Cypress ‘feels great’ about earning share of league title with win over Kennedy

ANAHEIM — An opportunity to go unbeaten in the Empire League in consecutive seasons was squandered by Cypress last week when it lost to Pacifica.

The Centurions (4-1, 4-1) made sure to end this season on a winning note as they recorded a 31-8 victory over Kennedy on Thursday night at Western High.

Cypress coach Rick Feldman said he started 10 underclassmen on offense in the season finale and was grateful to send his seniors off with at least a share of the Empire League title in back-to-back seasons.

“We lost a lot (of players), so we didn’t know what it was gonna be like coming back (this season), but they just picked up where our defense left off last year,” Feldman said. “It feels great to win league twice in a row, at least get a share of it this second year.”

Junior quarterback Dylan Eldredge threw for 246 yards and three touchdowns and sophomore Matthew Morrell caught seven passes for 207 yards and a pair of touchdowns to lead the Centurions.

Cypress only needed three plays to open the scoring as Eldredge hit Morrell with a beautifully timed pass in stride for a 46-yard strike and a 7-0 lead.

Kennedy (1-4, 1-4) countered when Alex Herrera hit Hunter Benton for a 40-yard pass that gave the Fighting Irish first-and-goal at the Cypress 9. Benton finished with seven catches and 129 yards.

The Centurions kept Kennedy out of the end zone on the next three plays and when Richard Celis lined up for a 22-yard field goal, Muhammed Hassouneh blocked that attempt to keep them off the scoreboard entirely.

Tomas Ramirez scored on a 10-yard jet sweep in the second quarter to double Cypress’ lead, 14-0.

The Centurions made it 21-0 when Eldredge found Morrell for a 58-yard touchdown pass on a trick play.

In the third quarter Devin Cobb scored on an 8-yard reception from Eldredge and a blocked punt helped set up a 28-yard field goal by Michael Lajos to make it 31-0.

Feldman credited his staff, especially defensive coordinator Jeff Crooks, with constructing a successful game plan that held the Fighting Irish to eight points, which game on a fourth-quarter TD catch by AJ Frieson.

“He dials up great game plans and gets them fired up and ready to go every week as well,” Feldman said of Crooks.

Seniors Ryan Alamo, Michael Bygrave and Jake Ruiz helped anchor the defensive effort against Kennedy’s running game, and Alamo was also in on a couple of sacks of quarterback Alex Herrera, who was replaced in the second half by Kaos Devinney.

Powered by WPeMatico

Pacifica finishes strong, earns share of league title with rout of Crean Lutheran

GARDEN GROVE — Had there been a postseason to look forward to, Pacifica football coach Vinnie Lopez said he would have liked his team’s chances.

Lopez was feeling particularly confident after his Mariners finished their season by defeating Crean Lutheran, 52-27, Thursday at Bolsa Grande High School to earn a share of the Empire League title.

The victory was the third in a row for the Mariners (4-2, 4-1), who defeated Cypress, 26-21, last week and Valencia 36-13 on April 2. Because the season started so late, there are no CIF-SS playoffs this season.

“We’re playing our best football right now,” Lopez said. “Every week, I saw improvement in the guys. They just played fantastic football the past couple of weeks.”

The Mariners, ranked No. 25 in Orange County, will share the Empire League championship with No. 23 Cypress (4-1, 4-1), which defeated Kennedy 31-8 on on Thursday.

If Tustin (3-2, 3-1) defeats Valencia on Friday, the Tillers, Mariners and Centurions would finish in a three-way tie for first.

“It’s kind of disappointing that the season ends,” Lopez said. “But winning a league championship is hard, so shout out to these guys and everything they’ve done. It’s been a fantastic year.”

A trio of skill position players, who are all returning next year, capped their season with fantastic performances Thursday.

Sophomore quarterback Darius Cowens completed 14 of 20 passes for 181 yards and three touchdowns. But Cowens covered more ground with his feet, rushing 13 times for 262 yards and a 69-yard touchdown.

Sophomore Jeremiah Ingram had a 49-yard punt return for a touchdown, which gave Pacifica a 6-0 lead in the first quarter, and added a 54-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter.

Freshman Jordan Ross had six receptions for 129 yards, with touchdown catches of 56 and 51 yards.

Ross also had a 60-yard interception return for a touchdown which gave the Mariners a 12-0 lead in the first quarter.

With such young playmakers and losing only three seniors on offense and three on defenses, Lopez said he is optimistic about next season.

The Mariners led 40-7 heading into the fourth quarter when the Saints (2-4, 1-4) put on a late surge, scoring 20 points in the fourth quarter, with the three scores coming on touchdown passes from quarterback Gavin Rogers.

