El Toro leads O.C. teams at 7Sevens tournament
LAKE FOREST — A high school football coach might have any number of agendas in passing league competitions aside from winning. El Toro’s Robert Frith says the bottom line for him was no different than usual in Saturday’s Under Armour 7Sevens tournament at El Toro High.
“In a situation like this, we want to get better, but we want to win,” Firth said. “We’re here to win every single game.”
The Chargers, led by quarterback Conner Manning, rewarded their coach’s competitiveness by advancing to the semifinals, the furthest of any county school in the 24-team pool. It was also the furthest they had advanced in a passing league during Frith’s four-year tenure.
El Toro, which joins the South Coast League and Pac-5 Division this season, finished 4-2 and beat a pair of potential playoff foes in St. John Bosco and Santa Margarita of the Trinity League. The Chargers were eliminated by Hart, which beat Serra in the finals.
“Winning some games against some programs that are very good is always a morale booster for your kids,” Frith said. “The kids know. They talk. They’re going to be very proud. Out of 24 teams, we made the final four. I’m very happy.”
Santa Margarita won four games, its lone defeat coming to El Toro. Eagles coach Harry Welch lamented his team’s execution but called the passing league a “productive day.” Welch said quarterback Johnny Stanton had a good day, not a great one, which he deemed an aberration.
“Just a little less than I expected from him,” Welch said. “I think he’s a much better quarterback and athlete than he was when he led us to the state championship. If he continues to make these kinds of adjustments and improvements, the sky’s the limit for him.
“We keep raising the bar — his arm strength, his recognition of defenses, his comfort with our pass offense, he’s bigger, stronger and faster.”
Welch said Wisconsin's recent scholarship offer put the Badgers among Stanton’s top choices.
“Wisconsin, Nebraska, Oregon and Oregon State, those four are the ones that I think are at the top,” Welch said.
Servite junior quarterback Neil Pauu (6-4, 206) recently earned (and committed to) a scholarship offer from BYU. That doesn’t mean he’s already earned the Friars’ starting job. Servite coach Troy Thomas said Pauu and sophomore Travis Waller (6-3, 180), who split reps throughout the tournament, are about even.
“I think he (Pauu) can be a great quarterback,” Thomas said. “But I also think Travis Waller can be a great quarterback. They're Division 1 athletes. They're both really young. They're going to change a ton in the next two or three years.
“Eventually one of them will become the guy. That’s what we’re ultimately looking for. I think both of them can play other positions. It’s gone back and forth. One guy was ahead, then the other guy was ahead, then the other guy battled back. It’s still up in the air.
Servite went 3-2 in what was its first passing league this summer.