OCVarsity’s Future 50 for Orange County North-South All-Star Classic in 2021

The Orange County North-South All-Star Classic on Friday will spotlight some of the best seniors from the class of 2020. Here’s 50 players — the OCVarsity’s Future 50 — from the class of 2021 who have already surfaced as excellent candidates for the game next year.

If game organizers follow the recommendation of South coach Chad Johnson of Mission Viejo, the 2021 game sponsored by Costa Mesa United and the L.A. Chargers would be moved up earlier in January.

OCVarsity Future 50

Junior prospects for 2021 O.C. all-star game

(Listed alphabetically)

Zeus Alefosio, Villa Park, DE/TE

Mavin Anderson, Mission Viejo, WR

Noah Avinger, Servite, CB

Cole Batson, San Clemente, WR/DB

James Bohls, San Clemente, RB

Thomas Bouda, Corona del Mar, OL

Braeden Boyles, Edison, QB

Dane Brenton, Marina, WR/DB

Micah Carreon, Mission Viejo, OL/DL

Peter Costelli, Mission Viejo, QB

Brody Crane, JSerra, C

Jaylin Davies, Mater Dei, CB

Raesjon Davis, Mater Dei, LB

Cristian Dixon, Mater Dei, WR

Zamajay Duncan, JSerra, CB

Ryan Easterday, Edison, OL

Giulio Fernandes, El Toro, LB

Ryder Fitch, Mission Viejo, CB

Colt Fulton, Santa Margarita, QB

Jake Garcia, La Habra, QB

Jaden Genova, JSerra, LB

Sammy Green, JSerra, RB/CB

Tommy Griffin, Corona del Mar, DB

Colt Fulton, Santa Margarita, QB

JT Hand, Mission Viejo, OL

Carson Irons, Sunny Hills, LB

Mitch Leigber, Laguna Hills, RB/S

Easton Mascarenas, Mission Viejo, LB

Justin McCoy, Newport Harbor, RB

Earnest McDaniel, JSerra, WR

George Miki-Han, Mater Dei, C

Dartanyon Moussiaux, Capistrano Valley, QB

Mason Murphy, JSerra, OL

Tyler Narayan, Mater Dei, DT

Nick Ostlund, St. Margaret’s, DL

Daylen Pedroza, Orange, QB

Bryce Phillips, La Habra, CB

Mason Randolph, Yorba Linda, OL

RJ Regan, Orange Lutheran, CB

Brantt Riederich, Marina, RB/LB

Caiden Robertson, San Clemente, LB

Jacquez Robertson, Mission Viejo, RB

Drew Sulick, Santa Margarita, LB

Brandon Vasquez, La Habra, WR

Angel Vega, Segerstrom, QB

Kyron Ware-Hudson, Mater Dei, WR

Tristen Webb, Orange Lutheran, OL

Jason White, Orange Lutheran, OL

Derek Wilkins, Santa Margarita, DE

Marceese Yetts, Mater Dei, RB

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California’s housing crisis and reality

As he was running for governor, Gavin Newsom repeatedly and emphatically promised to attack California’s housing shortage head-on, pledging in an online article to “lead the effort to develop the 3.5 million new housing units we need by 2025 because our solutions must be as bold as the problem is big.”

During his inaugural address in January, Newsom said he would implement “a Marshall Plan for affordable housing,” likening it to the reconstruction of Europe after World War II.

As Newsom completes his first year as governor, however, housing construction is shrinking. A bulletin issued last week by his Department of Finance says that 112,000 new housing starts had been authorized through October, down from 121,000 during the same 10-month period of 2018.

Newsom’s promises have also been shrinking. He’s taken to calling the 3.5-million-unit pledge “a stretch goal” and told the Los Angeles Times, “It’s a stubborn issue. You can’t snap your fingers and build hundreds of thousands, millions of housing units overnight.”

Well, no you can’t. And he should have known that building 3.5 million units by 2025 was an economic and physical impossibility.

It would have required building an average of 500,000 units each year for seven years, more than twice the state’s highest-ever production year, at least $200 billion a year in investment, and hundreds of thousands of additional construction workers.

It was never going to happen — and perhaps it shouldn’t.

