SEAL BEACH, Calif. — It's hard to believe, but it's been more than 365 days since the last snap of high school football was played in Southern California.
And although 46 other states have made way for the high school sports season to begin, California currently has some of the strictest restrictions and guidelines for youth sports competitions.
Currently, all youth sports competitions — aside from cross country — are prohibited.
On weekends in late December and through January, the sound of high school football was heard once again by passersby.
"Four-hundred and something days off is crazy," sophomore quarterback Malachi Nelson said. "I remember when we first ran out for the game, it didn't feel right because it was so long off."
While Nelson usually plays as a member of the Los Alamitos High School team, he has played as the Line Six Football Club's quarterback.
Line Six is the first nonprofit of its kind, founded by parents like Brendan Brennan to benefit their children playing 11vs11 tackle football.
"We finally got fed up with it. We said this is too important for our kids," Brennan said. "We got together and made a call out. We said, 'Hey, we're [going to] have practice on our own in a park.' I thought 10 kids were [going to] show up, but every kid but one came."
From there, the club team was born, playing in the Winner Circle Champions league based in Corona.
"It was really great to see that community spirit and parents trying to reclaim their kids, take back their season, and find their children again," he said. "I mean, they're back. We got our kids back."
The Champions League has been a recent topic of controversy among the high school football landscape.
While many have praised the club for its ability to give kids a platform to play and an outlet for exposure at the next level, there are some who don't believe it's fair for the circuit to continue operating against the state's guidelines.
To Brennan and Nelson, though, there hasn't been enough done to make way for a high school football season, and the kids are suffering.
"My son has experienced two suicides from former teammates in the last year, and in my mind, I don't want there to be a third, and I don't want him to be the third," Brennan said. "It's my job to do everything in my power because it's up to me, not the state, to make that decision, and we made it."
"The regular would be CIF, but that ended up not happening," Nelson said. "I'm thankful for everyone at the club level for giving not just me, but a lot of players a platform to play."
Line Six has made it a priority to operate safely. Not only does the club have a doctor on its board, but they follow strict CDC protocols and tracing measures.
Though their ultimate hope is to return to the CIF Football Season, Brennan said he believes there is room for both club and CIF in the future.
"We want high school football to come back," he said. "Playing for your town, playing for your community is important. But there's no reason that club football can't coexist with high school football, why we can't continue to build character and prepare them for future success in the offseason."
For now, Brennan, his players, and fellow parents, alongside families across the state, will continue to join with CIF, advocating for a return to high school athletics and believing it is the best move for their kids.