Looking back at the ’16-17 prep year

NICK PRATTO (center) of Huntington Beach High, is bound for USC and/or MLB (OC Tribune photo).


The high school sports year is just about over, and – as in most years – it was filled with excitement, upsets, memories and more.

It’s impossible to mention all the noteworthy people and events that made up the passing parade of prep athletics in 2016-17 for teams serving the Garden Grove-Huntington Beach-Westminster area, but here are some names and games and more that stood out for us.

Of all the personalities who grabbed attention this year on high school campuses, two of the biggest were from Huntington Beach High and two from Edison High.

  • Hagen Danner of HBHS, a UCLA commit, starred on a star-studded Oiler baseball team. A two-way threat as a pitcher and catcher, this right-hander is considered one of the top “schoolboy” baseball players in the nation. His team was ranked first in California for much of the season.
  • Frankie Wade Sanchez of HBHS was one of the top girls’ basketball players this past season, leading the Oilers all the way to the second round of the CIF SoCal regionals, losing to eventual state runner-up Mater Dei. She was named all-state and is bound for Concordia University.
  • Griffin O’Connor of EHS has become an elite quarterback for the Chargers, leading them to the CIF State Playoffs where they lost narrowly to San Clemente. He passed for 3600 yards in fall 2016 and 37 touchdowns while only being intercepted six times. And … he’s just a junior.
  • Dave White is the Charger coach who retired after 31 years at the school. His final season was a pretty good one, as his team won the Sunset League title, his 14th. He’s also got one CIF-SS title on his list of accomplishments, along with the love and thanks of hundreds of players he’s coached over the years.
  • Other names which stood out this past season included Pacifica’s freshman track sensation Sophia Hartwell and Nick Pratto, a power-hitting pitcher-catcher for Huntington Beach High who is bound for USC, with a possible side trip to the major league draft.
  • Big stories: For fans in the Garden Grove area, the biggest development in athletics didn’t occur on the field or court. The Argonauts will be moved out of the Garden Grove League – of which they were a founding member in 1966 – and into the Golden West circuit, starting in the fall of 2018. The reason? The Argos have been too successful in the GGL, especially in football, So, like Pacifica before them, they are being exiled for being too good.

Another big story – although it’s not exactly new this season – has to be the continuing success of the girls’ basketball program at Orangewood Academy in Garden Grove. The school, with only a few hundred students in its high school department, is a statewide powerhouse. This year OA advanced to the state regional finals for Division II, losing to Mater Dei, which in turn lost the title game by just three points.

WHICH, OF COURSE, leads to thoughts about next season. There will be a new stadium at Garden Grove High, honoring Medal of Honor winner Michael Monsoor. There will be a new head football coach at Edison: Matt Fulham. This fall will see the birth of competitive cheer as an official sport, although it’s unclear just how many schools will choose to offer that program. Especially intriguing is the possibility that competitive cheer – which involves aspects of dance, gymnastics and other activity – will be separate from the traditional role of cheerleader.

But anyway you look at it, there will probably be a lot to cheer when the 2017-18 prep sports year starts in just a few months. Can’t wait to see what happens.

Pete Zarustica writes Monday Morning Coach.





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