Kamala Harris’ sputtering campaign

It would be interesting to know the precise moment that California Sen. Kamala Harris realized that she would not win the presidency, at least not in 2020.

If it’s not already occurred, it implies a state of denial. And if it has, one wonders why she’s continuing a campaign that is in freefall and, if not ended soon, could damage her political future.

It’s been weeks since Harris appeared on anyone’s top tier list of Democratic presidential hopefuls and her polling numbers in key early primary or caucus states such as South Carolina and Iowa are frozen in low single digits.

Initially, when Harris was the Democrats’ flavor of the week, she hoped to score a big early win in South Carolina where, it was assumed, her biracial background would be a big asset.

However, a new Quinnipiac University poll shows her with just 3% support in South Carolina, including just 6% percent of black voters, her presumed base. That’s less than one-seventh of former Vice President Joe Biden’s African-American support in the state.

At some point, Harris more or less abandoned South Carolina and said she would make a maximum effort in Iowa, but a new Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom Iowa Poll has her stuck in the same rut at just 3%.

If she could score well in those early states, so went her original strategy, she could make a game-changing touchdown in California, which had advanced its presidential primary to March.

Alas, she’s not doing well in her home state either. A new Public Policy Institute of California poll found that just 8% of Democratic voters want her to go to the White House, one-third of frontrunner Biden’s standing.

Predictably, the national political press has shifted from anointing Harris as the next Barack Obama to delving into what short-circuited her campaign.

Some analysts see her equivocating positions on hot-button issues such as single-payer health care as a negative factor, and they certainly played a role. Harris is well-known in California for positioning herself on issues to avoid risk, but seemingly lacking any central philosophical core.

Others conducting autopsies on her dying campaign have found internal disorganization stemming, in part, from having her sister, Maya, play such a prominent role in fashioning strategy and tactics, overriding the professionals.

That’s somewhat reminiscent of what happened to another California politician who seemed to be on the fast-track to the White House, Republican Dan Lungren. State attorney general at the time, he seemed destined to win the governorship in 1998 against a weak Democrat, Gray Davis, but allowed members of his family to run what turned out to be a very disorganized campaign and lost.

Whatever the causes, Harris’ presidential ambitions are crashing and her political future is now cloudy.

It’s possible that she could be tapped as a vice presidential candidate, but she doesn’t seem to fit well with any of the frontrunners — Biden, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders — and the party’s eventual nominee can already take California’s electoral votes for granted.

Winning a second Senate term in 2022 will likely be Harris’ next political chore, and her weak campaign this year could encourage the militant left-wing of her party to mount a serious challenge.

However, if Harris’ political career to date is any guide, even if she wins re-election, she’ll likely be more interested in making headlines than in doing the gritty legislative work the state needs.

CalMatters is a public interest journalism venture committed to explaining how California’s state Capitol works and why it matters. For more stories by Dan Walters, go to calmatters.org/commentary

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Centennial football team rolls past JSerra in Division 1 quarterfinal game

  • Centennial’s Dominique Clay rushes for short yardage. Centennial was hosting JSerra in a CIF Southern Section Division 1 quarterfinal playoff game in Corona on Friday, November 15, 2019.(Photo by Bill Alkofer, Contributing Photographer)
    Centennial was hosting JSerra in a CIF Southern Section Division 1 quarterfinal playoff game in Corona on Friday, November 15, 2019. (Photo by Bill Alkofer, Contributing Photographer)

  • JSerra quarterback General Booty looks for a receiver downfield. Centennial was hosting JSerra in a CIF Southern Section Division 1 quarterfinal playoff game in Corona on Friday, November 15, 2019.(Photo by Bill Alkofer, Contributing Photographer)

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  • Centennial quarterback Carter Freedland is sacked in the first half. Centennial was hosting JSerra in a CIF Southern Section Division 1 quarterfinal playoff game in Corona on Friday, November 15, 2019.(Photo by Bill Alkofer, Contributing Photographer)

  • Centennial quarterback Ala Mikaele takes off on a 48-yard run. Centennial was hosting JSerra in a CIF Southern Section Division 1 quarterfinal playoff game in Corona on Friday, November 15, 2019.(Photo by Bill Alkofer, Contributing Photographer)

  • JSerra quarterback Garrett Philips is brought down by Centennial’s Miguel Bautista. Centennial was hosting JSerra in a CIF Southern Section Division 1 quarterfinal playoff game in Corona on Friday, November 15, 2019.(Photo by Bill Alkofer, Contributing Photographer)

