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Fryer: Time for midseason evaluations, awards
High school football is as predictable as an earthquake.
Through six weeks of games, though, everyone has a better idea of what’s going on in Orange County football.
What we’ve learned …
The North Hills League is not far behind the Crestview League in terms of quality in that two-league, 10-school Century Conference. League members Canyon and El Modena might be playing each other in the CIF-Southern Section’s Southern Division championship game in December.
The Freeway League is as good, in depth and quality, as it has been in many years. Decades, even.
Tesoro quarterback Devon Modster is a game-planning nightmare for opposing coaches.
Mission Viejo has had more talent in past seasons. Team chemistry, which can overcome many deficiencies, is in abundance.
Small schools football is superb. Three of the county’s small school teams - Brethren Christian, Saddleback Valley Christian and St. Margaret’s - are undefeated, and Crean Lutheran and Capistrano Valley Christian join them in the CIF-SS East Valley Division top 10. These teams would be a solid competitive fit in most of the county’s Southern Division leagues.
San Clemente will go 4-0 in the Sea View League.
All Santa Ana has to do is stay healthy to make a strong run at the Golden West League title.
League play starts almost everywhere this week. This is when county football’s Richter scale really gets moving.
Nonleague play did not reveal much about two undefeated teams: JSerra and Villa Park.
JSerra’s nonleague schedule included five teams the Lions should have beaten by large margins, and did: Cabrillo of Long Beach, Chino Hills, Huntington Beach, Hamilton of Los Angeles, and St. Paul of Santa Fe Springs. None of those is a “they proved how good they are” win for JSerra.
Villa Park’s 5-0 record was compiled against teams the Spartans were expected to beat: La Quinta of La Quinta, Cabrillo, Pomona, El Modena and El Dorado. The win over El Modena was a one-point victory.
We know JSerra and Villa Park are good. But how good?
If we did a halfway-though-the-season All-Orange County team, here is one recommendation on who should be the offensive, defensive and and coach of the year award winners.
Offensive player of the year: Patrick O’Brien, San Juan Hills. The senior quarterback, committed to Nebraska, has completed 77 percent of his passes for 1,724 yards, the second-highest figure in the county (behind Modster) and 15 touchdowns with only one interception. O’Brien has rushed for 352 yards and eight touchdowns, and has that whole “team leader” aura.
Defensive player of the year: Chris Evagues, Tesoro. The senior defensive end isn’t the largest guy on the line, at 6-foot and 225 pounds. What makes him special is his cheetah-like speed in pursuit of quarterbacks and anyone else possessing a football. Evagues has 10 sacks, eight tackles for losses and 28 unassisted tackles.
Coach of the year: This category, more than any of the other awards category, is about league results and playoff accomplishments. There are coaches who have elevated programs to unaccustomedly high levels, like Paul Chiotti at Sonora and Vinnie Lopez at Pacifica. The choice here, though is La Habra’s Frank Mazzotta for getting that team to again match the high expectations.
Modster, O’Brien and Santa Margarita quarterback KJ Costello were teammates as eighth-graders on the Saddleback Valley Wolverines football team. An Arizona commit (Modster), a Nebraska commit (O’Brien) and a Stanford commit (Costello) were on the same eighth-grade team. That probably happens nowhere else in the nation.
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