Fryer: Look ahead shows Mater Dei on top in two sports


The final high school sports column of the 2014-15 high school sports year starts with a look ahead to the 2015-16 high school sports year.

The super-early football preseason top 10, super-subject to change between now and when our 2015 football preview is published in August, goes like this …

1. Mater Dei (9-3 in 2014): The Monarchs have been excellent in passing tournaments this spring.

2. Santa Margarita (6-5): Quarterback KJ Costello has a great group of receivers coming back in the fall.

3. Mission Viejo (12-2): The Diablos won the West Valley Division championship last season and might be better this coming season, which will be quarterback Brock Johnson’s senior year.

4. JSerra (10-2): The Lions made all sorts of school football history in 2014, and considering their freshman team was 10-0 in ’14, this fall could be just as good for them.

5. San Clemente (12-2): Replacing quarterback Sam Darnold is impossible, but with nine All-Sea View League players returning, another fine season is very possible.

7. Los Alamitos (9-2): Quarterback Jack Telenko will be back for his senior year and working behind one of the county’s better offensive lines.

8. Orange Lutheran (4-6): The Lancers, with playmaking quarterback LJ Northington back, should be one of the county’s more improved teams.

9. Edison (7-4): The Chargers have been impressive in the passing tournament action, but what they do best is the blocking and tackling that makes a difference during the real season.

10. Tesoro (9-3): Titans quarterback Devon Modster will be one of the more exciting players in county football.

Continuing to look back and forward in Orange County high school sports:

• A super-super early boys basketball preseason top 10, super-super subject to change: 1. Mater Dei; 2. Santa Margarita; 3. Orange Lutheran; 4. Tesoro; 5. Servite; 6. Los Alamitos; 7. Yorba Linda; 8. Ocean View; 9. El Dorado. 10. Foothill. Defending CIF champs Canyon and Sonora are not on that list, which the coaches of both teams will enjoy.

• According to Daffy Duck, “Swimming is for losers who can’t afford boats.” Daffy is wrong. Edison’s Thomas Smith is a winner, swimming past cancer and competitors to be named Sunset League swimmer of the year for the third straight season.

• Santa Margarita’s Katie McLaughlin set the national high school record in the 100 butterfly and was the county swimmer of the year for the second year in a row.

• It will be interesting to see what natural-turf fields look like next year if this drought continues.

Liam Cronin of Servite is built like a jockey. He is as strong as a horse. Cronin won the CIF State championship this year at 106 pounds.

• Woodbridge was known for years as one of the county’s better schools for long-distance runners. The Warriors broke the mold this year with a group of great sprinters who led the team to a CIF-SS track and field championship.

• Tesoro’s Amanda Gehrich continued the county’s rich tradition of excellence in girls distance running. She won the 1,600 and 3,200 meters in the county championships and in the CIF-SS Division 2 finals.

• It’s true that the better tennis programs often are in the county’s coastal communities. But there are some excellent tennis being played elsewhere. Valencia was a CIF champion in boys tennis.

• Mission Viejo softball pitcher Taylor McQuillin has a split personality. On the field, she is so mean she doesn’t let other kids hit the ball – 389 strikeouts. Off the field, she is just another sweet and funny kid.

• Her Mission Viejo teammate, Alyssa Palomino, is the same way. She is nice to everyone, except opposing pitchers. She swatted 58 career home runs.

Clay Feagler of Dana Hills was a CIF-SS individual golf champion. He’s just a junior.

• Another junior who is in the I-can’t-believe-he’s-still-just-a-junior category is Brea Olinda’s Austin Tamagno. He won the 1,600 in the CIF State meet just like he said he would. The county has had some outstanding distance runners for decades, and Tamagno is going to be among the most elite of them when he finishes high school.

• If you’re watching the NHL playoffs you’ve heard a lot about the importance of winning face-offs. That’s important in lacrosse, too. St. Margaret’s senior Ryan Harnisch won 78 percent of his face-offs this year and was county player of the year for the second time in three years.

• Big-time players play their best in big-time games. Girls lacrosse player of the year Julia Taylor of Foothill scored two goals with two assists as the Knights beat Redondo in the section championship game.

• Mater Dei’s boys and girls basketball teams had unfulfilling years, according to their Everest-high standards, but they had excellent years by everyone else’s standards. The boys team got to the CIF-SS Open Division semifinals and to the state Open Division final. The girls lost, by one point, in the CIF-SS Open Division championship game and lost by seven points in the state Open Division final.

• Base coaches in baseball and softball had to wear helmets for the first time this season. It was stated at a CIF-SS Council meeting that the helmet rule is deterring women from becoming coaches because of a helmet’s effects on hair. If you’re that concerned about your hair that it would keep you from coaching, then your heart’s not into coaching.

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