  • JSerra’s Hayden Round and Storm Seeley watch the clock tick down in the fourth quarter. Centennial was hosting JSerra in a CIF Southern Section Division 1 quarterfinal playoff game in Corona on Friday, November 15, 2019.(Photo by Bill Alkofer, Contributing Photographer)

  • Centennial’s Ethan Wenzel and Dylan Fulmer put a hit on JSerra quarterback Garrett Philips in the fourth quarter.
    Centennial was hosting JSerra in a CIF Southern Section Division 1 quarterfinal playoff game in Corona on Friday, November 15, 2019.(Photo by Bill Alkofer, Contributing Photographer)

  • Centennial was hosting JSerra in a CIF Southern Section Division 1 quarterfinal playoff game in Corona on Friday, November 15, 2019.(Photo by Bill Alkofer, Contributing Photographer)

  • JSerra’s Owen Chambers walks off the field disappointed after Centennial celebrates their 56th point in a shutout victory. Centennial was hosting JSerra in a CIF Southern Section Division 1 quarterfinal playoff game in Corona on Friday, November 15, 2019.(Photo by Bill Alkofer, Contributing Photographer)

  • Centennial’s Korey Foreman celebrates his team’s 56-0 victory over JSerra. Centennial was hosting JSerra in a CIF Southern Section Division 1 quarterfinal playoff game in Corona on Friday, November 15, 2019.(Photo by Bill Alkofer, Contributing Photographer)

  • Centennial’s Gary Bryant celebrates Aaron Smith’s touchdown reception. Centennial was hosting JSerra in a CIF Southern Section Division 1 quarterfinal playoff game in Corona on Friday, November 15, 2019.(Photo by Bill Alkofer, Contributing Photographer)

  • JSerra’s General Booty is sacked by Centennial’s Simon Hall. Centennial was hosting JSerra in a CIF Southern Section Division 1 quarterfinal playoff game in Corona on Friday, November 15, 2019.(Photo by Bill Alkofer, Contributing Photographer)

  • JSerra quarterback General Booty threw under pressure from Centennial’s Korey Foreman. Centennial was hosting JSerra in a CIF Southern Section Division 1 quarterfinal playoff game in Corona on Friday, November 15, 2019.(Photo by Bill Alkofer, Contributing Photographer)

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CORONA >>> About a month ago, Centennial football coach Matt Logan wondered how his team would handle having a first-round playoff bye. Turns out there was no reason for concern.

Centennial’s offense was its usual juggernaut self, rolling up 573 yards while scoring touchdowns on eight of its first 10 possessions. The defense was equally masterful, holding JSerra to 71 yards and the Huskies rolled to a 56-0 victory in a Division 1 quarterfinal.

Logan said his players used the extra week to improve, in a case of iron sharpening iron.

“We have a very good offense and a very good defense, and they have to go up against one another every day,” Logan said. “Those practice reps are almost as helpful as game reps.”

Centennial receiver Gary Bryant showed his all-around skills early, as he took a reverse 70 yards for a touchdown on the Huskies’ second play from scrimmage. Bryant later tossed a 58-yard touchdown to Aaron Smith to give the Huskies a 28-0 lead in the second period.

“We went over the play all week in practice,” Bryant said of the double pass that led to his first touchdown pass. “When he (Logan) called the play, I think we all were a little excited to run it. And it was a great feeling to be able to execute it for a touchdown.”

JSerra (6-5) could not get much going on offense, as the Lions managed one first down in the opening half. The Lions finished with 21 rushing yards and 50 yards through the air.

“You have to be perfect in execution to beat Centennial, and we just had too many mental errors on both sides of the ball,” Lions coach Pat Harlow said. “It shows up real quick.”

Centennial linebacker Simon Hall said the defense was well-prepared for Friday’s playoff opener.

“Anything they ran, we were ready for,” said Hall, who had two sacks. “We had a great week of practice and we came out here and practiced. We were anxious to get back on the field again.”

Carter Freedland, who is one third of Centennial’s three-headed quarterback platoon, had a pair of touchdown runs, including a 31-yarder with a jaw-dropping spin move at the end of the first half to give the Huskies a 42-0 lead. Jake Retzlaff had a 57-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Narbonne, and Retzlaff added an 8-yard touchdown run in the third period.

Centennial (9-2) advanced to the section semifinals for the 13th consecutive season and will host St. John Bosco (10-1) next week in what likely will be the Fox Sports West televised Game of the Week. It will be the sixth time in seven seasons those teams meet in the playoffs, but the first game to played on Centennial’s turf.