The sophomore quarterback threw for 231 yards and four touchdowns.

Powered by WPeMatico

Yorba Linda rallies to beat El Modena with final-play field goal by Hunter Kennedy

ORANGE – Yorba Linda stayed unbeaten by capping a fierce second-half comeback with Hunter Kennedy’s 27-yard field goal as time expired for a 17-14 win over El Modena on Friday night at Fred Kelly Stadium.

The Vanguards called back-to-back timeouts to try to rattle Kennedy’s confidence, but it didn’t work. Yorba Linda coach Jeff Bailey said he appreciated the gamesmanship by his counterpart, El Modena coach Matt Mitchell.

“This is the night I expected from Hunter the whole season,” Bailey said, “and our kids work hard on it, just the pressure situations and the freezes. It’s kinda fun and it’s neat for the kids.”

With his team down 14-0 at the half, Bailey challenged the Mustangs (5-0, 2-0) to rise to the occasion and they did.

Yorba Linda 17, El Modena 14. Hunter Kennedy wins it as time expires!! pic.twitter.com/HtiZLORMeE

— David Delgado🇪🇨 (@DavidDelgado_OC) April 10, 2021

“At halftime we talked about getting punched in the mouth and how you respond,” Bailey said. “This little group doesn’t like to lose and I’m real proud of them tonight.”

By winning, Yorba Linda will finish its season next week playing Villa Park with the Crestview League championship on the line.

Yorba Linda running back Ethan Pocci gained 89 of his game-high 111 yards in the second half Friday, and his touchdown run with 8:44 left in the fourth tied the game, 14-14.

El Modena (3-2, 0-2) got first-half touchdowns from Nick Mascaro and Sam Astor but wasn’t able to get on the scoreboard during the final 24 minutes of play.

The Vanguards took advantage of a muffed punt return and Emilio Spadaro came up with the loose ball. A few plays later Jack Keays threw a perfectly timed pass to Mascaro for a 28-yard score to give El Modena a 7-0 lead.

Late in the second quarter, the Mustangs drove to the Vanguards 1-yard line but their defense came up with a goal-line stand, keeping Pocci out of the end zone after a penalty pushed Yorba Linda back to the 6.

“We jumped offsides on the one-inch line and then end up giving up a wacky play for a 14-point turnaround,” Bailey said.

That “wacky” play by El Modena was a double-pass from Keays to Mayson Hitchens who fired a pass to Sam Astor that was underthrown and looked like it would be intercepted. Instead, a pair of Mustangs defenders were unable to pick it off despite a deflection. Astor’s concentration on the ball helped him secure a 46-yard touchdown catch that gave the Vanguards a two-touchdown advantage heading to the break.

Yorba Linda RB Ethan Pocci thanks his offensive line for helping him gain 111 yards and a TD in a 17-14 win over El Modena. All eyes on the Villa Park game now. @ocvarsity @ylhsfootball @EthanPocci @coachbailey_yl @LucasRoncevich @CoachCardonaOL pic.twitter.com/BGuVfrgAPQ

— David Delgado🇪🇨 (@DavidDelgado_OC) April 10, 2021

The Mustangs went on a 72-yard drive and scored on their first possession of the second half as Pocci and Chase Jones were the catalysts behind that drive. Jones’ 26-yard catch from Reyn Beal cut the El Modena lead in half.

Yorba Linda’s defense came up with a crucial stop in the fourth quarter as the Vanguards got to the Mustangs 39, but a tackle for a loss and a sack on the next two plays forced a punt.

With 1:23 left in the game, Beal threw quick passes to Jones and JJ Conrad to get in field goal range. Conrad’s 15-yard catch at the El Modena 30 was followed by a pass interference penalty that gave Kennedy a great look at the game-winning attempt.

Yorba Linda kicker Hunter Kennedy talks about his game-winning FG over El Mo. The Mustangs remain unbeaten and face Villa Park next week for the Crestview League title. @ocvarsity @ylhsfootball pic.twitter.com/ZMJJwt58bG

— David Delgado🇪🇨 (@DavidDelgado_OC) April 10, 2021

 

Powered by WPeMatico

Fryer: Not the prettiest Mater Dei-Servite football game, but still special

It wasn’t the smoothest Mater Dei-Servite football game. There were too many penalties for that.

But it was a heck of a battle, which is what a Mater Dei-Servite game should be.

It had what we’ve seen in these games for decades: the fierce, hand-to-hand combat along the interior lines, the body-slam tackles, the three-dimensional chess strategy match between the coaching staffs, and in Saturday night’s edition of the great rivalry an entertaining duel between a great receiver and a great cornerback.

And considering that not so long ago it looked like we might not have any high school football, Mater Dei vs. Servite or otherwise, being at this game, a 24-17 Mater Dei win at Santa Ana Stadium, was like getting an extra Christmas.

