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Passing tournament gives early glimpse

OCVARSITY.COM

Football begins early this fall, with season-opening games Aug. 23.

To some, the 2012 season starts Saturday at Dana Hills. That's the when-and-where of the Nike Air Strike Passing Tournament. The event has a collection of many outstanding Southern California teams, including 2011 CIF-Southern Section Pac-5 and state champion Santa Margarita, '11 Southwest Division finalist El Toro, Mater Dei and Mission Viejo

Passing tournaments are 7-on-7, touch-football scrimmages with no blocking or tackling. Quarterbacks are given four seconds to throw the football. Games are 40 minutes, and each team plays a minimum of four games.

The event is divided into four divisions: Nike Zoom Division A has Chaminade of West Hills, Dana Hills, Oaks Christian of Westlake Village, and Tesoro; Nike Vapor Division B has Alemany of Mission Hills, Mater Dei, Mission Viejo and Upland; Nike Speed Division C has Capistrano Valley, Long Beach Poly, Narbonne of Harbor City and San Clemente; and Nike Combat Division D has Edison, El Toro, Loyola of Los Angeles and Santa Margarita.

Last year's top two Orange County quarterbacks will be on display – El Toro's Conner Manning and Santa Margarita's Johnny Stanton.

The games are played on three fields at Dana Hills, all on Saturday, starting at 8:30 a.m. with championship games at 5 p.m. Admission is free, with food and drink available for purchase. More information is at danahillsfootball.com/airstrike.html.

It's hard for some people, including yours truly, to put much stock in the results of a football event that lacks the essentials of blocking and tackling. But coaches get excited if their team wins a passing tournament, or beats a big-name team in a tournament. When we talk with Orange County coaches this summer as we seek information to assemble preseason rankings, many coaches emphasize passing-tournament results when discussing their teams or other teams.

Taking a look around Orange County high school sports:

•Santa Margarita won its SMCHS Passing Tournament played on the school's campus this past Saturday. The Eagles beat Long Beach Poly, 45-13, in the tournament final. Stanton, All-County first-team all-purpose in 2011, completed 68 percent of his passes for 25 touchdowns and one interception.

•Former Orange Lutheran football coach Jim Kunau has been hired as an assistant professor at Concordia University in Irvine. Kunau will work in Corcordia's Masters in Coach and Athlete Administration program. Kunau coached Lutheran football for 20 remarkable years during which he advanced the Lancers from a good small-schools program to one that won CIF-Southern Section Pac-5 and CIF State championships before he was released from the position earlier this year.

•Now that it has been decided that criminal charges will not be filed against former San Clemente football coach Eric Patton and other former Capistrano Unified high school coaches accused of being part of a kickback scheme involving a sports equipment company, maybe Patton will return to coaching as an assistant. Patton is an outstanding coach and gentleman, and would be a splendid asset to any football program. Don't expect Patton to be hired by one of the Capistrano Unified high schools (Aliso Niguel, Capistrano Valley, Dana Hills, San Clemente, San Juan Hills and Tesoro) but perhaps he will wind up on the Saddleback College staff or at one of the Saddleback Valley Unified high schools (El Toro, Laguna Hills, Mission Viejo and Trabuco Hills).

•Former Rams LeRoy Irvin and Lucious Smith have been added to the Canyon football coaching staff. Another addition is former Beckman head coach Fred Shambaugh, who will be Canyon's defensive coordinator. Irvin was a Pro Bowl cornerback for the Rams in their Anaheim Stadium days, as was Smith who also played at Cal State Fullerton.

•Tustin football coach Myron Miller is guardedly optimistic that athletic eligibility will be granted to running back DaVonte Young, who transferred to Tustin from St. John Bosco of Bellflower, where in the 2011 season he rushed for 1,035 yards and eight touchdowns as a junior. Young was a star freshman at Irvine and transferred before his sophomore year to Bosco but was ruled athletically ineligible there. "We're going through the eligibility process now," Miller said, "and we believe he will be able to play at least some portion of the (2012) season."

•Laguna Hills senior Alex Salera had a fine 2011-12 athletic year. He rushed for 1,254 yards and was All-Sea View League for the Hawks football team, and scored 88 goals with 32 assists in 18 games for the Laguna Hills lacrosse team this spring.

•Saddleback Valley Christian's boys basketball will play host to a 51-school summer tournament that will be played at Saddleback Valley Christian, Mission Viejo and San Clemente from Wednesday through June 17. Among the schools in it are Brethren Christian, featuring 7-foot-5 Mamdou Ndiaye; Canyon; Capistrano Valley; El Toro; Huntington Beach; Mater Dei (with 6-8 incoming freshman Michael Cage Jr.); Mission Viejo; Ocean View; St. John Bosco of Bellflower; and Villa Park.

•Mater Dei boys basketball player Elijah Brown, a 6-3 guard who will be a senior next school year and is son of Lakers coach Mike Brown, was on the list of expert basketball writer Frank Burlison's players who he thought should have been (but was not) invited to one of the all-star games at last week's Pangos All-American Camp at Cabrillo of Long Beach. Mater Dei junior-to-be Stanley Johnson, 6-6 guard/forward, made Burlison's first team at burlisononbasketball.com.

•Capistrano Valley Christian senior baseball player Jacen Carpenter was a terrific player in CIF-SS playoff games over the past three seasons. He batted over .600, including a team-high two hits in the Eagles' 4-2 loss to Desert Christian of Lancaster in last week's CIF-SS Division 6 championship game that made him 12 for 15 in this year's playoffs, with seven home runs.

•CalHiSports selected its California baseball and softball teams of the year. Vista of San Diego County, CIF-San Diego County Section Division 1 champion, is state baseball team of the year. Norco, CIF-SS Division 1 champion, is state softball team of the year.


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