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JOSH BARBER , CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER
Mission Viejo's Zack Taylor, Olaijah Griffin, and Jason Lee celebrate after Griffin's second-quarter touchdown against Vista Murrieta during the CIF-SS West Valley Division final on Friday.

Who should be No. 1? Mission Viejo has perfect answer

STAFF WRITER

The chatter rumbled in the background before and after Mission Viejo defended its CIF-SS West Valley title with a 21-14 victory at Vista Murrieta.

The Diablos, ranked second in Orange County, behind Mater Dei, last week, should be No. 1, their supporters argued.

Mission Viejo (14-0) didn’t change its tune Monday when asked about the rankings before the results became official. The Diablos and Mater Dei tied for first in the Register’s final top 10 for the season.

“We haven’t lost a game. Why would we not be (ranked) one?” said Mission Viejo coach Bob Johnson, whose squad plays host to Helix of La Mesa (11-1) in a CIF State I-AA regional Friday.

“I don’t campaign for anything, but you asked me. We’re certainly one. … We play a very good schedule.”

In addition to winning the West Valley and South Coast League titles, Mission Viejo defeated three section champions (La Habra, Oak Hills of Hesperia, Liberty of Bakersfield) in nonleague games.

Johnson said he doesn’t ask his players about the rankings, but the Diablos can make another statement against Helix, which defeated St. Augustine, 44-30, in San Diego’s Open Division final Saturday.

“They’re proud,” Johnson said of the Diablos, who have won 26 consecutive games. “They like playing football. They’re having fun. They want to play.”

Johnson said Mission Viejo will reduce some of its training regiment this week. For example, the Diablos planned not to lift weights Monday and added a team bowling outing.

“We’re just doing smaller stuff,” Johnson said. “We’ll be ready, but (we’ll) have a different format of practice, that’s for sure. … (Helix) is real good. They’re fast.”

MISSION VIEJO NOTES

The Diablos will play Santa Margarita, Long Beach Poly and La Habra in nonleague games next season, Johnson said. …

Junior Colin Schooler had a season-high 33 carries for 154 yards against Vista Murrieta to soften the loss of running back Isaiah Miller (knee), who was hurt in the second round of the playoffs. …

Ivy League teams Princeton, Yale and Columbia watched quarterback Brock Johnson last week at Mission Viejo while Georgetown expressed interest in a home visit this week.

SOMETHING TO PROVE

Saddleback Valley Christian’s motivation is running high as it gets ready for its Division V-A regional against Kennedy of Delano (10-3) at Laguna Hills High on Saturday night.

“We want to kind of show everybody else that this is legit,” SVC coach Brendan Chambers said. “We didn’t get to state just because of a forfeit.

“We deserve to be here and we want to go out and we want to prove that to the community and to CIF.”

The Warriors (14-0) captured the East Valley title Friday after Grace Brethren forfeited because of an ineligible player.

The East Valley final was scheduled to be played Saturday night, but Saddleback Valley Christian instead gathered for a team party at a player’s home.

“It was different,” Chambers said of the mood at the gathering. “Obviously, we were all pretty bummed that we didn’t get to play that game. … (But) we have potentially two more games to make new memories.”

One benefit of the forfeit is that it allowed SVC standouts David Molina (ankle) and Cade Henjum (leg) more time to rest injuries.

TAYLOR STANDS OUT

Centennial of Corona running back JJ Taylor, who played varsity at JSerra as a freshman, starred in the Huskies’ 62-52 victory against St. John Bosco in the Pac-5 final at Angel Stadium on Saturday night.

Before a crowd of 13,599, the 5-foot-6, 165-pound rushed for 269 yards and five touchdowns on 41 carries. He also earned the respect of rival running back Sean McGrew of St. John Bosco, who congratulated him afterward.

“It feels good,” Taylor said of McGrew’s gesture. “I show respect to everybody I play because it’s hard to play high school football. ... This is something that they have to work hard for. You can’t just come out here if you don’t plan on doing something with your future.”

Taylor, who committed to Arizona, said he still has friends at JSerra.

“I know everybody at JSerra,” he said. “I miss all of them. I go down there sometimes, (to) San Juan, to hang out with them.”

Contact the writer: dalbano@ocregister.com


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