“What you saw tonight was a classic Mater Dei-Servite game,” said Mater Dei coach Bruce Rollinson who has coached in these games since the late 1980s and played in a couple of them in the 1960s. “Two great defenses going toe to toe. I knew (Servite’s) defense was good, but I tell you what, we’re pretty good up front. (Servite) had some nice schemes and as fast as we’d adjust they’d adjust.”

Although making those adjustments took up much of his concentration Rollinson still paid fan-like attention to the receiver-cornerback duel of Servite’s 6-foot-4 junior receiver, Tetairoa McMillan, and Mater Dei’s 6-2 cornerback, Domani Jackson.

“I thought the battle between Domani Jackson and ‘TMac’ was, ya know … that’s what you come to high school football games for,” Rollinson said.

Servite coach Troy Thomas of course was disappointed. Very few teams in California are capable of beating Mater Dei. Thomas knew that his team was one of those very few.

Thomas was pleased with the level of effort the Friars delivered Saturday and, like Rollinson, was grateful to again be involved in the great Mater Dei-Servite rivalry and coach in a game featuring outstanding athletes playing at the highest level of high school football in the nation. That is Trinity League football when it is at its best.

Too many Trinity League games have been one-sided the past couple of years, with a large gap between the teams in the top half of the league and its bottom half. Win or lose, Thomas would prefer more games like Saturday’s.

“This is how it should be, the wars that used to be in this league,” Thomas said. “These games. The Trinity League. That’s what’s fun about this league.”

Some thoughts on Mater Dei-Servite …

• Mater Dei-Servite games often have a ton of penalties in them. Saturday’s game was more of the same. The final numbers: Mater Dei 22 penalties for 201 yards and Servite eight penalties for 102 penalty yards. Rollinson would later say, “The penalties? I don’t know. What can I say? I think we might have set a world record.”

• A few of those Mater Dei penalties were pass interference calls on Monarchs defensive backs trying to keep McMillan from catching the ball. “TMac” as they call him is a great athlete. He was one of Servite’s better basketball players last season but with these seasons overlapping more than usual McMillan is exclusively playing football, which is where his sports future lies.

• The National Federation of High School Sports Associations makes the rules (with plenty of input from coaches etc.) for high school football. A rule that should be evaluated for possible change is that in high school football a pass interference penalty can be called even if the pass sails obviously out of reach of the receiver. Several of Saturday’s pass interference calls, most of them against Mater Dei, were uncatchable balls.

• McMillan’s second-quarter touchdown catch was a good example. Servite quarterback Noah Fifita, rolling out to his right, side-armed a fastball that McMillan caught at the Mater Dei 10-yard line where McMillan dodged one Mater Dei tackler then carried another the final 2 yards into the end zone that cut the Mater Dei lead to 14-10.

• Mater Dei junior defensive back Cameron Sidney was in the right place at the right time on the first play from scrimmage. Sidney did not have to move far to pick off Fifita’s throw, snagging the ball at the Servite 22-yard line and taking it into the end zone for a 7-0 Mater Dei lead only six seconds into the game.

• Mater Dei did not run its first offensive play until the 5:17 mark of the first quarter. On Servite’s post-interception possession a Friars punt bounced into the Mater Dei punt returner and Servite’s Jack Kane recovered it at the Mater Dei 37. The Friars then maneuvered to the Mater Dei 9 where the drive died, leaving Servite to get a 26-yard field goal by Cash McVay to trim the Monarchs lead to 7-3.

• That Sidney game-opening interception return for a touchdown could be considered the play of the game, given it was decided by one touchdown. Another big play happened late in the first half when Mater Dei was looking at fourth-and-3 at the Servite 41-yard line. Mater Dei freshman quarterback Elijah Brown passed to receiver CJ Williams for 39 yards and a first down at the Servite 2, and the next play running back Raleek Brown ran it in for a touchdown and a 21-10 lead that would be the biggest lead of the game.

• Servite running back Kyle Bandy was a busy guy. In the first half alone he had 18 carries for 70 yards. During one second-quarter possession Bandy carried the ball on eight consecutive plays.

• Servite’s wild student section, “The Asylum” as it is called, was at the game. Most chose semi-formal attire, which for “The Asylum” is a long-sleeved white dress shirt, untucked, with thin black tie. The guys did a fine job singing along to John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” that was a hit before their parents met … or maybe before most of their parents were born.

• Raesjon Davis is the highly-rated linebacker at Mater Dei. The USC-signed senior deserves the attention. Just as impressive Saturday was Monarchs junior linebacker David Bailey (6-5, 226) who looked great in his season debut, having missed the Monarchs’ first games because of injury. He recorded two sacks.

