El Modena's Dillon Keefe gains some ground early in the first half against Brea Olinda on Friday. (MICHAEL KITADA, CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER)

Keefe helps El Modena repeat as league champs


BREA – El Modena earned its second consecutive North Hills League championship Friday, defeating Brea Olinda, 37-24, on the Wildcats’ field.

The Vanguards (9-1, 3-0) didn’t skip a beat in the transition from 2015 coach Ed Drzanek to Matt Mitchell, whose team won its sixth straight game going into next week’s CIF-SS Division 8 playoffs. El Modena is ranked second in the division this week.

El Modena was in command from the start, leading 21-0 in the second quarter and 37-10 late in the third.

Brea Olinda (5-5, 2-1) qualified for the playoffs as the second-place North Hills entry.

El Modena’s Dillon Keefe is best known for his running ability and he had 75 yards on 14 carries, including two 1-yard scoring runs. But it was the 6-foot-1, 190-pound senior’s pass-catching ability that did the most damage to the Wildcats.

He caught five passes for 92 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown reception on a pass from quarterback AJ Esperanza.

Esperanza completed 14 of 17 passes for 176 yards and no interceptions. Esperanza, a 6-foot, 180-pound junior, also had a 43-yard scoring pass to Frankie Islas.

Andrew Carvajal had a 26-yard touchdown run and gained 49 yards on seven carries for El Modena. Islas finished with five receptions for 71 yards.

Brea’s Noah Rivera caught six passes for 149 yards, including a 52-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Dylan Flenniken. Rivera also rushed four times for 17 yards and completed his only pass for 51 yards

Flenniken completed 13 of 26 passes for 197 yards and one interception by Keefe on the final play of the game. Flenniken threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jack Sherman in the fourth quarter and also had a 4-yard scoring run.

El Modena took a 21-0 lead with four minutes remaining in second quarter, but Brea closed the gap to 21-10 by halftime.

The Vanguards put together a well-crafted 60-yard drive on seven plays for their first touchdown, a 1-yard run by Keefe.

Keefe gained 17 yards on three carries and Esperanza mixed in complete passes of 8- and 16-yard gains to Islas and a 6-yarder to Keefe. Esperanza also had a 13-yard run on the drive.

Keefe caught a 14-yard pass from Esperanza on fourth-and-7 for a first down at the Brea 11. Two plays later, Esperanza hooked up with Keefe for a touchdown pass from the 10.

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