“We excited to have another home game and to be playing St. John Bosco again,” Logan said.

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Whicker: Clippers survive off night, get ready to brandish their not-so-secret weapon

LOS ANGELES — Paul George, come on down.

The Clippers who launched a thousand magazine covers last month turn their weary eyes to you, maybe as early as Wednesday night in Houston. The second biggest reason anyone thought the Clippers would be That Team is ready to launch.

They held the fort without George on Monday night, as his shoulder nears full rehabilitation. They seized a 98-88 win over the leg-weary Toronto Raptors, who could manage only 10 fourth-quarter points as Fred Van Vleet had to play 45½ minutes, Pascal Siakam 43½ and Norman Powell 37.

They did even though they missed more than three-quarters of their 3-point shots and Kawhi Leonard struggled through 12 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists and nine turnovers. “Almost a triple-double,” said Doc Rivers, his coach.

Four Clippers had 10 or more rebounds, including JaMychal Green’s 12 in 24 minutes and 12 in 23 minutes from 6-foot-1 guard Patrick Beverley. It was one of those substance-not-style wins that the Clippers like to put on their billboards, although the pre-eminent substance was iron.

“There are going to be a lot of those nights,” Lou Williams said. “You can’t get really caught up in whether he plays well or not. There will be some nights when he just doesn’t have it, and the other guys are going to have to pick up the slack.”

The Raptors, of course, rode Leonard to last year’s NBA championship, but everybody who played for Toronto on Monday had practiced with Leonard at least 100 times.

“We’ll have to come up with something,” Coach Nick Nurse said beforehand. “The main thing is not to give him the easy stuff, make him work for everything.”

The double-teams came early, often and with different cast members. Leonard didn’t have a field goal until the halfway point of the third quarter, when he took a rebound and motored coast-to-coast for a left-handed finish.

“We didn’t anticipate they would double team like that but you have to adjust,” Williams said. “We did a lot better job of that in the second half.”

Meanwhile, the lactic acid got inside the Raptors’ shooting legs. Van Vleet was 6 for 20 and Siakam 6 for 17. If not for another remarkable contribution from backup big man Chris Boucher (14 points, six rebounds, two blocked shots, 22 minutes), Toronto would have absorbed the blowout that a lineup without Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka might deserve. Then you add an injury to OG Anunoby that removed him after two minutes.

“We ran out of gas a little bit,” Van Vleet said. “We kind of ran ourselves into the mud. It’s one hell of a team to play back-to-back and shorthanded.”

The Raptors jolted the Lakers here Sunday night.

“They were trying to get me into some pick-and-rolls and I thought we responded to that,” Williams said. “We were sniffing it out and we sent other guys to deal with it. We did a better job boxing, stopping some second-chance opportunities.”

Toronto had only five offensive rebounds and took a 66-38 beating on the boards, 24-8 in a fourth quarter in which the world champs missed 20 of 24 shots.

Still, Nurse was defiant: “We totally outplayed the Clippers tonight. We were playing harder and executing better. Then we took the ball to the basket about eight straight possessions and came away with nothing.”

But that head-down approach, by then, was fine with the Clippers. The hosts played a bigger lineup in the fourth quarter, particularly after Landry Shamet sprained his ankle. Shamet left Staples Center on crutches but appeared to be putting weight on his foot.

With Leonard, Green, Williams, Harrell and Maurice Harkless, the Clippers shrank Toronto’s court and fought through their own 19 turnovers.

“I don’t know if we’ve played that lineup before,” Rivers said.

When George returns, the possibilities blossom. Rivers savored the thought of another team trying to double-team Leonard again. The Clippers are already fourth in the league in defensive field goal percentage and third in the league against 3-point shooting without George’s NBA All-Defense services. Now that Rivers knows that Harkless, new to the Clippers, enjoys dealing with point guards, he might go through several spiral notebooks with defensive plans.

And the Clippers have played Utah twice in the first 10 games, along with the Lakers, Portland, Milwaukee and now Toronto.

“I don’t really know what we have,” Rivers said. “We’ve got a lot to figure out, still. But while we’re doing it, we’re still winning games.”

What he’s saying is that the Clippers are 7-3, and the reason it’s OK is that Paul George is 0-0.