Powered by WPeMatico

Santa Ana finds room for improvement after beating Estancia

SANTA ANA – Santa Ana coach Charlie Tegantvoort said that, in his opinion, the only team that can beat Santa Ana is Santa Ana.

On a night when they honored the team’s seniors, the Saints defeated Estanica 37-6 in an Orange Coast League game on Friday at Santa Ana Stadium, but the players weren’t satisfied with the victory after drawing over 100 yards in penalties.

“We had some good players making some good plays,” Tegantvoort said. “But we expect great players making great plays. We’re happy for the win and we’re happy to honor our seniors, but that’s not who we are. We want to be perfect and we are going to fight to get better.”

Postgame interview with Santa Ana coach Charlie Tegantvoort. The Saints will take the win, but they will need to clean up the penalties and mistakes if they plan to stay in the Orange Coast League Championship race.@ocvarsity @SantaAnaSaints pic.twitter.com/EzurD4N1W9

— Manny Alvarez (@MAlvarez02) April 3, 2021

Santa Ana (4-0) scored 21 points in the first quarter, including two touchdown passes from quarterback Angel Vega and a touchdown run from Jason Costa.

Costa added another score before the first half ended, but he left the game with an injury in the third quarter and didn’t return. Costa rushed for 93 yards on 19 carries with the two scores and had an interception.

With Costa on the sideline, Raul Alvarez and Dominic Madrid filled his role.  Alvarez rushed for 53 yards on seven carries and Madrid rushed for 110 yards on 12 carries with a touchdown.

“It felt like he never got out (of the game),” Vega said “The next back had the same production with the same yards.”

Go Saints❤⚜https://t.co/9il8l5R2UP

— Jason Costa (@Jason_Costa157) April 3, 2021

Estancia (1-3) got on the scoreboard late in the second quarter thanks to a 19-yard field goal from Freddy Guzman. Guzman added another field goal from 35 yards out in the fourth quarter.

Vega was 12 of 17 passing for 184 yards and two touchdowns. Anthony Gomez caught six passes for 83 yards and a score for the Saints.

Eagles quarterback Lucas Pacheco was 10 of 23 passing for 72 yards and two interceptions while he also rushed for 65 yards on 12 carries to go along with eight tackles on defense.

Noah Aires had eight tackles and an interception for Estancia.

The Saints will take on host Costa Mesa on Friday, April 9. Estancia will host Laguna Beach on the same night.

“We have to fix our little mistakes,” Costa said. “We have to focus on us, with our keys and our jobs. We just have to execute.”

Powered by WPeMatico

Rancho Alamitos overpowers Santiago, takes control of league race

GARDEN GROVE – The message from the Rancho Alamitos football team was simple: It is not going to share the Garden Grove League title this season.

The Vaqueros made that clear Thursday night.

Jacob Castro utilized all of his weapons as he threw three touchdown passes and led Rancho Alamitos to a 53-20 victory over Santiago in a Garden Grove League game on Thursday at Garden Grove High School.

The victory was revenge for last season’s 27-0 loss to Santiago which led to a three-way tie, along with Loara, for the league title.

“Our kids don’t want to share it (the league title) anymore,” Rancho Alamitos coach Mike Enright said. “They don’t want anyone else taking a piece of that pie. We still have work to do. We still have Los Amigos and Bolsa Grande. They’re going to come out firing and they want to knock us off, but our kids tonight came out focused and disciplined and they played really well.”


Kennedy’s Oye Akerele. (Photo by Manny Alvarez)

Rancho Alamitos (4-0) scored the game’s first 27 points, including a pair of rushing touchdowns from Oye Akerele.

Santiago (1-2) cut the lead to 20 points with a 9-yard touchdown run by Derrick Martin, but the Vaqueros returned scored again before halftime with a 9-yard touchdown catch by Seymore Brown III, his second score of the half.

Rancho Alamitos added two scores in the third quarter, from Castro and Stephan Monge, to keep the game out of reach for the Cavaliers.

Castro was 13 of 18 passing for 232 yards and three touchdowns. Stephan Monge caught three passes for 70 yards and a score to go along with two interceptions on defense, and Brown caught three passes for 56 yards and a score. He added seven carries for 69 yards and a touchdown.

“We just had to read the defense,” Castro said. “We had to be ourselves. We have to come back and win that league title with the two games we have left. This was big. We knew this was going to be a dogfight.”

Martin led the Cavaliers with 173 yards on 27 carries and two touchdowns while Isaac Hernandez led Santiago with nine tackles.

Rancho Alamitos will take on Los Amigos at Garden Grove High on Friday, April 9. Santiago plays Bolsa Grande on Thursday, April 8 on the same field.