The 3.5 million figure comes from a 2016 study by McKinsey & Company on the San Francisco Bay Area’s very tight housing picture, based on an assumption that California should have the same per capita housing level as New York, despite obvious demographic and cultural differences.

A critical examination of the McKinsey conclusion by the Palo Alto-based Embarcadero Institute contends, logically, that Texas would be a better basis for comparison and using it indicates that California needs another 1.5 million units, not 3.5 million. Based on nationwide housing trends, the Embarcadero study concludes, the number would be 1.4 million.

Those lower numbers would translate into a need for about 200,000 housing starts a year, which comports with the state’s official goal of 180,000 units a year or 1.1 million by 2025, still much higher than current production but in line with what’s happened in years past.

So while California may not need 3.5 million new units, it still has an acute shortage that would take tens of billions of dollars in annual investment — plus political will and thousands of more construction workers — to erase.

It can’t happen overnight, as Newsom now — and belatedly — concedes, but it could happen if all the ingredients could be assembled.

This year, the Legislature and Newsom took a few baby steps toward overcoming the resistance to affordable housing, such as authorizing more auxiliary housing, known as “granny flats” or “casitas,” on single-family lots.

However, they also passed a rent control law that, if anything, will discourage the increased private investment that’s vital if housing production is to significantly increase.

Meanwhile, a new report by a team of attorneys at two University of California law schools postulates that under-the-radar laws, including several passed this year, collectively give Newsom’s Department of Housing and Community Development some serious new powers to force communities to accept more housing, overcoming “not-in-my-backyard” sentiments.

“When he was running for office, Governor Newsom boldly announced that he would more than triple California’s rate of housing production,” the study’s authors point out. “The ball is in his court.”

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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Caltrans must be held accountable for misspent funds

It was clear from the beginning that voters didn’t trust Sacramento to spend new gas tax revenue for its promised purposes.

In the push to pass Senate Bill 1 in 2017, Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature agreed to put a “lock box” measure on the ballot to protect the new transportation revenue from budget raids, and they also agreed to create a new position at Caltrans — an independent inspector general with the authority to investigate transportation projects and make sure public dollars are spent appropriately and legally.

Senate Bill 1 passed narrowly, sharply raising taxes on gasoline and diesel along with a noticeable hike in vehicle registration fees. Californians were told the revenue from the tax increase would be used to repair roads and bridges and fund transit improvements.

Clearly skeptical, voters passed the “lock box” measure, Proposition 69 on the June 2018 ballot, with over 80% of the vote. Yet the lock appeared to be picked earlier this year when Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order to redirect transportation funds to projects that address climate change.

Even before that, Newsom threatened to withhold SB1 funds from cities that failed to build enough housing. That proposal met with resistance and appears to have been dropped. Still, the entire exercise has only served to increase cause for suspicion about diversions of tax revenue away from the use that was promised.

The independent inspector general may be off to a better start. Rhonda L. Craft was appointed to the position five months ago and has just presented her first report at a meeting of the California Transportation Commission.

Craft’s report detailed the results of 70 audits and 400 reviews. For the fiscal year that ended June 30, the auditors found $13 million in “disallowed” expenditures for the fiscal year that ended June 30. This included $7.4 million of bond funds were spent improperly for programs covered by the $19.9 billion transportation bond, Proposition 1B, approved by state voters in 2006.

The auditors found no misuse of SB1 funds, but then, it’s still early.

Craft’s team also investigated hundreds of complaints about Caltrans employees. They substantiated wrongdoing in 28 cases, including some that involved falsification of documents, misuse of state computers and vehicles, conflicts of interest and substance abuse.

Assemblyman Vince Fong, R-Bakersfield, who is vice chairman of the Assembly Transportation Committee, said “the status quo is not acceptable.” Transportation Commissioner Yvonne Burke said, “We think that if there are issues that have to be addressed they should be addressed.” Caltrans spokesman Matt Rocco said Caltrans has recouped $1.3 million and will work to improve its processes.

No one should make the mistake of thinking they can issue a statement saying the right thing and then go back to ignoring the problem.

Californians pay the highest fuel taxes in the nation, and Caltrans’ budget is $14.2 billion. There is no excuse for crumbling roads and bridges or for wasteful contracts that enrich consultants without improving transit systems. Elected officials should be doing more to make sure the taxpayers’ money is well spent.

