When the music is finally turned down to a volume that coaches can talk over and players are able to hear their thoughts, it’s a signal that the workout is coming to a close. Soon, the varsity players will shout “Braves” or “Family” on the three-second cadence and be on their way to the training room for ice and eventually home to do their homework and prepare for the next day of school and training in the shadow of the brutal Bellflower, California heat.
Waiting in the hallway that leads to the St. John Bosco wrestling room, weight room, and gymnasium are the athletes the varsity players once were: wide-eyed and wiry middle-schooler’s, hoping to propel their young football careers onto varsity, college, and into superstardom. St. John Bosco is the perfect place for that.
In an era of preps athletics, particularly football, where transferring is prevalent, and staying at the same high school for four years isn’t, the St. John Bosco Braves have built a program that has somewhat endured this trend.
How is it a perennial powerhouse and five-star factory able to remain atop state and national rankings without losing much of its core talent to the transfer phenomenon?
Simply put, for St. John Bosco football, it starts early.
It is no secret that the St. John Bosco football program is a 12-month operation; on the field, in the weight room, and in meetings, Bosco players are preparing for the season well in advance, all while taking on a full high school course-load.
To much of Bosco’s top talent, this is hardly new to them, thanks to the Braves ‘Early Edge Program’ that gives sixth through eighth graders a chance to learn from and train with the St. John Bosco football varsity coaching staff.
“Being in the Bosco Early Edge program was the first step in maturing me as a young man,” senior linebacker Ralen Goforth says of training with Bosco before deciding to attend the school, “seeing studs all around at this program was a real eye opener.”
Goforth, a three-star recruit who holds offers from just about every Pac-12 school and several others from the SEC and BIG 10, wasn’t the only stud in the program that decided to stay for four years. Among the Early Edge alumna are names like tight end Jude Wolfe, a four-star TE committed to USC, as well as CB Chris Steele, another USC commit who is widely considered as the top CB in the entire country.
In the months after the 2013 St. John Bosco football team delivered Bosco its first CIF, State, and National championship title, the program was born. Touting names like Josh Rosen and Sean McGrew, coupled with a seven-on-seven circuit that was becoming reminiscent of the AAU basketball circuit, Bosco started a team of its own in Four Vertical Football, that attracted top young talent to come and practice at Bosco and be surrounded by high school football’s elite talent.
Coach James Adams, the Braves offensive line coach and trainer for the Early Edge Program understood that actively building relationships founded on learning the culture of Bosco was vital.
“You have these guys who make this program and the campus and school part of their daily routine,” Adams said of how the program helped attract kids to Bosco, “when they get here as freshman, they know where buildings are, used to the weight room, and have seen what a lot of the kids here do after school.”
After seeing an ad for the Early Edge program, senior TE Jude Wolfe, then 8th grader, decided to attend one of the workouts, eventually took a shadow day at Bosco, and after that day, knew he wanted to attend Bosco:
“I think training with the guys prior to coming to Bosco built a solid relationship, and I knew we had something special.”
It was the prospect of what he and his teammates could build that brought Wolfe to Bosco and kept him there.
“That pushed me to remain at Bosco and see all the things we could accomplish together. It’s been awesome seeing my teammates and I progress through the years to where we are today.”
As the program intended, Wolfe was prepared for what the four years of elite level high school football and training as he, like his teammates Goforth and Steele, were introduced to an introductory Bosco speed and weight program that encouraged the same intensity, high energy, and proper technique standard that the varsity players were held to.
Surely, Bosco football has fallen victim to the transfer trend, both losing players, like former Brave Josh Delgado (now IMG Academy), who also participated in the Early Edge program, and adding players like Beaux Collins (formerly Sherman Oaks Notre Dame).
The unique quality of Jason Negro and subsequently Bosco football is the commitment to endurance and committing early on. What Coach Negro does, is foster a player-built culture, one that combines the reliance on player leadership and youthful freedom, with coaching mentorship. We have seen it since his early years at St. John Bosco, essentially building a run-of-the-mill Trinity League team into what many would consider an emerging dynasty.
Many of the players on Negro’s most successful teams, like the 2013 national championship team, were players that came as young athletes hoping to help create, cultivate, and build upon the culture St. John Bosco high school and football instill in their young men.
What do they expect in return?
The same commitment to endurance from their young, athletic pupils.
Bosco Early Edge: Seen are seniors Jude Wolfe, Chris Steele, Ralen Goforth as 8th graders