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OCVarsity Midseason Report: Bold predictions, memorable moments
This week is a good a time to take stock of the high school football scene in Orange County.
Most teams have played half of their 10 regular-season games, and have reached the start of league play.
We asked our reporters to give their analysis of what they have seen so far, and to make some predictions on what will happen in the coming weeks of the season.
We’re calling it the OCVarsity Midseason Report and we’ve broken it up into two parts.
Here is Part 2: Bold predictions and memorable moments
What is your ‘You heard it here first’ prediction?
Steve Fryer: El Modena wins the Division 8 championship.
Dan Albano: Servite opens the Trinity League by upsetting four-time defending Trinity League champion St. John Bosco. The Friars were close to a major upset against De La Salle but break-through against the Braves.
Buena Park dethrones La Habra to claim the Freeway League title. The Coyotes have the skill-position depth and the beef up front -- especially if they keep Ryan Nelson at nose guard -- to knock off La Habra. Buena Park also gets the game at home.
Kenny Connolly: As strange as it sounds, Cypress really impressed me in its 30-7 loss to Capistrano Valley last week. The score was not indicative of how close that game really was, and Cougars coach Ernie Bucher called the Centurions set of skill players the most athletic group he’s seen this season. Cypress dropped to No. 10 in this week’s Division 9 poll after the loss, but that’s way too low. With guys like Cameron Covington, Jeremiah Thompson and Dominique Thompson catching passes from Alex Ashcraft, Cypress has the makings of a CIF title contender. I’m jumping on the bandwagon right now, and riding it to the D9 final.
Damian Calhoun: In the preseason, I wrote that more than half of the CIF-SS division titles would be won by an O.C. team. I’m sticking with that, so if you’re looking for a new, fresh hot take: This is the year that Buena Park finally dethrones La Habra as Freeway League champ. It has to happen eventually right? Another bold prediction: Mater Dei’s Ryan Stonehouse will attempt at least 10 punts during Trinity League games. He only attempted eight through five nonleague games.
Andrew Turner: Servite will return to the postseason for the first time under Coach Scott Meyer. The Friars are currently the lowest-ranked of Orange County’s Trinity League teams, but they are a handful. A strong corps of linebackers, led by Jarrett Wesner, Jayce Smalley and Jaiden Jimerson, heads a defense that has allowed just 14.8 points per game. Servite has suffered its two losses by a combined five points.
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What is your most memorable moment of the season so far?
Steve Fryer: Mission Viejo quarterback Matt McDonald, who transferred from Mater Dei for his senior year because no way was Mater Dei going to supplant JT Daniels as quarterback, made the most of his second chance – and right from the start. He completed his first eight passes, three of them for touchdowns, in Mission Viejo’s 48-21 win over Santa Margarita.
Dan Albano: Mater Dei coach Bruce Rollinson shaking hands with retiring Edison coach Dave White after their final meeting as opposing coaches. The veteran coaches showed that rivals, even from the private-public arena, can be friends after the competition and operate with mutal respect.
Kenny Connolly: Colin Schooler’s five touchdown performance against Long Beach Poly was the best individual performance I’ve seen this season. He was the best player on both sides of the football that night.
Damian Calhoun: I haven’t covered many close games, but my most memorable moments of the games I’ve covered were J.T. Daniels’ performance against Bishop Amat and Upland. He completed 40 of 48 passes, for 379 yards and 12 touchdowns. He attempted just one pass in the second half and that was a touchdown pass against Bishop Amat.
Andrew Turner: Servite vs. De La Salle of Concord. The Friars put it all together and nearly upset one of the most-storied programs in high school football. Servite was exactly one minute away from beating the Spartans when Kairee Robinson’s 8-yard rushing touchdown and two-point conversion felled the Friars, 28-27.
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At the end of the season, what will be Orange County fans be talking about?
Steve Fryer: The Division 1 playoffs. We’ve never seen such a loaded division, ever.
Dan Albano: O.C. will have at least one team represented in seven of the CIF finals. With an amazing Division 1 playoffs, O.C. fans and schools will rejoice in the CIF's new competitive equity playoff model. O.C. coaches also will get their just due.
Kenny Connolly: Whether this was the best Mater Dei team of all-time. If the Monarchs keep rolling like they have been, it’s a very realistic conversation topic.
Damian Calhoun: The remarkable run that Mater Dei went on to go undefeated in the Trinity League and capture the program’s first CIF title since 1999.
Andrew Turner: Orange County fans will be talking about this year’s Mater Dei team as one of the most complete teams in county history. The Monarchs have blown away the competition as owners of a 51.4-point margin of victory.
Top-ranked Mater Dei will face St. John Bosco at Cerritos College on Oct. 21. At present, MaxPreps ranks the Monarchs and the Braves as the third and fourth teams in the nation, respectively, and as the top two teams in the state. Sounds like the game of the year.