The Clippers improved to 7-3 without Paul George, pictured, on Monday night, but the All-Star wing is close to making his Clippers debut, at which point, they will become even more potent on offense and defense. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

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Valencia uses fourth-quarter comeback to hand Pacifica first league loss

PLACENTIA — Valencia used a reliable formula of a great running game, solid defense and timely turnovers to erase a 13-point, fourth-quarter deficit and beat Pacifica 35-34 on Thursday night at Valencia High.

The Tigers were led by running back Kaine Rosas, who rushed for 240 yards and two touchdowns, both in the fourth quarter, including the go-ahead score on a 31-yard run with 6:56 left in the game.

Valencia coach Jason Gray knew his team could pull out a victory if it stayed within striking distance of the Mariners (5-4, 3-1).

“We’re hard to beat,” Gray said. “For us, it was just a matter of being there in the end and being able to exert our physicality.”

The Tigers (4-5, 2-2) did just that as they entered the fourth quarter trailing 34-21 but closed the gap when Shaun McHale found a wide open Carson Elmasry for a 34-yard gain. Two plays later, Rosas scored on a 15-yard run to make it 34-28 with 10:57 left in the game.

Valencia RB Kaine Rosas (240 yards, 2 TDs) talks about the team effort needed to beat Pacifica 35-34. The Tigers handed the Mariners their first league loss of the season. @ocvarsity @VHS_Football @CoachGrayVHS pic.twitter.com/pxEN61ucOW

— David Delgado🇪🇨 (@DavidDelgado_OC) October 25, 2019

Pacifica (5-4, 3-1) went three and out on its next possession and Rosas kept on rumbling for yardage in the final quarter. The 6-foot, 225-pound back constantly dragged multiple defenders for extra yards on his carries as he gained 99 of his game-high 240 yards in the fourth quarter.

Pacifica’s Isaiah Blevins came into the game seventh in rushing yards in Orange County, but he was stifled all game besides a 55-yard touchdown run that gave Pacifica a 34-21 lead with 1:52 left in the third quarter.

This game belonged to Rosas.

Gray was also proud of the collective effort he saw from Valencia’s defense despite giving up several big plays.

“It was just a matter of playing the best possible defense that we could play against all their guys,” Gray said, “trying to be as sound as possible and then put ourselves in a position to win the game late, and that’s what we did.”

Carlos Leos intercepted Darius Cowens on the Mariners’ final possession, which allowed the Tigers to collect a few more first downs and run out the clock.

Blevins was held to 77 yards on the ground, but he was able to impact the game in other ways, including taking the opening kickoff 94 yards for a score and throwing a 53-yard touchdown pass to Jamaal Fisher.

Fisher also caught a 63-yard score from Cowens.

Gray thanked his assistant coaches for their help in constructing a game plan to beat Pacifica.

“Coach Garcia, our defensive coordinator, always does a great job, and Coach Mahoney, my offensive line coach, had those guys going and they just stuck with it,” Gray said.

Despite the loss, Pacifica coach Vinnie Lopez said if his team needs to regroup quickly because it still has a chance to win a share of the Empire League title.

Cypress is 4-0 in league and has clinched a share of the title.

Pacifica plays Cypress in the league finale on Thursday, Oct. 31, at Bolsa Grande High. A victory in that game will make the Mariners co-champions.

“Tustin has two losses, Valencia has two losses and we only have one,” Lopez said of the Empire League rivals. “If we go out and beat Cypress (next week), we’re still league champs.”

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Servite breaks through to defeat JSerra behind Fifita, McMillan


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COSTA MESA — Servite’s football team finally claimed the breakthrough victory it was seeking Thursday.

Now, the Friars might be in the Division 1 conversation in the CIF-SS for good.

  • Servite quarterback Noah Fifita throws a pass during Servite’s 34-21 victory over JSerra in a Trinity League football game at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Servite’s Tetairoa McMillan celebrates after making a one-handed touchdown catch past JSerra’s New Zealand Williams during the first half of Servite’s 34-21 victory over JSerra in a Trinity League football game at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

