Ay dios Amat … Long Beach Poly gets No. 1 QB in country …

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Doesn’t it sometimes feel like the Pac-5 walls are closing in around Bishop Amat?

On Wednesday it was learned that Malik Henry, a Florida St. commit and No. 1 QB in the class of 2016, is headed to Long Beach Poly. Henry played at Westlake last year and was at IMG Academy in Florida earlier this year.

This wouldn’t be so significant around here if Amat weren’t one of the favorites in the Pac-5. But now you can add another team to the mix … assuming Henry is LB Poly’s QB. So, that makes Corona Centennial, St. John Bosco, Mater Dei, Serra and LB Poly all legit Pac-5 title contenders … along with Amat.

The division is always strong but this year it’s looking particularly nasty.

Bishop Amat’s Tyler Vaughns picks USC as his college destination …

The Bishop Amat High School football pipeline to USC is back up and running.

Standout wide receiver Tyler Vaughns became the second big-time Lancers’ recruit this summer to give a verbal to USC. Vaughns announced his decision on Wednesday at a lunchtime ceremony in front of his Amat classmates.

“It feels like home to me and it’s good to stay local,” Vaughns said when asked why he chose the Trojans. “My parents can come see the games. My parents blessed me with the opportunity to get here to this stage, so I felt like I could give them an opportunity to see me play and not have to go across the country.”

Indeed, Vaughns was a national recruit. The 6-3 receiver had 15 offers and is considered to be on the top receiver on the West Coast. He narrowed his selection down to Alabama, Georgia, Washington and USC.

In late July, Vaughns’ Amat teammate Trevon Sidney, also a receiver, gave a verbal commitment to USC.

Amat is no stranger to sending its top talent the Trojans’ way. In the late 1980s and throughout the ’90s, many former Lancers played their college ball at USC. The school is also famous for sending legendary quarterback Pat Haden and receiver JK McKay on to stellar careers for the Trojans.

Vaughns caught a school record 83 passes last season for 1,183 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Concussions force Karl Holmes Jr. to walk away from football at 22 …

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As the phone call dragged on, Karl Holmes Jr. began to tune out the voice on the other end of the line. He had heard all he needed to. The message was clear: stop playing football or else …

The headaches that had plagued him for several months and the increasing memory loss when given menial tasks by family members weren’t because of overexertion, as he had hoped. It was all adding up now. Just a day shy of his 22nd birthday, Holmes knew his football career was over.

“The doctor said I was at risk of developing a brain disease called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy,” Holmes said while remembering the call that ended it all. “When he first called, I was tuned in. Then, I started to fade out. I just started thinking about all the hard work that I had put in to get to this point. Everything just kind of came to a stop.”

This wasn’t the end Holmes, a former standout receiver at Muir High School in Pasadena, had imagined for his football career. But as he started to think about the several concussions he had suffered in a relatively short amount of time, it all started to make sense.

There was the shot he took during a hitting drill just before his senior year at Muir. There was the time he got rocked by his then Arizona St. teammate Vontaze Burfict (now in the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals) during a Sun Devils practice. There was the car accident. And then there was the last one, which came this past spring at Grand Valley State. Holmes doesn’t remember it at all.

It was all just part of the game, or so Holmes thought until he started developing severe headaches after returning home to Pasadena for summer break in May. Then came the memory loss and it was obvious something was really wrong.

“I noticed for a certain period of time that I remembered people asking me to do things, but at the time I just couldn’t remember what they asked,” Holmes said. “I would go back three or four days later and sit back like ‘He really did ask me that.’ I told my mom that I thought I was starting to forget things.”

The headaches, some lasting as long as four days, eventually sent Holmes to the emergency room. That’s when the process of having advance brain tests began. In lay terms, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy is a progressive brain disease that’s caused by repeated trauma to the brain. It’s the condition that athletes in contact sports fear most.

Despite all the body parts that football can ruin, brain injuries have become the hot-button issue of the sports medicine community. Stories of athletes either dead or in dilapidated states because of head or neck injuries are now commonplace. Governing bodies at all levels of the football have quickly moved to take precautionary action and limit exposure to such catastrophic outcomes caused by such a violent sport.

Never mind the the risks, though. Football was always Holmes’ beacon of hope. It was his way to make something great out of a childhood rife with struggle. Holmes’ father, Karl Sr., is currently on death row for his role in the infamous 1993 Halloween murders that saw three young Pasadena boys gunned down in a gang retaliation shooting gone wrong.

Holmes met his father for the first time when he was 5 and didn’t see him again until he was 11. Holmes’ mother, Wanda Martin, wasn’t always a presence in his life until well into his high school days at Muir.

But through it all, Holmes has always been the entertaining kid with a contagious smile who knew exactly what to do when he had the football in his hands. After being a standout receiver and defensive back at Muir, Holmes signed with Arizona St.

