servite to Mater Dei. Osiris is only halfway through his high school career but already has scholarship offers from Miami, Michigan and Notre Dame. Amon-Ra will be a sophomore running back and defensive back for the Monarchs.
And earlier in the year, Servite saw Micah Croom pull a one-and-done with the Friars. Croom, a 6-3, 210-pound safety who has committed to Utah, transferred in from Long Beach Poly last summer, watched the Friars lose their final four league games and get bounced by Poly in the first round of the playoffs. Croom evidently saw enough and decided to move on to La Mirada High for his senior season.
Santa Margarita will feature one of the top quarterbacks in the nation in K.J. Costello this fall. A chance to be on the receiving end of his pinpoint throws was too good to pass up for blue-chip prospect Dylan Crawford. He transferred in from St. Francis in La Canada last winter. The situation was so attractive Crawford was willing to sit out the first five games of next season, as required by Southern Section transfer rules.
JSerra lost its starting quarterback to graduation after last season, which can have an adverse effect on returning receivers. Isaiah Diego-Williams, the third-leading receiver for the Lions last season, left JSerra last month. He’s reportedly headed to Serra of Gardena, which will return last season’s starting quarterback, Khalil Tate, who is committed to Arizona.
And let’s not feel completely sorry for JSerra, as the void left behind by Vander is also attractive to fellow running backs. Sure enough, Avery Williams, who was a two-way standout alongside Crawford at St. Francis last season, transferred to JSerra in May.
The Lions also added linebacker Corey Selenski, an all-South Coast League performer for Dana Hills, and wide receiver Charlie Mestaz, who caught 23 passes for San Clemente last season.
Maybe the Lions won’t be in such bad shape next season after all.