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  • Servite’s Jacob Blandburg tackles JSerra quarterback General Booty during Servite’s 34-21 victory over JSerra in a Trinity League football game at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Servite’s Zedakiah Centers hauls in a long pass in front of JSerra’s Alec Wills during Servite’s 34-21 victory over JSerra in a Trinity League football game at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Servite’s Zedakiah Centers, left, celebrates his touchdown with teammate Tetairoa McMillan during the first half of Servite’s 34-21 victory over JSerra in a Trinity League football game at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Servite’s Jack Kane catches a first half interception on a pass intended for JSerra’s New Zealand Williams during Servite’s 34-21 victory over JSerra in a Trinity League football game at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Servite’s Kyle Bandy powers his way in for a touchdown past JSerra’s Alec Wills during Servite’s 34-21 victory over JSerra in a Trinity League football game at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Servite’s Zedakiah Centers runs for a first half touchdown during Servite’s 34-21 victory over JSerra in a Trinity League football game at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • JSerra quarterback General Booty attempts a pass under pressure from Servite’s Jacob Blandburg tackles Mason Graham during Servite’s 34-21 victory over JSerra in a Trinity League football game at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Servite quarterback Noah Fifita throws a pass over JSerra’s Jaden Genova during Servite’s 34-21 victory over JSerra in a Trinity League football game at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • JSerra’s Earnest McDaniel turns the ball over on a Servite punt during their 34-21 loss to Servite in a Trinity League football game at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • JSerra’s Sammy Green runs over Servite’s Zion Sims during their 34-21 loss to Servite in a Trinity League football game at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • JSerra’s Earnest McDaniel hauls in a pass on a long touchdown play during their 34-21 loss to Servite in a Trinity League football game at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Servite’s Kevin Ryan has a punt blocked by JSerra’s New Zealand Williams resulting a Jserra touchdown during Servite’s 34-21 victory over JSerra in a Trinity League football game at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • JSerra’s Garrett Philips throws a pass during their 34-21 loss to Servite in a Trinity League football game at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Servite’s Derek Fuentes tumbles for a first down during Servite’s 34-21 victory over JSerra in a Trinity League football game at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Servite quarterback Noah Fifita runs for a first down during Servite’s 34-21 victory over JSerra in a Trinity League football game at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Servite’s Houston Thomas bumps into JSerra’s Earnest McDaniel after he called for a fair catch for a penalty during Servite’s 34-21 victory over JSerra in a Trinity League football game at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • JSerra head coach Pat Harlow on the sidelines during their 34-21 loss to Servite in a Trinity League football game at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Servite head coach Troy Thomas shakes hands with JSerra head coach Pat Harlow after Servite’s 34-21 victory over JSerra in a Trinity League football game at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • JSerra head coach Pat Harlow on the sidelines during their 34-21 loss to Servite in a Trinity League football game at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Servite head coach Troy Thomas on the sidelines during Servite’s 34-21 victory over JSerra in a Trinity League football game at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Servite head coach Troy Thomas on the sidelines during Servite’s 34-21 victory over JSerra in a Trinity League football game at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Servite head coach Troy Thomas tries to get the crowd involved during Servite’s 34-21 victory over JSerra in a Trinity League football game at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • JSerra’s Captains head out for the coin toss before their Trinity League football game against Servite at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Servite’s Tristen Wilson, left, and Jacob Manu say a prayer before their teammates take the field against JSerra in a Trinity League football game at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Servite head coach Troy Thomas leads his team onto the field before their 34-21 victory over JSerra in a Trinity League football game at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Servite fans celebrate on the sidelines after a nice catch by Zedakiah Centers during Servite’s 34-21 victory over JSerra in a Trinity League football game at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • A JSerra cheerleader supports her team on the sidelines during their Trinity League football game against Servite at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • The Servite dance team performs at halftime of their Trinity League football game against JSerra at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Servite’s student section, “The Asylum,” cheers on their team during their Trinity League football game against JSerra at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Servite cheerleaders perform on the sidelines of their Trinity League football game against JSerra at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Servite fans celebrate a play during their Trinity League football game against JSerra at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Servite’s student section, “The Asylum,” sings John Denver’s “Take Me Home Country Road” during their Trinity League football game against JSerra at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

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The sophomore duo of quarterback Noah Fifita and wide receiver Tetairoa McMillan dazzled once again as No. 5 Servite defeated No. 2 JSerra 34-21 in a pivotal Trinity League game at Orange Coast College.

After a surprisingly close loss to St. John Bosco and a lopsided defeat against Mater Dei, the Friars (5-3, 1-2) earned their first league victory and proved the potential they showed against the Braves makes them Division 1 contenders.

“This was a big win,” said Fifita, who passed for four touchdowns and ran for another. “We finally showed everybody that the Bosco game wasn’t a fluke and we’re really here. I really hope it gets us into the Division 1 playoffs.

“It should be a fun road from here on out.”

Fifita completed his first seven passes and finished 23 of 36 for 270 yards and no interceptions.