“We have to stay disciplined,” Akerele said. “No flags, no penalties. We don’t want those. We have to keep blocking on offense and we have to keep closing them down on defense. We have to keep them at bay.

“We can do this again. We can score 53 again.”

Powered by WPeMatico

Orange County football schedule for Friday and Saturday games, April 2-3

FOOTBALL SCHEDULE

FRIDAY, APRIL 2

Sunny Hills vs. Sonora at La Habra High

Troy at Fullerton

Beckman at Portola

Inglewood at Irvine

Tustin vs. Cypress at Western High

Ocean View at Laguna Beach

La Habra at Buena Park

Tesoro at Mission Viejo

Capistrano Valley at El Toro

Century vs. Savanna at Glover Stadium

San Clemente at San Juan Hills

Garden Grove vs. Marina at Westminster High

Los Alamitos at Huntington Beach

Dana Hills at Laguna Hills

Los Amigos vs. La Quinta at Bolsa Grande High

Trabuco Hills at Aliso Niguel

Villa Park at El Modena

Magnolia at Santa Ana Valley

Corona del Mar at Newport Harbor

Edison vs. Fountain Valley at Ocean View High

Canyon at Brea Olinda

Estancia vs. Santa Ana at Santa Ana Stadium

Esperanza vs. El Dorado at Valencia High

Foothill at Yorba Linda

8-man football

Fairmont Prep vs. Fairmont SJC at Vista Hermosa Sports Park, 1 p.m.

SATURDAY, APRIL 3

JSerra at St. John Bosco, 1 p.m.

Mater Dei vs. Servite at Santa Ana Stadium, 7 p.m.

Anaheim at Western

Powered by WPeMatico

Whicker: Another opponent disappears into USC’s zone of doom

  • Isaiah White #5 of the USC Trojans reacts in the second half of their Sweet Sixteen round game against in the USC Trojans the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 28, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

  • Oregon guard Chris Duarte (5) passes around Southern California guard Ethan Anderson, left, during the second half of a Sweet 16 game in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Sunday, March 28, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

  • Oregon guard LJ Figueroa, right, passes around Southern California forward Isaiah Mobley (3) during the second half of a Sweet 16 game in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Sunday, March 28, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

  • Southern California forward Isaiah Mobley (3) drives up court ahead of Oregon forward Chandler Lawson, right, during the second half of a Sweet 16 game in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Sunday, March 28, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

  • Southern California guard Isaiah White (5) drives to the basket past Oregon forward Eugene Omoruyi (2) during the second half of a Sweet 16 game in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Sunday, March 28, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

  • Oregon forward Eugene Omoruyi, left, fights for a rebound with Southern California forward Isaiah Mobley (3) during the second half of a Sweet 16 game in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Sunday, March 28, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

  • Oregon forward Eugene Omoruyi, right, eyes a loose ball in front of Southern California forward Isaiah Mobley (3) during the second half of a Sweet 16 game in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Sunday, March 28, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

  • Oregon guard Chris Duarte (5) shoots over Southern California forward Isaiah Mobley (3) during the second half of a Sweet 16 game in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Sunday, March 28, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

  • Oregon guard Chris Duarte, center, shoots between Southern California guard Isaiah White, left, and forward Evan Mobley, right, during the second half of a Sweet 16 game in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Sunday, March 28, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

  • Oregon guard Will Richardson drives ahead of Southern California guard Drew Peterson (13) during the second half of a Sweet 16 game in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Sunday, March 28, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

  • Southern California forward Isaiah Mobley shoots over Oregon guard Will Richardson (0) during the second half of a Sweet 16 game in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Sunday, March 28, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

  • Oregon guard Will Richardson drives to the basket ahead of Southern California guard Drew Peterson, left, during the second half of a Sweet 16 game in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Sunday, March 28, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

  • Southern California guard Tahj Eaddy shoots over Oregon forward Eugene Omoruyi (2) during the second half of a Sweet 16 game in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Sunday, March 28, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

  • Southern California guard Tahj Eaddy (2) drives between Oregon guard LJ Figueroa, left, and guard Will Richardson, right, during the first half of a Sweet 16 game in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Sunday, March 28, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

  • Oregon head coach Dana Altman watches from the bench during the first half of a Sweet 16 game against Southern California in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Sunday, March 28, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

  • Oregon guard LJ Figueroa (12) shoots over Southern California guard Isaiah White, left, during the first half of a Sweet 16 game in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Sunday, March 28, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

  • Oregon forward Eugene Omoruyi, center, fights for a rebound with Southern California forward Isaiah Mobley (3) and forward Chevez Goodwin (1) during the first half of a Sweet 16 game in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Sunday, March 28, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