Caltrans should be held accountable, and so should elected officials if they look the other way as consultants and contractors milk the system.

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Lessons from Orange County’s 1994 bankruptcy: John Moorlach

What lessons have we learned 25 years after Orange County’s 1994 bankruptcy?

The economy controls what the government can do. When local government bureaucrats and elected officials believe they can rely on rosy economic trends, that’s when a fiscal calamity is just around the corner. It’s a classic case of the tail wagging the dog.

It takes a few stumbles by some municipalities before others conclude that trying to be a hero by pursuing higher investment yields in the bond market usually results in a disaster.  Investing short-term cash balances should not be a difficult assignment. It’s as simple as keeping funds in a bank or money market fund.

But, when large balances are involved, there’s always a salesperson to entice unsophisticated bureaucrats with the lure of higher yields with a fail-safe gimmick.  One technique is known as the carry trade, where one borrows at a low-interest rate and invests in higher-yielding longer-term bonds. However, one should never underestimate the power of the yield curve and the direct economic forces impacting its direction. And, don’t forget, when interest rates rise, the bonds’ value declines.

As a result of Orange County’s embarrassing and costly implosion in 1994, the Government Accounting Standards Board issued pronouncement Number 31 in 1997. It required that municipalities report their cash and other investments at market values in their audited financial statements. This approach, known as marking to market, was something I vociferously advocated during my 1994 campaign to replace Bob Citron, the Orange County treasurer-tax collector whose disastrous investment strategy caused the infamous bankruptcy protection filing.

The investment of surplus cash would also change dramatically around the nation. Portfolio managers would keep their investments short-term, with a weighted average maturity closer to 30 days. Citron’s average durations were measured in years, not days.

Although the nation has not seen a similar investment faux pas matching Orange County’s, it has seen the power of interest rates and the fixed income market. The liquidity crisis of 2008 had a major impact on short-term interest rates and would make well known a new gimmick provided by slick salespeople, “interest rate swaps,” which led to imploding municipalities.

A famous example is Jefferson County in Alabama. It filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection in 2011 as a result of high rates at the short end of the yield curve that increased borrowing costs to the point of making it unsustainable on a $4 billion blended bond issuance. This county, which includes the city of Birmingham, would push Orange County out of first place for the size of a municipal bankruptcy filing.

Three California cities sought relief in a Federal bankruptcy courtroom for old-fashioned reasons: Vallejo in 2010 and Stockton and San Bernardino in 2012 found that pension costs were consuming a massive portion of their annual budgets.

Then there was Detroit, which became the largest Chapter 9 bankruptcy filing in 2013, addressing $18.5 billion in debts, mostly for pensions. That pushed Orange County into third place.

Today we are feeling low interest rates over a historically lengthy period in other investment areas. The biggest casualties are the defined benefit pension plans that have assumed high annual rates of return to provide benefits to retirees. It is difficult to achieve an annual rate of return of 7 percent when, as with most public pensions today, a major component of the portfolio is invested in the bond market.  It forces a heavier demand on the equities in pension portfolios to achieve higher returns.

Twenty-five years after the Orange County bankruptcy and the yield curve’s direction is still wreaking havoc on municipalities with unsophisticated and greedy elected officials and union leaders who believed a salesperson who provided a fail-safe gimmick to enhance retirement benefits.

Unfortunately, this time nationally we’re not talking about billions of dollars at risk, we’re talking trillions. So much for assuming you can rely on the economy and the direction of interest rates.

Get ready for more bankruptcy protection filings in the years to come, as the tail does not wag the dog.

John M.W Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, represents the 37th District in the California Senate.

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Rise of the Resistance: I rode Disney’s new Star Wars attraction 4 times and here’s what it’s like

I didn’t expect to be smiling from ear to ear on the new Rise of the Resistance attraction coming to Disneyland as I was captured aboard a Star Destroyer, marched to a jail cell by a First Order officer barking commands and menacingly chased by Star Wars villain Kylo Ren.

But I couldn’t wipe the smile from my face as I rode the new state-of-the-art E-ticket attraction four times on Tuesday, Dec. 3, during a media preview in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida.

