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Calhoun Countdown: Sonora will be a Freeway factor

STAFF WRITER

This week the Calhoun Countdown spotlight shines on … Sonora and the Freeway League race.

There were moments of celebration for the Raiders after their thrilling 47-46 victory over Aliso Niguel this past Friday night, but mostly there was relief and exhaustion.

After a night that featured 93 points, more than 1,000 combined total yards in offense, no turnovers, only one punt and a 20-minute halftime show, Sonora offensive lineman Julian Orozco cut short his celebration and laid down on the Aliso Niguel stadium field.

Hopefully for Orozco and the Raiders, they’ve been able to catch their breath, because the fun really begins this week with the start of Freeway League play.

“Every week is going to be a challenge,” Sonora coach Paul Chiotti said. “Going into league, it is going to get tougher and tougher.

“We still have to improve and get better on some things, but at least we know we can battle, we can fight until the end (of games),” he added. “Those are things we’re going to call on in those tough league games going forward.”

The six teams in the Freeway League combined to post a 23-7 nonleague record. Three of those losses belong to Troy (2-3). Sonora is 5-0. Buena Park, Fullerton, La Habra and Sunny Hills are 4-1.

Sonora opens Freeway League play this week, against La Habra on Friday night. You can call it the La Habra City Super Bowl.

Last year, the Raiders went 5-0 in nonleague, won their league opener, but then dropped their final four games.

The Highlanders are the preseason pick to win their ninth consecutive Freeway League title. The battle for the three playoff berths should be exciting.

Sonora quarterback Cole McDonald believes this year’s team is better prepared to contend for the league title.

“We’re 0-0 starting league,” the senior said. “We want to be 1-0 every week.”

Here is the rest of the Calhoun Countdown:

The Countdown Showdown of the Week: The pick for this week is El Toro at Tesoro. (You know we could list every Trinity League here, but we’ll save that for the final week of the regular season.)

Mission Viejo, Tesoro and San Juan Hills are ranked in the county top 10. Meanwhile, El Toro is wondering, 'what about us?'

The Chargers dropped their first two games, but are now on a four-game winning streak, having outscored opponents, 141-24.

Tesoro is also on a four-game winning streak. Titans quarterback Devon Modster suffered a shoulder injury this past Friday, but he said Monday night he will play this week.

El Toro is led by quarterback Dawit Wilson.

This could be a high-scoring clash.

Prediction making time: League play begins this week, so let’s make some predictions on who will capture the titles.

Clip and save. Post it on the fridge.

Academy: St. Margaret’s. No one gets close to the Tartans
Crestview: It will come down to Foothill vs. Villa Park on Oct. 29. Our pick: Villa Park.
Empire: Valencia. The Tigers defense has been stingy this season, allowing just 30 points a game.
Freeway: The field might be closing in on La Habra, but we expect the Highlanders to be able to hold them off again this year.
Garden Grove: Garden Grove.
Golden West: Segerstrom. This should be a fun race.
North Hills: El Modena vs. Canyon in two weeks could determine league champion. Canyon is our pick
Olympic: This appears to be an open race. Does Whittier Christian have enough defense to slow down the opposition? Our pick is Valley Christian.
Orange: Katella. The Knights have been impressive in nonleague.
Orange Coast: Anything is possible here. Estancia is the defending champ and preseason pick to win. The Eagles are off to a 1-4 start. Let’s pick Costa Mesa.
Pacific Coast: Corona del Mar. I still think CdM is still the best of this group.
San Joaquin: Saddleback Valley Christian,
Sea View: San Clemente.
South Coast: Mission Viejo. Competition looks to be serious in the South Coast League, but the Diablos are no strangers to fighting for league titles.
Sunset: Los Alamitos. Can the Griffins get healthy in time to truly battle for the league crown?  
Trinity: Mater Dei. I have a feeling the Monarchs will find a way this season. 

My vote in the this week’s O.C. Top 10 looked like this: 1. Mater Dei; 2. Mission Viejo; 3. Santa Margarita; 4. Orange Lutheran; 5. Tesoro; 6. San Juan Hills; 7. La Habra; 8. JSerra; 9. Servite; 10. San Clemente.

The Real American Hero (for Week 5): Cole McDonald, Sonora. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I’ve seen a better performance by a QB in a game. McDonald rushed 154 yards and completed 16 of 21 passes for 299 yards and four touchdowns in last week’s 47-46 thriller against Aliso Niguel.

The county is chasing Briseno: It was one thing to build up big numbers in nonleague action, but the question now becomes can you continue to put in big numbers in league?

All of the Golden West League coaches know that Santa Ana's Jorge Briseno is going to get his touches, but can they stop him? He’s the first county rusher to top 1,000 yards, he has 20 touchdowns and is averaging 219.2 yards a game. 

Sonora's Jacob Fimbres is second in the county with 946 yards. He is getting ready to run up against a slew of tough teams in the Freeway League. Others to watch include: Ty Cole (Orange) and Jordan Antunez (Garden Gorve). Jordan Leonard (Brethren Christian) is currently fifth in the county.

The player to watch this week: Lj Northington, Orange Lutheran. The Lancers have prepped for Trinity League play with a tough nonleague, now it is time to get to work. The Lancers haven’t finished over .500 in the Trinity League since 2009. If they’re going to get off to a good start this season, Northington will be a big key.


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