It’s that mash-up time of the year in athletics, with different sports coming in from various directions.
High school football season is off to a roaring start with the North County stacked with top-shelf teams again. Torrey Pines entered the week ranked No. 1 in San Diego County and if you attended its thrilling victory over powerhouse San Clemente in the opener, the Falcons’ status is well-deserved.
San Diego State is primed as it goes for its fourth straight season with at least 10 wins. The Aztecs will continue their reputation as Running Back University by unveiling Juwan Washington as the featured ball-carrier. He follows Donnel Pumphrey and Rashaad Penny as quarterback Christian Chapman, a former Carlsbad High star, begins his final season.
SDSU opens at Stanford on Friday, so it’ll be clear early how the Aztecs stack up against a Power 5 Conference squad. Stanford fell to the Aztecs last year and that didn’t go over so well on the Farm. SDSU is prepared for the Cardinal’s best shot.
The NFL? Yep, it’s about to raise its curtain as we enter Year 2 of the Spanos family snatching the team away from San Diego. The Chargers are bragging about selling out the tiny soccer stadium they rent in Carson, after selling out Chargers fans of nearly six decades with their move to Los Angeles.
The Chargers are an interesting dilemma. The dissatisfaction with what the NFL and the Chargers did to America’s Finest City remains a scab which is picked at and reopened with their Sept. 9 opener against the Kansas City Chiefs coming fast.
My circle of friends fall into two distinctive camps: they hate the Chargers and want nothing to do with them or they still root for the team, but certainly not the ownership group, which treated its best customers in dastardly fashion.
Me? I root for players and there are four Chargers I’m keeping an eye on:
Philip Rivers is entering his 15th season and it will be a long time before a quarterback of his stature and statistics with more than 340 passing touchdowns and 50,000 yards, takes a snap for the Chargers. Rivers continues to commute from the San Diego area as he continues to ascend the NFL’s all-time passing in nearly every significant passing category.
Unfortunately for Rivers, he’s been saddled with the Chargers. It’s a crime the team hasn’t accomplished more with such a productive player at the most critical spot on the field. The Chargers have missed the playoffs in seven of the last eight years — despite Rivers’ ability and durability — an indicator of how poorly the Chargers have constructed their rosters.
Rookie Derwin James hasn’t done anything in camp to cast shade on the Chargers selecting him with their first pick. The former Florida State standout has stood out in the preseason games, leading the team in defensive snaps and impact plays. The Chargers are still tinkering with where to place him in the secondary, but don’t be surprised when he starts in Week 1 at either strong or free safety.
Defensive end Joey Bosa continues to follow in the footsteps of the team’s greatest pass rushers, a list that includes Leslie O’Neal over a career and Shawne Merriman in short spurts. Bosa is ready for another monster season and O’Neal’s single-season franchise record of 17 sacks in1992 is in Bosa’s cross hairs.
Rookie offensive lineman Scott Quessenberry is keeping his fingers crossed that a Chargers official doesn’t knock on his door and tell him coach Anthony Lynn wants to see him and be sure to bring your playbook. The fifth-round pick out of La Costa Canyon and UCLA has impressed coaches with his skills, versatility and work ethic. Hopefully that’s enough for a spot on the 53-man roster and gives him the opportunity to learn behind Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey.
Contact Jay Paris at email@example.com. Follow him @jparis_sports.
Sportswriter Jay Paris has written his “Sports Talk” column since joining the Coast News in 2013.
Paris, a Cardiff resident, is a longtime Southern California writer, getting his start with the Orange County Register before coming to San Diego in 1992 to cover the Chargers.
He had the Chargers beat for more than two decades with Oceanside Blade-Citizen, the North County Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune, before being named a sports columnist with the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Paris has won numerous awards voted on by his peers in the Pro Football Writers of America. He has also been a staple on countless media platforms, everything from the KPBS to MLB Network and various radio outlets.
Paris is also the author of three books, with his latest one being, “Shohei Ohtani: The Amazing Story Of Baseball’s Two-Way Japanese Superstar.” He has also written “Game Of My Life Chargers” and “Game Of My Life Rams.”
He currently covers the NFL in Los Angeles for Forbes. com and is a contributor to USA Today Sports Weekly. Follow Jay on Twitter @jparis_sports