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, FOSTER SNELL, CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER
Villa Park's Matthew Roach, right, runs with the ball after making a catch as Servite's Kj Trujillo lines up a tackle during a non-league game Friday night.

Fryer: Tough nights will pay off for Villa Park

STAFF COLUMNIST

ORANGE – Villa Park again took on the challenge of playing a Trinity League team.

Again, the results were not pleasant for Villa Park.

The Spartans lost to Servite of the Trinity League, 41-32. Villa Park scored two late touchdowns to make the score close, but Servite took clear control of the game early in the second quarter. It was not as close as that final score would suggest.

Two years ago, Villa Park played the league’s Mater Dei. The Spartans were clobbered, 63-0.

So, Villa Park coach Dusan Ancich, why do it?

“You get to play a team that’s like a team you might play if you go deep into the playoffs,” Ancich said before the game. “You can say, ‘we’ve played a team that’s as talented as this one’ or ‘we’ve played a team as big as this one.’ ”

The 2014 team is not one of Ancich’s favorite Villa Park teams. That happens.

“We were not all that confident about that team that year,” Ancich said. “Mater Dei had just upset Centennial (of Corona) the week before and we played absolutely horrible.”

Villa Park was not horrible Friday. The Spartans are good, but simply ran into a superior team. The week before, Servite lost by one point to De La Salle of Concord, which at the time was the No. 1 team in California.

The Spartans had a 13-10 lead in the first quarter. Then Servite got rolling, and soon it was 31-13.

Villa Park has plenty of time to shake off any sting from Friday’s loss before the Spartans begin play in the Crestview League.

Most teams are closing in on the start of league play. Servite, for example, has its final nonleague game next week before a midseason bye the following week and its Trinity League opener the week after that against St. John Bosco.

Villa Park plays four more nonleague games before its Crestview League opener against Canyon on Oct. 21. The upcoming four nonleague games are against North Hills League teams. As part of the eight-school Century Conference that is divided into the four-team Crestview and North Hills leagues in football, the teams from the two leagues must play each other in cross-conference nonleague games.

The Crestview teams are considered the best teams in the conference. The North Hills are sort of lower-shelf teams. Last year, Villa Park went 4-0 against North Hills teams.

“It’s a weird setup,” Ancich said. “We’ll play four games against teams we’re supposed to beat.”

Villa Park had the best player on the field Friday, linebacker/fullback John Stamos. Stamos, a 6-foot-3, 225-pound senior committed to Navy, shed blocks and plugged holes all night to make tackles, and when he had the ball Servite needed two or three guys to bring him down.

The best player in the county might be Mission Viejo’s Colin Schooler. An ace linebacker and running back, Schooler got the ball when the Diablos needed a sure gain in their 42-14 win over Long Beach Poly. That was a significant win for Mission Viejo. The Diablos are No. 4 in the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 top 10. Poly is No. 7.

The No. 1 team in Division 1, Mater Dei, played like a No. 1 team should. The Monarchs crushed Upland, 62-7.

Everybody is excited about Mater Dei quarterback JT Daniels, the St. Brown brothers at receiver and their offense that is averaging 58 points a game. But that defense has been fabulous, too, allowing only 21 points over four games.

Mater Dei’s win was one of several blowouts Friday. Santa Margarita continued its weekly improvement with a 49-8 win over Westlake. Capistrano Valley cruised to a 52-6 win over Esperanza. And Corona del Mar handled Newport Harbor, 41-13.

The Corona del Mar win in the “Battle of the Bay” is the Sea Kings’ fourth in a row in the series, their longest streak against Newport Harbor since the 1980s. It’s the first time they have won four in a row over Newport Harbor since the 1980s.

Orange County has some great quarterbacks this season. Daniels at Mater Dei, Matt McDonald at Mission Viejo are off to great starts. Corona del Mar’s Chase Garbers is going to be in the discussion when the All-Orange County team is selected, and the thinking here is that when Garbers is done at Cal he just might be a better prospect than last year’s Cal quarterback, Jared Goff whom the Rams drafted in the first round this past spring.

These nonleague games are all about getting ready for league. In 2014, when Villa Park took that big beating from Mater Dei, Villa Park went undefeated in the Crestview League to win the league championship. The Spartans advanced to the second round of the playoffs

Will Friday’s game help them do as well, or even better?

“What the results of this will be,” Ancich said, “we’ll see.”

Contact the writer: sfryer@scng.com


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