He tossed touchdowns to four different receivers: McMillan, Zedakiah Centers, Damien Moun and running back Kyle Bandy.

The signature play belonged to McMillan, who made a spectacular, one-handed catch for a 2-yard touchdown reception early in the second quarter.

“Doesn’t surprise me,” Servite coach Troy Thomas said of McMillan’s grab. “I’ve seen them in practice and passing league. But that’s him. He’s special.”

JSerra (5-3, 1-2) responded well to McMillian’s grab and tied the score 14-14 in the second quarter. But Servite, ranked sixth in Division 1,scored  twice in the final 3:02 of the first half to seize control against the No. 5-ranked Lions.

Fifita capped a 90-yard scoring drive with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Moun. Fifita then helped Servite capitalize on an interception by safety Jack Kane by scoring on a 1-yard run on fourth-and-goal with seven seconds left in the first half to give the Friars a 28-14 lead.

Servite’s offensive line didn’t allow a sack while the defense forced three turnovers.

Thomas believes his team needs to wins its next two games – against Santa Margarita and Orange Lutheran – to qualify for Division 1’s new elite 8 playoffs.

“This is a big win for our program,” he said. “They’re a nationally ranked team. For us to beat them is a big win for our young guys. … You come to Servite to be the best.”

JSerra quarterback General Booty scored on a 1-yard run early in the fourth quarter to trim the Friars’ lead to 28-21. But Fifita led another scoring drive and Servite’s defense made a late stand from its 9.

“We’re undisciplined and we don’t do what we’re supposed to do so I’m failing them as a coach,” JSerra coach Pat Harlow said.

 

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Collision in Santa Ana intersection kills a car passenger

SANTA ANA — Two cars collided in a Santa Ana intersection on Saturday, killing a passenger, authorities said.

The crash, which killed a man in a front passenger seat of one of the cars, was reported at 10:50 a.m. in the intersection of Newhope Street and Westminster Boulevard, Santa Ana police said.

Statements and video surveillance indicated the driver of a purple 2013 Hyundai Sonata was southbound on Newhope Street in the left lane when his car was struck in the rear by a black 2014 Toyota Camry that was making a left turn, police said. The Hyundai driver lost control of the car and crashed into a large street light at the southwest corner.

The Hyundai sustained major damage on the passenger side and the man in the front passenger seat was pronounced dead at the scene from major upper body injuries, police said.

The man driving the car suffered bruises to his face and jaw and was taken by Orange County Fire Authority paramedics to a hospital for treatment.

Two women in the back seat suffered major internal injuries and were taken to hospitals, where one was listed in critical condition, police said.

The man driving the Toyota reported no injuries and remained at the scene. The left front of his car was moderately damaged, police said.

Neither alcohol nor drugs appeared to be factors in the crash, police said.

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San Juan Hills finds way past Aliso Niguel with Hogan’s help on the ground


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ALISO VIEJO — It was supposed to be a passing frenzy involving two of the best receivers in Orange County, but instead a running back provided the first spark.

With the passing games on lockdown in the first half, San Juan Hills running Austin Hogan bulldozed his way down the field.

His hard work helped open up the passing game, and Hudson Jones threw three touchdown passes as the Stallions collected a 35-7 Sea View League victory over Aliso Niguel on Friday night at Aliso Niguel High.

Jones began to find his receivers open after Hogan had success on the ground for San Juan Hills (5-3, 2-0 in league). Hogan rushed for 122 yards on 24 carries and two scores, both in the first half.

Postgame interview with San Juan Hills QB Hudson Jones as his 3 touchdown passes were more than enough in the Stallions victory. @ocvarsity @sjhstampede @sjhhsfootball @sjhhsathletics pic.twitter.com/PKdeu6iBma

— Manny Alvarez (@MAlvarez02) October 12, 2019

“Austin was great,” Jones said. “You want to run the ball and get the passing field open. Austin pounded the ball and scored twice in the first half. The passing game opened up after that. I hit Joey (Hobert) on a couple deep balls and hit (James) Gaines on his first touchdown, which is nice.

“Austin pounding the rock helped a lot.”

Jones finished 17 of 20 passing for 272 yards and three touchdowns, including two scores to Hobert, who caught six passes for 148 yards.

Hobert entered the game eighth in the county in receiving yards, while Aliso Niguel’s Caleb Peterson was No. 1 on the leaders list.

Aliso Niguel (5-2, 0-1) scored its only touchdown late in the fourth quarter on Kyle Kyckelhahn’s 10-yard pass to Kayne Ross.

