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The Calhoun Countdown for Week 6
If you didn't already know this, let me help you out: There are no easy nights in the Trinity League. None.
Every week for the next five, teams will look for an edge, probably not find one, but have to make a second-half adjustment - or three - just to survive. Trinity League football takes years off of your life. It is not for kids.
You've been warned.
Now it's Calhoun Countdown time ...
10. Nathan Cole strikes back with a vengeance
Last week, Aliso Niguel's Nathan Cole was four touchdowns off of the pace for the county passing touchdown lead. Heading into this week, Cole is now tied with El Toro's Conner Manning for the lead at 27. How did this happen? Easy. Cole went wild against Woodbridge last week, completing 37 of 48 passes for 491 yards and seven touchdowns. Meanwhile, Manning had an early night against Garden Grove throwing "just" three touchdowns. Now, they're tied as both teams hit league play. This week, El Toro takes on San Clemente and Aliso Niguel gets Dana Hills. Who will throw for more touchdowns this week?
9. Freeway League ... where the Highlanders rule
La Habra had an uneven nonleague season. The Highlanders opened the season on the cusp of the county top 10 at No. 12. They opened with a victory over El Dorado, but then suffered losses to La Mirada, St. Paul and Orange Lutheran before ending with a 32-14 victory over Gahr of Cerritos. Now, La Habra turns its attention to the Freeway League where the Highlanders have dominated, winning 11 titles in the past 13 years. La Habra has won the last five league titles. The Highlanders will kick off their quest for No. 6 in a row Friday against Troy. The Warriors won three of their first four, but suffered a 42-35 loss to Paramount last week. La Habra was the preseason pick to win the league title. Can anybody stop that from happening? We'll see.
Prediction: Look for La Habra to open league with a victory.
8. The Coyotes looking to take the throne
If there is any team in the Freeway League that appears ready to take the throne, it might be Buena Park. The Coyotes stormed out of the gates going 3-0 and outscoring their opponents by a combined score of 160-12. Buena Park suffered a 15-14 loss to JSerra and last week came off of its bye with a 28-7 victory over Westminster. The key for Buena Park has been the running of junior Deven Boston, who has rushed for 1,143 yards and scored 16 touchdowns. Boston is averaging 12.3 yards per carry and 228.6 yards a game. Buena Park opens league against Sonora. The showdown with La Habra is three weeks away.
Prediction: Buena Park starts off league play with a victory.
7. Century League showdown on tap Friday
Villa Park was the pick to win the Century League according the preseason coaches' poll. Foothill was picked to finish second. Now as they head into this epic clash, the Knights are ranked 10th in the county and the Spartans are ranked 12th. This is the type of matchup that deserves a promoter. Villa Park is the two-time defending Century League champion. Foothill is the up-and-coming challenger that has caught the eye of the voters after a 35-28 loss to Tustin earlier this season. Seeing how Tustin is playing, the fact that Foothill was within one score is extremely impressive. Villa Park's lone loss was to Edison, 27-7, on Sept. 6. The Spartans opened league with a 47-13 victory over El Modena. Foothill is 2-0 in league with victories over Esperanza, 38-10, and El Modena, 42-14.
Prediction: Foothill in a squeaker.
6. Will anybody stop the Green and Gold?
Edison went into its three-leg gauntlet run as a team that wasn't getting a lot of attention. The Chargers opened the season with victories over Garfield and Villa Park, two teams they should have defeated. Then Edison took on Servite and won, 6-0. Mater Dei was their next opponent, and the Chargers probably should have won, but lost, 20-14. Last week, Edison concluded the brutal stretch of games with a 31-3 victory over San Clemente. Now, the Chargers, who are ranked fifth in the county, begin Sunset League play Thursday against Newport Harbor. Newport Harbor has been a puzzling team so far. The Sailors dropped their first two games, but then rallied with victories over Corona del Mar and San Clemente. Then they followed that with a 26-14 loss to Mira Costa of Manhattan Beach. What gives? Newport Harbor will find it tough to score against Edison, because the Chargers don't like to give up points. Only Mater Dei has scored in double digits against the Chargers.
