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El Toro's Manning sets O.C. passing record
EL CAJON - Coming into Friday's game against Valhalla, El Toro's Conner Manning already was having an impressive season. Against the Norsemen, Manning had a performance even his NFL namesakes would be jealous of.
At Valhalla High, Manning completed 44 of 58 passes for 613 yards — a new county record — and seven touchdowns to lead No. 6 El Toro to a 77-46 nonleague victory against the Norsemen (2-2). Manning scored an eighth touchdown on the ground. (Editor's note: Manning was originally credited with 600 yards passing, but El Toro now claims that he officially passed for 613 yards. This change came after reviewing a tape of the game.)
"It's the best (performance) I've seen," Chargers coach Rob Frith said. "He is our leader, and he came here tonight to play. That is an excellent Valhalla football team, but tonight was Conner's night, and he had a good supporting cast as well."
The game was wild from the start. After sprinting out to a 14-0 lead, it appeared as if El Toro was going to cruise to an easy victory. Valhalla had other plans in mind and crawled back to a point, 28-27, of the Chargers.
Every time Norseman quarterback Ramsey Romano showed off his arm and athleticism, Manning came back with a response of his own. Manning's four first-half touchdown passes, including three to wide receiver Cody White, had the Chargers on top, 42-33, at the break.
"I've never seen anything like (the first half) before," Frith said. "It was exciting, nerve-racking, but that's high school football."
Manning wouldn't have had the success he did without the help of his wide receivers. White finished with 11 receptions for 166 yards and four touchdowns. Dominic Collins was the most impressive wide receiver on the field, though. Collins was Manning's go-to target and it showed in the final stats as he finished with 17 catches for 234 yards and two touchdowns.
"We had maybe two drops at the end," Manning said about his sure-handed receivers. "But I was just throwing it to them, and they were making plays. My line was giving me time, too."
The time allowed him to break the single-game passing mark of 564 yards, set in 1996 by Bolsa Grande's Doug Baughman.
Even though El Toro's defense gave up 46 points, its timely stops in the second half helped create some separation from Valhalla. The Chargers intercepted three Norsemen passes in the second half.
The biggest interception came from Joseph Moscatiello, who picked off Romano when it seemed as if Valhalla was going to bring the game to within 10 points.
Moscatiello picked off the pass and three plays later Manning found White for a 37-yard touchdown to put the game out of reach.
El Toro will try to improve to 6-0 next week when it takes on Garden Grove.