  • Southern California guard Tahj Eaddy drives to the basket ahead of Oregon center Franck Kepnang, left, during the first half of a Sweet 16 game in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Sunday, March 28, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

  • Isaiah White #5 of the USC Trojans reacts to a play against the Oregon Ducks in the second half of their Sweet Sixteen round game of the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 28, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

  • Southern California forward Isaiah Mobley (3) shoots over Oregon forward Eugene Omoruyi (2) during the first half of a Sweet 16 game in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Sunday, March 28, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

  • Oregon guard Will Richardson, right, drives up court in front of Southern California guard Tahj Eaddy (2) during the first half of a Sweet 16 game in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Sunday, March 28, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

  • Southern California forward Isaiah Mobley (3) drives to the basket ahead of Oregon forward Eric Williams Jr., left, during the first half of a Sweet 16 game in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Sunday, March 28, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

  • Southern California guard Isaiah White (5) shoots over Oregon guard Will Richardson (0) during the first half of a Sweet 16 game in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Sunday, March 28, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

  • Southern California guard Isaiah White celebrates after making a basket during the first half of a Sweet 16 game against Oregon in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Sunday, March 28, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

  • Oregon guard Chris Duarte drives to the basket past Southern California guard Isaiah White, right, during the first half of a Sweet 16 game in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Sunday, March 28, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

  • Oregon guard LJ Figueroa (12) tries to steal the ball from Southern California guard Isaiah White, left, during the first half of a Sweet 16 game in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Sunday, March 28, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

  • Southern California forward Evan Mobley (4) fights for the opening tipoff with Oregon guard LJ Figueroa (12) during the first half of a Sweet 16 game in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Sunday, March 28, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

  • Oregon guard LJ Figueroa (12) loses the ball over Southern California forward Isaiah Mobley, left, during the second half of a Sweet 16 game in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Sunday, March 28, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

  • Southern California guard Drew Peterson celebrates after making a 3-point basket during the second half of a Sweet 16 game against Oregon in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Sunday, March 28, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

  • Southern California guard Drew Peterson (13) passes ahead of Oregon guard Will Richardson, left, during the second half of a Sweet 16 game in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Sunday, March 28, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

  • Drew Peterson #13 of the USC Trojans reacts in the second half of their Sweet Sixteen round game against the Oregon Ducks in the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 28, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

  • Drew Peterson #13 of the USC Trojans reacts to a foul call in the second half of their Sweet Sixteen round game against the Oregon Ducks in the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 28, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

of

Expand

Well, at least the Pac-12 regular-season championship is put to bed.

USC broke the virtual tie with Oregon and, for the second time this season, broke everything else the Ducks had planned.

This 82-68 win will be better-known as the ramp to the regional finals for the Trojans, who will see undefeated Gonzaga at the top of it Tuesday night..

It came atop the 72-58 win over the Ducks in Galen Center on Feb. 22, one in which the Trojans led 15-0 and by 21 at the half without Isaiah Mobley. This one was nearly as routine, although the no-quit Ducks hassled USC with their pressure defense in the second half and actually made USC coach Andy Enfield call a time out under duress.

Although Isaiah White and Tahj Eaddy pushed the Trojans ahead in the first half with their shooting, the two signature moments came from the Mobley family.

Isaiah took an inbounds pass against Oregon’s press and sauntered 70 feet for a reverse dunk. Evan, who had been a sedate presence until then, took advantage of a defensive gamble and tickled all the seismographs in the Midwest with a two-hand jam, one that he will replicate on a weekly basis, at least, for some lottery-bound NBA franchise next season.

But the Trojans really won with a zone defense that is becoming Enfield’s weapon of choice. With 6-foot-8 Drew Peterson on the point and with the Mobleys standing back there like library lions, Oregon was flummoxed enough to shoot 30 percent in the first half.

It was leading 10-9 when USC went into the zone and got a bucket on the first possession against it. The Trojans then scored 12 of the next 14 points, over a span of 4:05, and the Ducks missed seven consecutive shots. In the half, Oregon missed six of 10 layups in this claustrophobia-inducing setting, and because the Trojans were stroking their 3-pointers so consistently, the Ducks couldn’t find the speed game they needed.

It’s the type of zone that makes USC look so futuristic. The basketball authorities haven’t made the court any wider over the years, so when folks like Eaddy and Peterson and Isaiah White are sprinting out to hassle the shooters. That’s how you force so many offensive shoes to land on the sideline, a 21st-century type of turnover that comes from such wide spacing.

“The energy of March Madness and the crowd,” explained White, the transfer from Utah Valley.  “We know what’s at stake every time we come out on the floor.”

