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NICK ARGO, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Servite senior quarterback Tyler Lytle attempts a pass during the Trinity League game against Santa Margarita.

Fryer: Much is revealed in final week of regular season

STAFF COLUMNIST

MISSION VIEJO – Servite coach Scott Meyer had a secret.

He knew that if Servite lost to Santa Margarita on Friday night that Servite still had a great chance to qualify for the playoffs.

Meyer did not tell that to the Servite players. He wanted the guys going all-out.

“They think this is a must-win to get in,” Meyer said before the Trinity League game at Saddleback College.

Santa Margarita won, 49-24, and looked good in doing so. The Eagles, who appeared overwhelmed from the start in their 48-21 season-opening loss to Mission Viejo, were so much more sure of themselves Friday.

They are utilizing that speed they have in the backfield, where juniors Chad Magyar, who had 252 rushing yards Friday, and Malone Mataele, who had two long touchdown runs erased by penalties, showed they can break out for a long run at any time. Santa Margarita is fast on defense, too.

Santa Margarita earned a qualifier spot with the win. Servite probably will get into the playoffs, too.

The top three finishers in a six-team league like the Trinity League are “automatic qualifiers” in the parlance of the CIF-Southern Section. Santa Margarita and Orange Lutheran finished 2-3 in league; Santa Margarita is the league’s No. 3 playoff representative because the Eagles beat Orange Lutheran.

Orange Lutheran is the league’s No. 4 team. Servite and JSerra were 1-4 in league. Servite’s win over JSerra makes the Friars the league’s No. 5.

Division 1 has 18 teams in it. It looks like Alemany of Mission Hills and Loyola of Los Angeles are the two teams that won’t be in the 16-team Division 1 playoff bracket.

If so, all six Trinity League teams will be in that Division 1 bracket when it is released Sunday morning.

If any league deserves all of its teams to be in the playoffs, it’s the Trinity League. All six Trinity League teams have been in the state top 25 this season. It’s the best league in Southern California, which is no secret.

Elsewhere under the lights …

• CIF-SS football playoff brackets will be released Sunday and will be available at ocvarsity.com upon release. There are 13 divisions.

• Unlike past seasons, not all of a league’s playoff teams will play in the same playoff division; the Trinity League, for which all playoff teams will be in Division 1, is an exception (just like it is in other ways, but that’s a topic for another day).

• Sunday begins with the posting of at-large teams at 8 a.m. – those will be at ocvarsity,com, too, upon release. Many brackets will have enough automatic qualifiers to fill the 16-team brackets that there will be not room for at-large teams.

• After at-large teams are posted, the brackets are released in bunches: divisions 2, 5 and 9 at 10 a.m.; divisions 3, 6 and 11 at 10:30 a.m.; Division 1 at 11 a.m.; divisions 4, 7 and 12 at 11:30 a.m.; and divisions 8, 10 and 13 at noon.

• Coaches talk about their greatest reward being when former players come back to visit. For Edison coach Dave White’s final Sunset League and regular-season game, 250 of his former players attended the Chargers’ 42-6 win over Huntington Beach. Yeah, maybe Dave White had some positive influence on a couple of guys.

• Among the hotter teams in the county is Valencia. The Tigers were 0-5 in nonleague play, then won four of five Empire League games, including wins over league-favorite Tustin last week and Friday’s win over Cypress. They finished 4-1 in the Empire League to share the league title with Tustin.

• Quarterbacks are supposed to be team leaders. Pacifica quarterback Ben Jefferson’s braces are Pacifica blue. That’s leadership.

• St. Margaret’s beat Crean Lutheran in one of those should-have-been-an-Academy-League games, but it wasn’t since the Academy League disintegrated for football when Sage Hill left to become an 8-man football program. St. Margaret’s was No. 1 in Division 7 before the Tartans lost to Brethren Christian last week.

St. Margaret’s, as a freelance team, which is a team that is not in a league, can qualify for the playoffs only as an at-large team and perhaps there won’t be room for an at-large team in Division 7 – just like there won’t be room for Brethren Christian in Division 10, where there will be no at-large berths available.

• Mater Dei quarterback JT Daniels is having a school and Orange County record-setting year. Daniels’ six touchdown passes Friday against JSerra broke the county single-season touchdowns record. He has 53 in 10 games. Rancho Alamitos’ Nick Brown set the record in 2014 with 52 touchdown passes in 14 games.

• Mission Viejo beat San Clemente, 41-3, to finish the regular season 10-0 and extend its winning streak to 38 games, the third-longest in O.C. football history. Mission Viejo probably will be seeded No. 4 in Division 1.

• The way it looks, there will be nine private-school teams and seven public-school teams in Division 1. There always is the argument that public- and private-school teams should be placed in separate playoff divisions, which is an argument that has much merit. Still, there are three public school teams that could do well in Division 1: Centennial of Corona; Long Beach Poly; and Mission Viejo.

• Santa Ana beat Westminster to win the Golden West League title outright. Santa Ana finished 10-0 overall and 5-0 in league.

• Some might say Santa Ana’s 10-0/5-0 should have an asterisk because Santa Ana lost to Orange, a loss that became a Saints’ forfeit win because Orange used an ineligible player in that game. Considering that just a few years ago Santa Ana was having winless seasons, trash the asterisk and recognize what a great revival it’s been for Santa Ana football.

• El Modena won the North Hills League championship, going 3-0 in league. The Vanguards are 9-1. El Modena’s rise was started when longtime Servite assistant Ed Drzanek became their head coach and continued when Matt Mitchell was promoted to head coach after Drzanek stepped aside to become an El Modena full-time athletic director.

• Four quarterbacks who will get plenty of attention when we select All-Orange County quarterbacks: Daniels; Chase Garbers of Corona del Mar; Matt McDonald of Mission Viejo; and Nick Sipe of Villa Park. Those are not the only high-quality quarterbacks in county football, but they are the four best going into the playoffs.

• O.C. football has four standout small-school quarterbacks, too: Quinn Commans of Whittier Christian; Joey Gutierrez of Brethren Christian; Cade Henjum of Saddleback Valley Christian; and Geroge Krantz of St. Margaret’s.

Contact the writer: sfryer@scng.com


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