ERIC SONDHEIMER / ON HIGH SCHOOLS

Some passing thoughts on football season

Look for productive quarterback seasons from Hart, Santa Margarita and Mater Dei. And St. John Bosco might have the area's top defense.

First look at the upcoming high school football season, from lessons learned on the summer passing league circuit:

If Newhall Hart has any offensive line, junior quarterback Brady White and junior receiver Trent Irwin will rekindle memories of the glory days when the school was a passing machine with the likes of Kyle Boller, Matt Moore, Kyle Matter and Sean Norton.

Santa Margarita sophomore quarterback K.J. Costello is going to grow up fast and be an immediate contributor, because Coach Harry Welch, in his final season, will make it a priority to leave Costello with lessons he'll never forget.

Santa Ana Mater Dei senior quarterback Chase Forrest will surprise skeptics who will suddenly jump on the bandwagon when they see how well he can run besides flinging spirals to his underrated receivers.

Bellflower St. John Bosco's defense will be as good, if not better, than the defense of Harbor City Narbonne last season. From linemen who can run to linebackers who can hit to defensive backs who can cover, it's going to be tough to find a weakness.

As good as St. John Bosco's defense will be, Long Beach Poly won't be far behind, led by defensive linemen Jason Fao and Joseph Wicker.

For the first time since 2010, Mission Hills Alemany didn't win a passing tournament. No worry. That was the year the Warriors went 12-1 and advanced to a Pac-5 semifinal. There's going to be plenty of offense with receiver Desean Holmes and quarterback Alif Grayes, an elusive runner.

Gardena Serra and West Hills Chaminade are likely to play twice this fall — once in the Mission League and again in the Western Division final. It will be interesting to see which team wins first, because there won't be a sweep.

Westlake Village Oaks Christian ended the summer winning two tournaments and looking terrific, but what is not well known about the Lions is that they don't have a lot of depth. When injuries start to happen they could have trouble staying near the top of the Pac-5.

Mission Viejo, for all the passing it does, wants to overpower teams by running with Stanford-bound fullback Daniel Marx and the speedy Alex Suchesk. If quarterback Ian Fieber can be efficient and mistake free, the Diablos can go 10-0 in the regular season.

Venice, with 20 starters returning, has realistic ambitions of winning its first City Section Division I championship. But Crenshaw and Narbonne have enough talent to make it back to the championship game if some young players mature enough during the regular season.

Corona Centennial, Vista Murrieta and Upland are three high-caliber programs headed on a collision course to once again decide the Inland Division championship. Upland could have as many as eight transfer students on its roster.

Some underrated players: Jacob Knight, running back, Crenshaw; Dante Pettis, cornerback, JSerra; Jack Savage, linebacker, Anaheim Servite; Joseph McIntosh, safety, Chaminade; Nico Evans, running back, Loyola; MC Poe, quarterback, Los Angeles Cathedral; Kiante Goudeau, cornerback, Huntington Beach Edison; Rick Ellison, cornerback, Santa Margarita.

Top opening games Aug. 30: Venice at Chaminade; Crenshaw vs. Long Beach Poly at Veterans Stadium; Santa Margarita at Bishop Amat; Upland vs. Mater Dei at Santa Ana Stadium; Sierra Canyon at San Fernando; Narbonne at Palos Verdes.

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

Twitter: @LATSondheimer

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