So far White and the other shooters have prevented the Trojans’ foul shooting maladies from catching up. And if the Trojans keep winning games by an average margin of 21 points, their immunity will hold.

As usual, USC opened with man-to-man defense, which is Enfield’s usual preference. He also knew Plan B wouldn’t be far away.

“They have five forwards and guards, and we have two bigs in the game,” Enfield said. “I really don’t think we can guard them man-to-man, because all five of them can shoot the ball from outside. We don’t want to bring our bigs away from the basket.  It’s hard to chase those guys all over the perimeter and we didn’t want to switch all of their ball screens, so we were able to get out on those shooters and still be strong inside. Then we just rotated our wings as we went along.”

Zones often dominate the tournament, as anyone who has played Syracuse in March can testify. Teams have little time to prepare for the ball movement that’s demanded, and they can’t really replicate what it looks like in real life.

“We probably played man-to-man 90 percent of the time during the season,” Enfield said. “But in the tournament we’ve played, we’ve played three similar teams. We went to the zone out of necessity against all their shooters.. I don’t like going small too often, and our man-to-man has been terrific most of the year. It’s basically because of the matchups we’ve had.

“We didn’t practice it for maybe a month before the tournament. Now we’re got better and better because we’ve played it so much.”

Drake, Kansas and Oregon have shot 32.1 percent, or missed 67.9 percent, in these tournament losses to USC. Which brings us to the creature at the top of the ramp.

Gonzaga shot 49 percent in its second round win over Wisconsin. That was their worst — repeat, worst — shooting performance of its undefeated season.

On Tuesday, Gonzaga’s year-long Hot Zone intersects with a hot zone. Only one can escape.

Powered by WPeMatico

Orange dominates La Mirada with explosive passing attack

ORANGE — Orange football coach Robert Pedroza was concerned that his team might suffer a letdown after its emotional win over crosstown foe Villa Park last week.

The Panther players put his concerns to rest when they dominated La Mirada 40-9 on Thursday at El Modena High’s Fred Kelly Stadium.

Orange quarterback Daylen Pedroza, who is not related to his head coach, threw for a career-high 441 yards and five touchdowns in the win.

He is a three-year starter, but the Panthers (2-0) are running a new offense with a lot of empty backfields and quick reads for the quarterback.

“He’s adapted so well,” Coach Pedroza said of his quarterback. “He’s a leader out there. When it comes down to it, he’s going to make sure everybody is on the same page.”

Four of Pedroza’s five touchdowns were to Raymond Casillas. The junior receiver had a career game, catching seven passes for a school-record 264 yards and four touchdowns.

“He makes my job a lot easier,” Daylen said of Casillas. “He’s a playmaker. I just get him the ball and let him do his thing.”

“I came out and put on a show and did what I had to do for the team,” Casillas said. “A lot of people talk smack because we were a lower division team, but we can play with the top teams. We are proving that.”

Pedroza and Casillas connected for their first touchdown on a 57-yard pass less than a minute into the game to put Orange ahead 6-0.

The duo scored again on a 56-yard pass and after a two-point conversion run by Isaiah Adetoye, the Panthers had a 14-3 lead midway through the second quarter.

Near the end of the first half, Pedroza threw a 62-yard touchdown pass to Issac Adetoye and Orange went into halftime up 20-9.

Pedroza threw two more touchdowns to Casillas in the second half of 42 and 76 yards, respectively. Freshman running back Kobe Boykin ran for a 27-yard touchdown in the third quarter and had an interception on defense.

La Mirada (0-1) came into the game with the clear intention of running the ball down the throat of the Orange defense. The Panther defense had a bend-but-don’t-break mentality and held La Mirada to under 4 yards per carry.

“Our defensive coordinator, Coach Vasquez, is dialed in every week,” Coach Pedroza said. “The kids are so tough up front and they love to play football. It’s fun to watch.”

La Mirada running back Isaiah Martinez rushed for 103 yards on 21 carries. He caught a 41-yard screen pass to set up a touchdown pass from Nehuel Garcia to Tristin Walters for the Matadores’ lone touchdown of the game.

Powered by WPeMatico

Edison continues torrid scoring pace in rout of Newport Harbor

HUNTINGTON BEACH — Braeden Boyles threw for 241 yards and three touchdowns to lead a quick-strike offensive onslaught as Edison cruised to a 47-14 victory over Newport Harbor on Thursday night at Huntington Beach High.

The Chargers (2-0) put up 34 points in the first half and scored early and often to overwhelm the Sailors (1-1).

