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Fryer: Servite's change pays no early dividends
Maybe it was not the offensive coordinator’s fault.
Servite football coach Troy Thomas dumped offensive coordinator Matt Mitchell after Servite beat Rancho Cucamonga, the No. 10 team in the state rankings at the time, 24-23. Servite offensive line coach Jim O’Connell was promoted to offensive coordinator.
Servite’s first game with the new coaching alignment: Edison 6, Servite 0.
It was Servite’s first shutout loss since the final game of the 2004 season, in which Servite finished 2-8 overall and 0-5 in the Serra League. Servite reassigned Coach Larry Toner to director of freshman formation at the school, John Barnes was lured away from Los Alamitos to coach at Servite, Barnes remained Servite coach for a few hours before deciding he wanted to stay at Los Alamitos, and the school got Troy Thomas to come over from Crespi of Encino where Thomas revitalized the program at his alma mater.
Thomas has subtracted and added coaches to his staff in his seven years at Servite with more frequency than occurs at other schools with top football programs. Some of the coaches leave voluntarily, some don’t, but the turnover rate of assistant coaches at Servite is more active than it is at places like Mater Dei, Mission Viejo and Edison.
Thomas knows what he is doing. His teams in his seven years at Servite have shared or won outright league championships every season. That’s quite an accomplishment in what is widely regarded as the most challenging league in California football.
Servite was without starting running back Salesi Eteaki, injured at practice Wednesday. And that Edison defense is a great one, a speedy and physical unit that kept Servite from crossing its 35-yard line.
Still, when a coaching change is made it is expected that the change will manifest itself in improvement on the field. That did not happen Friday night.
A weaker opponent might help Servite (1-2) work on the offense, but a weaker opponent is not on next week’s schedule. The Friars play nationally ranked Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas at Cerritos College.
Edison gets Mater Dei next Friday, at Orange Coast College. Mater Dei, 3-0 for the first time since 2007, walloped Santa Monica on Thursday, 51-0. Mater Dei-Edison could be a good one.
The first Esperanza-Yorba Linda game was a good one. Those neighboring schools battled down to the final buzzer, with Yorba Linda taking a 17-13 victory. Such games are important to the futures of football programs, with school-shopping parents eyeing results that sometimes determine where they will send their athletically gifted kids.
Mission Viejo got another big victory on another long trip, hammering La Quinta of La Quinta of the desert, 63-14. Mission Viejo went to Bakersfield and Corona to get two of their other victories. Mission Viejo has two home games coming against teams the Diablos should beat, Aliso Niguel and Redlands East Valley, before opening South Coast League play at San Clemente on Oct. 12.
One of the more interesting games of the week was JSerra’s 15-14 victory over Buena Park on Thursday.
Buena Park has enjoyed a football rebirth. In 2009, Buena Park finished 2-8 overall and 0-5 in the Freeway League. Last year, the Coyotes went 4-1 in league and made the playoffs for the second consecutive season.
A victory over JSerra would have solidified the foundation Buena Park coach Anthony White is constructing with his accountability-family-discipline doctrine. JSerra is not the toughest team in the Trinity League, and was playing without four starting linemen because of injuries, but still is a Trinity League team that beat Orange Lutheran last year. Buena Park had a 14-0 lead, but JSerra rallied for the victory that raised the Lions to 3-0.
Santa Margarita is losing players, but not games. On Friday the CIF-Southern Section announced that UCLA-committed offensive lineman Erik Bunte’s transfer last week from Santa Margarita to Mission Viejo passed inspection, that Bunte’s family did make the required change of residence to become eligible at Mission Viejo.
Santa Margarita manhandled Carson, 72-0, Friday. The Eagles had a 65-0 lead at halftime. Santa Margarita in late summer saw the departure of two 2011 all-league contributors, receiver Sean Modster and running back Alex Suchesk, to Mission Viejo.
Santa Margarita scored 55 points against Trabuco Hills last week. If Santa Margarita loses any more players, the Eagles might score 100 points in one game.
Servite would like to score any amount of points its next game.