Coaches React to Generous Honor Made by the Rams: Exclusive


Getty The Rams celebrate a defensive stop on September 11, 2022.

There are various outlets that recognize the top high school football games of the week in Southern California. But the Los Angeles Rams have joined in on honoring the best programs in the Los Angeles region for 2022.

The Rams are now unveiling HS games of the week this season and announced on Tuesday, September 13 that Bishop Diego from Santa Barbara and St. Pius X of Downey is the Friday, September 16 L.A. Rams High School Coach of the Week Matchup.

Now, in an exclusive interview with Heavy on Rams, coaches from both schools share how it all happened and what it means for their programs.

St. Pius X Head Coach Familiar With Producing NFL Talent

Devah Thomas is leading the Warriors, who one season ago was the runner-up for the CIF Southern Section Division 7 title.

Thomas is not only building an annual championship contender in Downey, but he helped produce two NFL defensive backs: Keisean Nixon of the Green Bay Packers and Deommodore Lenoir of the San Francisco 49ers. Thomas says his connection with Rams high school coordinator Ghalee Wadood helped make the game happen.

“He got the ball rolling with two good teams. It’ll be a good game for us,” Thomas told Heavy.

Thomas additionally has learned over the years from one popular member of the Rams coaching staff: Wide receivers coach Eric Yarber, who he saw at training camp.

“I did get a chance to run into an old friend and mentor in Eric Yarber (WR coach). He’s from the city and L.A. like me. So we’ve got an uncle/nephew relationship. It was great to see him again,” Thomas said.

Thomas also got the chance to interact with Rams newcomer Bobby Wagner, who played in the Southern Section at Colony High in Ontario.

The Warriors are 4-0 entering this contest with Bishop Diego. Thomas called the Cardinals a “very physical, very disciplined” team. He’ll bank on his defensive line and two-way players for this contest.

“Our whole defensive line is phenomenal. We have a defensive end in Greg McClendon who’s about 6-foot-4 and 215-pound. We have a hybrid defensive tackle/end in Kevin Johnson who’s about 6-foot-5, 230-pound. We have Esekielu Aevanu who’s our nose guard who’s about 6-foot-1, 285-pounds. We have Von Miller 2.0 in D’Angelo Davis who’s about 6-foot-2, 215-pounds but has a high motor and he’s a phenom. Our defensive linemen are all crazy,” Thomas said. “Also, we have Jordan Shaw who’s a receiver and DB. He’s a phenom. We have DeJour Meneffee who’s a two-way athlete for us and Christian Harris. We’ve got guys all over the field who are hungry and want to make a run at a championship.”

His players were energized to learn the Rams honored them.

“They were fired about it. Now they’re like ‘It’s time for us to go put on a show,'” Thomas said.

Cardinals Joke About Logo

Athletic director and defensive coordinator Aaron Skinner cracked a joke to the Rams once they were asked for a particular item.

“They asked me for a logo for the graphic they put it. And I was like ‘Sorry it’s a logo of your guys’ rival,'” Skinner joked, referring to the Arizona Cardinals.

His team does have this distinction: They’re the first representing Santa Barbara County to be recognized by the Rams.

“It’s quite the honor. We’re pretty excited about it,” Skinner said. “When they called, the first thing they said to me was ‘We were looking at good matchups. We saw you guys on it playing down here and we [the Rams] we like we don’t think we’ve done a team that far north in the Southern Section.’ So we’re excited.”

Skinner believes St. Pius X will be “extremely athletic across the board at all of their skill positions. It very well maybe the most athletic overall team we’ll play against.”

Head coach Tom Crawford has relied on a power running attack with Quran Gossett but has also seen quarterback A.J. Vele blossom. Bryan Trejo has impressed as a two-way player and handled field goals for Bishop Diego. His team has been led by a powerful offensive line featuring NCAA Division I target Pasefika Salatiielu.

Crawford is relishing the honor made by the Rams.

“I think to see the Rams actually invite a small school team and two solid programs, I think it shows they’re reaching the community and certainly with the fan base they have here in the northern part of the 805, it’s kind of cool to see and our kids are excited.”

Read More
Comment Here
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x