Prediction: Edison wins.
5. Conner Manning and El Toro enter South Coast League play
Through six games, El Toro quarterback Conner Manning is putting up some ridiculous numbers. He has completed 68.6 percent of his passes (199 of 290). He has 2,572 yards. He has 27 touchdowns and only one interception. He is averaging 428.7 yards a game. Just some crazy numbers. Now, he leads the Chargers into the South Coast League. First up are the Tritons of San Clemente. In the last two games, San Clemente has been outscored 59-10. El Toro is averaging 50 points a game. Can San Clemente slow down Manning and the Chargers? El Toro has four receivers with at least 30 receptions. Running back Jacob Furnari has rushed for 588 yards. San Clemente will need to find a way to limit Manning's options, which is a tall task.
Prediction: El Toro opens league with a victory.
4. Is Orange Lutheran ready for what's next?
The Lancers, under new coach Chuck Petersen, enter the week 5-0. Orange Lutheran opens league play against St. John Bosco of Bellflower. The Braves had to forfeit four victories due to its use of an ineligible player, but now they're looking at this run as a chance to do it the right way. Bosco is officially 1-4, but a 3-2 or 4-1 league run probably puts them in the playoffs. The Lancers' option offense will be new for their league opponents to deal with, but now comes the big question: Can the Lancers survive in the Trinity League? As long as Big John Lopez is leading the offensive line you have to like the Lancers' chances. OLu has had two weeks to prep for Bosco, so you can probably expect some wrinkles in the OLu offense. Defensively, however, the Lancers will have to contend with a balanced attack from the Braves. Bosco averages 201 passing yards and 189 on the ground. Who passes the first test?
Prediction: St. John Bosco wins.
3. Roar, Lions, roar
This is not the first time that JSerra has emerged from its nonleague schedule 5-0. The Lions haven't won more than two games in the Trinity League, but could it change this year? I went on record last week that JSerra will pull off an upset or two in the Trinity League. (Yep, I really said that. I'm not sure why I said it though). First up for JSerra are the mighty Monarchs from Mater Dei. Mater Dei is coming off of an 18-17 loss to Narbonne of Harbor City. I have no doubt that Mater Dei will be ready after that emotional loss. After a 37-21 victory over Long Beach Wilson in the season opener, JSerra has been in some battles. All four of the Lions' victories since then have been by 10 points or less. Mater Dei will have to contain Casey Eugenio. If he has to, the junior will take over the game. He already has five interceptions on defense and nine offensive touchdowns. So it will be important for the MD quarterbacks to take care of the ball and to get the ground game working.
Prediction: Mater Dei grinds out the victory.
2. Life without Johnny Stanton begins now
Perhaps the biggest question of them all in the Trinity League is whether Santa Margarita can survive without No. 4, Johnny Stanton. With Stanton sidelined after ACL surgery, the Eagles will turn to junior Josh Canty or sophomore Kyle Sweet to steer the way through the Trinity League and Pac-5 Division playoffs. Stanton had already passed for 949 yards with 11 touchdowns and rushed for 386 and eight scores. First up for the Eagles is Servite. The Friars have had an interesting nonleague run. The Friars are 2-3, but they would be 1-4 if they hadn't pulled off a second-half comeback against Rancho Cucamonga. Servite defeated St. Paul, 38-6, last week in the team's final nonleague game. Andrew Moore rushed for 151 yards in the game. Did Servite fix its problems? How long can Santa Margarita hold on without Stanton?
Prediction: Santa Margarita pulls out the victory.
1. My pick for the O.C. player to watch is ...
Ryan Wolpin, Santa Margarita: With the absence of Johnny Stanton, the Eagles will need Ryan Wolpin to continue to deliver the whoopin' on the opposition as they start the maddening journey through the Trinity League. Wolpin has rushed for 728 yards and 15 touchdowns through five games.