A scary situation occurred in the third quarter on a play where Cole Monach caught a 26-yard pass for San Juan Hills. Aliso Niguel junior defensive back Trevor Remaldo stayed down on the ground after his helmet hit Monach’s thigh while he attempted to make a tackle.

The game was stopped for 20 minutes as Remaldo was tended to and then taken off the field in an ambulance. Remaldo was talking and moving before he left the field.

“Trevor is a really good player,” San Juan Hills coach Robert Frith said. “To see him go down like that, things got real real quick. This is a tough sport and I hope he is OK. I hope he recovers well. This is a very emotional game.”

Postgame interview with San Juan Hills coach Robert Frith as the Stallions get a big Sea View League victory!

Sorry, low memory on my phone cut the interview down short.@ocvarsity @sjhstampede @sjhhsfootball @sjhhsathletics pic.twitter.com/LSRDbIV7Gj

— Manny Alvarez (@MAlvarez02) October 12, 2019

Kyckelhahn threw 15 of 24 for 136 yards and a score, and Peterson caught six passes for 69 yards. Nathan Salas had nine tackles and a sack for the Wolverines.

Aliso Niguel takes on Dana Hills on Friday, Oct. 18.

James Gaines caught four passes for 45 yards and a touchdown and had eight tackles for the Stallions.

San Juan Hills’ next game is Friday Oct. 25 against Dana Hills.

Postgame interview with Joey Hobert of San Juan Hills as he catches 6 passes for 148 yards and 2 touchdowns in the victory!@ocvarsity @sjhstampede @sjhhsfootball @sjhhsathletics @joey_hobert12 pic.twitter.com/ujTGStqbxQ

— Manny Alvarez (@MAlvarez02) October 12, 2019

“I trust in my line,” Hobert said. “Our line is going to be working these next two weeks. What (Dana Hills’) Liam Boersma is doing is insane, but I know our O-line can stop him. We know we won’t let him affect us in anyway.”

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No. 1 Mater Dei, Bryce Young roll past Orange Lutheran in Trinity League opener

Bryce Young threw four touchdowns and cornerback Domani Jackson returned an interception for a score to help top-ranked Mater Dei open the Trinity League with a 51-14 victory against Orange Lutheran at Santa Ana Stadium on Friday.

All-County defensive back Moses Sepulona also caused a safety in his season debut for the Monarchs (6-0, 1-0), ranked No. 1 in the nation.

Young threw two touchdowns in the first quarter as Mater Dei opened a 21-0 lead. The Alabama commit has thrown 23 touchdowns in six games.

Orange Lutheran fell to 3-3 overall, 0-1 in league.

More results to come

 

 

 

 

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No. 1 Newport Harbor gets defensive in sinking No. 2 Huntington Beach

Newport Harbor’s No. 1-ranked boys water polo team took the task of defending its Surf League title quite literally Wednesday night, and that was a good thing for the Sailors.

USC-committed goalie Blake Jackson made 13 saves and Newport Harbor held visiting No. 2 Huntington Beach to only goal in the second half en route to a league-opening 7-4 victory.

Eli Liechty and Mason Hunt each scored twice while freshman Ben Liechty added a goal, two assists and two field blocks on defense for the Sailors.

Ethan Crooks scored twice for the Oilers, who lost attacker Cooper Haddad to a game exclusion in the third period.

 

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Whicker: Michael Pittman, Matt Fink show value of staying put at USC

LOS ANGELES — Michael Pittman could have been in an NFL meeting room Friday night. Matt Fink could have been at Illinois, a football-free zone, trying to figure how to survive Nebraska.

Pittman did not turn pro. Fink, contrary to reports, never transferred to Illinois. Other assumptions about USC, and the constantly-moving tectonic plates of its football program, will be proven or disproven in due time.

What happened Friday night was that Pittman had one of the best nights any receiver ever has had as a target for a third-string quarterback. The Trojans rode those two, plus a defense that bent, broke and reassembled itself, to a 30-23 win over 10th-ranked Utah and a 3-1 record with three different quarterbacks.

“We’re running out of them,” Pittman said, smiling. “But Matt did a great job. He loves to throw those fades.”

Fink and offensive coordinator Graham Harrell rejected the second rule of insanity: If something works, quit doing it.

