Tuesday Blitz: Star in the making at JSerra


Check out OCVarsity's Blitz from Tuesday's football practices round the county:


New leader for Lions: The Lions believe they have found their next big playmaker.

Coach Jim Hartigan pegged defensive back/running back Avery Williams, a transfer from St. Francis of La Canada, as a lock to be an impact player for this year's team.

The senior will be the team's top running back, replacing Edward Vander, who rushed for 1,388 yards and 22 TDs in 2014. Vander transfered back to Paramount this summer after one season at JSerra.

At 5-foot-11, 195-pounds, Williams is a complete back, both a power runner and one that can make defenders miss.


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“I love hitting, I’m a hard-hitter, and I’m a ball hawk,” said Williams, describing his physical style of play.

Hartigan said the team is focused on developing backs who can provide a breather for Williams, but he added that it has not been uncommon for players to start on both sides of the ball.

“The one thing about playing at a high level both ways is you have to be in phenomenal shape and mentally tough to handle it,” Hartigan said. “Even last year, a lot of our guys played both ways.”

Position battle: The Lions have not determined who their starting quarterback will be. The top candidates in camp are sophomore Matthew Robinson and junior Riley O’Brien. Robinson's older brother, Nick, was the Lions' starting QB the past three seasons.

Injury report: Middle linebacker Kyle Adams was seen wearing a cast over his left hand at Monday’s practice. Adams had ligament damage in his thumb due to an injury suffered in 7-on-7 drills this summer. He is expected to be ready for the Lions’ season opener, against Long Beach Cabrillo on Aug. 28.


O-line looking for last piece: There is no question that Santa Margarita’s best chance to win belongs to the right arm of KJ Costello. The Stanford commit threw for 3,123 yards and 23 touchdowns his junior year.

The Eagles will rely heavily on their offensive line to keep their QB upright. Center Tanner Prenovost and left tackle Brett Neilon will lead Santa Margarita’s protection unit.

The question is, who will protect Costello’s blind side?

Juniors Thomas Parker and Chad Matthews have emerged as the frontrunners to take over at left guard.

The other projected starters are Preston Orellana (right tackle) and Tyler Oberholtzer (right guard).


Déja vu: The Sunset League has had quarterbacks that played key roles defensively before.
In 2013, Kai Ross led Huntington Beach to a CIF-SS Southwest Division championship as a quarterback and cornerback.

Fountain Valley has two quarterbacks, and they both will be a starter on defense. Chad Olberding is receiving the majority of the snaps in practice, while Kent Swift is slated to begin the season at wide receiver.

Swift will see time at free safety, and Olberding will also be in the secondary.

Barons co-defensive coordinator Michael Cobleigh knows it is a luxury to have two established quarterbacks that can play on the defensive end.

“You’re counting on both of them to play quarterback,” he said. “It’s tough to put your guys out there every down. It doesn’t happen very often.

“When we have both of those guys in the secondary, we can cover most teams.”

Barnett banged up: Barons running back Dakarai Barnett suffered a torn labrum in the team’s last passing league competition against Lakewood. He is expected to miss six weeks.

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