  • Edison’s Mateo Liau, left, sprints past Newport Harbor’s Eriq Hilliard during a game at Huntington Beach High School in Huntington Beach on Thursday, March 18, 2021. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • Edison defenders tackle Newport Harbor’s Justin McCoy during a game at Huntington Beach High School in Huntington Beach on Thursday, March 18, 2021. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • Edison’s Nico Brown, right, raises his arms after scoring a touchdown during a game against Newport Harbor at Huntington Beach High School in Huntington Beach on Thursday, March 18, 2021. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • Edison’s Troy Fletcher, right, intercepts a pass intended to Newport Harbor’s James Crowell during a game at Huntington Beach High School in Huntington Beach on Thursday, March 18, 2021. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • Edison’s Mateo Liau, right, celebrates his touchdown with Brayden Johnson during a game against Newport Harbor at Huntington Beach High School in Huntington Beach on Thursday, March 18, 2021. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • Edison’s Mateo Liau scores a touchdown past Newport Harbor’s Connor Cheiner during a game at Huntington Beach High School in Huntington Beach on Thursday, March 18, 2021. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • Edison’s Tyler Hampton celebrates his touchdown with Bradley Luna during a game against Newport Harbor at Huntington Beach High School in Huntington Beach on Thursday, March 18, 2021. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • Edison’s Jack Kosick, center, intercepts a pass intended to Newport Harbor’s James Crowell, right, during a game at Huntington Beach High School in Huntington Beach on Thursday, March 18, 2021. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • Edison’s Braeden Boyles throws a pass during a game against Newport Harbor at Huntington Beach High School in Huntington Beach on Thursday, March 18, 2021. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • Newport Harbor’s Kashton Henjum, left, sprints past Edison’s Gavin Shappell during a game at Huntington Beach High School in Huntington Beach on Thursday, March 18, 2021. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • Edison’s Mateo Liau sprints with the ball during a game against Newport Harbor at Huntington Beach High School in Huntington Beach on Thursday, March 18, 2021. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • Edison’s Jeremy Alcorn, right, and Brock Sale, top, sack Newport Harbor’s Nick Kim during a game at Huntington Beach High School in Huntington Beach on Thursday, March 18, 2021. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • Edison’s Jeremy Alcorn celebrates his sack during a game against Newport Harbor at Huntington Beach High School in Huntington Beach on Thursday, March 18, 2021. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • Newport Harbor’s Nick Kim throws a pass during a game against Edison at Huntington Beach High School in Huntington Beach on Thursday, March 18, 2021. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • Newport Harbor’s Justin McCoy, right, sprints past Edison’s Jack Kosick score a touchdown during a game at Huntington Beach High School in Huntington Beach on Thursday, March 18, 2021. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

of

Expand

“We were pretty efficient on offense that first half,” Edison coach Jeff Grady said. “It was exciting. The guys up front (had) solid pass protection and we had a few opportunities in the run game we took advantage of, so I’m proud of the guys.”

Nico Brown had six catches for 110 yards with one TD while Tyler Hampton caught a pair of touchdown passes as Boyles feasted on the Newport Harbor secondary.

“He did a good job of taking completions and taking what the defense gave him,” Grady said of the junior.

Boyles found Brown on their first offensive play with a 42-yard connection and Brown touched the ball two more times on that opening drive before his 2-yard touchdown reception gave the Chargers a 7-0 lead.

After a Jack Kosick interception, Boyles hit Hampton two plays later for a 38-yard touchdown catch to make it 14-0 Edison.

The Sailors responded with some deep passes of their own as Nic Kim found receiver Josiah Lamarque on gains of 32 and 35 yards before Justin McCoy scored on a 11-yard run to cut the Chargers’ advantage in half 14-7 with 1:26 left in the first quarter.

On the next drive Boyles hit Tyler Gioia for a 45-yard reception that set up Mateo Liau’s first TD run of the night. Liau finished with three touchdowns and 70 yards rushing.

Edison scored on its fourth consecutive drive facing fourth-and-1 on the Newport Harbor 14 on a beautiful play-fake by Boyles who found Hampton in the back of the end zone to make it 27-7 late in the second quarter.

The Chargers made it 5-for-5 on first-half touchdown scoring drives as Nico Brown’s 42-yard catch set up Liau’s second TD run of the game to make it 34-7 with 1:25 left in the half. The drive only took 20 seconds.

Newport Harbor successfully attempted and recovered an onside kick to start the second half and drove to Edison territory before Austin Grbic’s 62-yard scoop and score halted any momentum gained by the Sailors.

Grady praised his defense, which forced three turnovers and has also scored a defensive touchdown in back-to-back games.

“Defensive scores change games and it changed momentum because they were driving the football,” Grady said. “The fumble recovery for a touchdown can be a backbreaker, and they fought back like they do but it was huge for us.”

Kashton Henjum finished with 11 catches for 149 yards and a touchdown for the Sailors.

Powered by WPeMatico