Holmes was one of several Pasadena-area standouts in his age group to set his sights on college stardom and hopefully something beyond. USC defensive back Kevon Seymour, USC receiver Steven Mitchell and soon-to-be Oregon quarterback Vernon Adams were all part of the crew Holmes ran with.

After two years and the departure of head coach Dennis Erickson at Arizona St., Holmes left Tempe for Mt. San Antonio College where he never actually played but completed his associate of arts degree and got offers to continue his football career at Illinois and Colorado.

Because of an NCAA rules change in academic requirements, Holmes couldn’t attend Illinois like he had wanted and decided to continue his playing career at the best Division II school possible. Holmes enrolled at Grand Valley St. in Michigan and was slated to start at receiver this fall.

Holmes suffered the last of his football-related concussions in Grand Valley St.’s spring game. He doesn’t recall the circumstances one bit. Soon came the onset of symptoms and ultimately the conclusion that it’s best not to risk things further.

But Holmes isn’t bitter now that his career is over several years short of what he had hoped. He holds no grudges against the sport because of his circumstances and wants to continue to be a part of it in a different way by coaching after he finishes college.

For the immediate future, though, Holmes will root on his friends and family who continue on with their gridiron dreams. In addition to riends in high places, Holmes’ cousins Darick Jr. and Desean play at Arizona and San Diego St., respectively. Another cousin, Darnay, is a junior at Calabasas High and is one of the top recruits in the country for his class.

“Football just gave me a vision to see something I probably wouldn’t have seen,” Holmes said. “I’ve met a lot of people. I’ve networked. I’ve been a lot of places because of football. Football has allowed me to go to college. It was a way of repaying my family.

“Football has taught to me to be humble at all times because any time could be your last snap. I had no idea, no clue to even think that my last snap would be coming any time soon. Unfortunately, I’m not able to keep playing, but I want to go on and coach. I want to give something back to the game. Football is greatest sport on the planet.”

CIF-SS decides to move forward with concept of new football playoffs format

A CIF-Southern Section high school football postseason where playoff divisions are determined by teams, not leagues, got one step closer to becoming a reality on Thursday.

The Southern Section Executive Committee agreed to move forward with the concept of creating playoff groupings for football based solely on the competitive equity of teams. The concept will soon become a proposal made to the Southern Section Council at its Oct. 6 meeting. That would be followed by a vote of league representatives in January. The new format could be in place by the 2016-17 school year.

“We want to make a difference,” CIF-Southern Section commissioner Rob Wigod said. “If you’re in a leadership position, it’s your job and responsibility to make a difference. And I firmly believe this could be one of the biggest differences made in the Southern Section in our over 100 years of history. I really believe that.

“This is a major change from what we’ve been doing.”

The new format would be similar to the one currently used to determine the boys and girls basketball playoffs. But unlike basketball, school enrollment will not be considered, only competitive equity. Currently, football playoff divisions are determined by league groupings. Under the new format, teams from the same league could play in different playoff divisions.

Strength of schedule would be the key metric used to determine the power rankings of each team. Only the previous two seasons’ worth of data would be considered, thus creating the possibility of heavy movement from year to year. Teams would find out their annual division assignment in August, mere weeks before the season starts.

The new system would surely create a super Division 1 where the top 16 teams in the Southern Section would compete for the championship. It would also create a more realistic chance at postseason success for schools currently toiling in upper divisions simply because of their league placement.

“Our responsibility as an organization is to show our schools an alternative,” Wigod said. “We’ve been doing it a certain way and this is an attempt to show them a different. It’s ultimately up to them. It will be their decision; if they prefer to keep going the way we are or if they’re interested in a new concept, giving every school an opportunity to compete for CIF a championship at a level that school and that team in that sport should be able to compete it.”

The structure of the playoffs would remain the same with 13 divisions and 16 playoff teams in each division. Like the current system, priority will be given to league champions, second- and third-place teams. At-large bids would also still be considered in applicable divisions.

West Covina standout Isaiah Love progressing well after neck injury, but won’t play vs. Colony or St. Francis

West Covina standout defensive back Isaiah Love is making good progress as he tries to return from an unfortunate offseason neck injury.

According to Bulldogs head coach Mike Maggiore, Love’s neck fracture is completely healed as are two ligaments.

“It looks like he’ll be able to play this year at some point,” Maggiore said. “It just depends on how rehab goes. He wants to play, but no doctor is going to clear him unless he’s completely healed. He also has to get comfortable with it again, too.”

Love hasn’t practiced yet and Maggiore has ruled him out for the Bulldogs’ Week Zero opener against reigning Central Division champion Colony on Aug. 28. Love also is likely to miss the following week’s game against St. Francis.

Love did receive offers from Colorado and Washington State last week and Maggiore estimated Love’s college offers now exceed 10 schools. Love injured his neck when he was involved in a car accident earlier this summer while traveling to UC Berkeley for an unofficial visit with his 7-on-7 team Boby By Tra.