Pittman, at 6-foot-4, was turning Utah cornerback Jaylon Johnson and his mates into spinning tops. Fink kept throwing drones in Pittman’s direction, and Pittman kept catching them, for 26, 33, 77 and 42 yards. He wound up with 232 yards on 10 catches. Both were career highs for Pittman, and only four USC receivers have gained more yards in a game. In all of 2018, Pittman caught 31 for 437.

Few blue-chip recruits go to college intending to become seniors, but that’s what Pittman is after he decided to avoid the NFL draft. Few quarterbacks expect to graduate from college before they get their first significant action and Fink, finding himself behind JT Daniels (now hurt) and Jack Sears (in the transfer portal), visited Illinois as a possible grad transfer.

But when Kedon Slovis was knocked incoherent on the second play of the game, Fink came in with a well-rested and hungry arm.

“I didn’t know what Matt was going to do, but I just supported him and told him to do what was best for him,” Pittman said.

“Check out those stats,” Fink said, referring to Pittman’s, although his own 351 yards on 21-for-30 passing stood up, too.

“The guy’s a monster. You can’t stop him, but I can say that about all our guys. We’ve got weapons stacked across the board and when they play like that, you can’t do anything about it.”

“If our guys get one-on-one opportunities, they’re going to win them,” Harrell said. “We’ve got eight of them that I feel great about, one-on-one. Michael Pittman at times wins two-on-one, as you saw tonight, so that really helps the cause.”

There was intrigue on both sides of the sideline.

Utah came in ranked No. 10 and was voted the preseason Pac-12 title favorite. It lost running back Zack Moss halfway through Friday’s game, but also committed seven holding penalties and 16 infractions overall, lost a fumble on the USC 2-yard line, had a field-goal attempt blocked and gave up a safety on Drake Jackson’s sack, shortly after USC punter Nick Griffiths jailed the Utes on their own 6-yard line. They weren’t very good, in other words.

But there was also the usual noise around the status of Coach Embattled Clay Helton (now his given name) and the presence of former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, working the game for Fox Sports.

Meyer won the 2014 national championship with Cardale Jones coming from deep off his Buckeyes bench, so he probably thought he saw a well-coached team Friday night.

Carol Folt, the new USC president, was here, too. She was inaugurated in the afternoon. Her comprehensive broom is supposed to sweep out Helton, especially after she hires an athletic director to replace the dismissed Lynn Swann.

But it’s worth noting that Folt comes here from North Carolina, where the previous football coach, Larry Fedora, was 5-18 the past two seasons, after losing bowl games in the previous three. So Folt probably did not think she was watching bad football here. How her North Carolina experience translates into her evaluation of USC basketball, we’ll have to see.

And there was the usual sky-is-falling posture from the fans after USC lost in overtime at Brigham Young.

“We don’t hear what the fans say that much, because they’re only with you when things are good,” Pittman said. “And that’s what a fan is. They’re not going to cheer on a team that goes 5-7. There’s no reason to.

“We wanted to win this game because it was one of our goals, like getting to the playoff, getting to the natty (championship game). We’re just checking off the boxes.”

As in the win over Stanford, USC’s defense swelled with each quarter, once it got a handle on stopping the slippery moves of quarterback Tyler Huntley. The Utes piled up the yards and snapped the ball 79 times to USC’s 54. But USC had enough gas to deny Utah touchdowns on four of six red-zone trips.

Utah was down 21-17 early in the fourth and had a third down on the USC 1-yard line. Isaiah Pola-Mao, who made the critical interception against Fresno State, sought out Huntley and dealt him a 6-yard loss, forcing a field goal that kept the Trojans ahead.

Then Griffiths pinned Utah back, and yet another holding penalty forced a second-and-10, which Jackson, the freshman from Centennial High of Corona, turned into a safety off “a rip move,” as he said. Huntley was called for intentional grounding on his way down.

“The sideline got super-excited when we saw that,” said Markese Stepp, the brutish runner who gets the call when the other defense is too tired to take him on. Stepp bulled his way on a 4-yard score that made it 30-20, after Fink, on third-and-8, speared Pittman for 42 yards.

The stairmaster gets steeper. The Trojans play at Washington next Saturday, and at Notre Dame two weeks later. Harrell’s Air Raid offense needs an offensive line that doesn’t make quarterbacks as disposable as blue razors.

The fourth-stringer is walk-on Brandon Perdue, although Pittman said he was “pretty sure” Slovis would be available next week.

But the Trojans can bask, temporarily, in the virtues of the green, green grass of home, and of the dubious nature of unnecessary change. We’ll see if anyone else agrees.

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