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Rise of the Resistance will leave you wondering again and again how Walt Disney Imagineering pulled off one visual illusion after another, with each scene somehow outdoing the last. Disney’s new Star Wars attraction redefines what E-ticket stands for: Extraordinary.

The highly anticipated Rise of the Resistance debuts Thursday, Dec. 5, at the Orlando-area theme park to out-of-this-world expectations and at every step of the way the attraction exceeds them with a ride experience unlike anything anyone has ever encountered in a theme park. A carbon copy of the ride opens at Batuu West in Disneyland on Jan. 17.

  • First Order Stormtroopers await guests as they arrive in the hangar bay of a Star Destroyer as part of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, the new attraction opening Thursday, Dec. 5 inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida and Jan. 17 at Disneyland in Anaheim. (Photo by Matt Stroshane, Disney)

  • Guests dodge turbolaser cannons as they attempt to escape a First Order Star Destroyer as part of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, the new attraction opening Thursday, Dec. 5 inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida and Jan. 17 at Disneyland in Anaheim. (Photo by Matt Stroshane, Disney)

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  • Poe Dameron’s X-wing starfighter, Black One, appears in Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, opening Thursday, Dec. 5 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida and Jan. 17 at Disneyland in Anaheim. Poe escorts guests off Batuu as they attempt to rendezvous with General Leia Organa in this groundbreaking new attraction inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. (Photo by Kent Phillips, Disney)

  • A First Order Stormtrooper stands guard in a Star Destroyer hangar bay beneath a docked TIE fighter in Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, the new attraction opening Thursday, Dec. 5 inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida and Jan. 17 at Disneyland in Anaheim. Guests enter the hangar bay after their ship is caught in the Star Destroyer’s tractor beam. (Photo by Matt Stroshane, Disney)

  • Guests race past massive AT-AT walkers aboard a First Order Star Destroyer as part of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, the new attraction opening Thursday, Dec. 5 inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida and Jan. 17 at Disneyland in Anaheim. (Photo by Matt Stroshane, Disneyr)

  • BB-8 greets guests inside the makeshift briefing room as part of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, the new attraction opening Thursday, Dec. 5 inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida and Jan. 17 at Disneyland in Anaheim. (Photo by Matt Stroshane, Disney)

  • Lieutenant Bek, a Mon Calamari Resistance officer, speaks with guests aboard an Intersystem Transport Ship as they blast off Batuu in Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, the new attraction opening Thursday, Dec. 5 inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida and Jan. 17 at Disneyland in Anaheim. (Photo by Kent Phillips, Disney)

  • Fifty menacing First Order Stormtroopers await guests as they arrive in the hangar bay of a Star Destroyer as part of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, the new attraction opening Thursday, Dec. 5 inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida and Jan. 17 at Disneyland in Anaheim. (Matt Stroshane, photographer)

  • Guests board a First Order Short-Range Evacuation Vehicle – otherwise known as an escape pod – in Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, in Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, the new attraction opening Thursday, Dec. 5 inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida and Jan. 1 at Disneyland in Anaheim. (Photo by Steven Diaz, Disney)

  • First Order troops and stormtroopers patrol the hangar bay of a Star Destroyer in Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, the new attraction opening Thursday, Dec. 5 inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida and Jan. 17 at Disneyland in Anaheim. (Photo by Matt Stroshane, Disney)

  • Guests board an Intersystem Transport Ship to blast off Batuu alongside other Resistance recruits as part of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, opening Thursday, Dec. 5 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida and Jan. 17 at Disneyland in Anaheim. The groundbreaking new attraction inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge takes guests into a climactic battle between the Resistance and the First Order. (Photo by Kent Phillips, Disney)

  • As guests move through the queue in Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, they see flight suits and other military equipment inside the Resistance encampment. The queue sets the stage for the new attraction, opening Thursday, Dec. 5 inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida Jan. 17, 2020, at Disneyland in Anaheim. (Photo by Matt Stroshane, Disney)

  • First Order R5-series astromech droids pilot troop transports onboard a Star Destroyer in Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, the new attraction opening Thursday, Dec. 5 inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida and Jan. 17 at Disneyland in Anaheim. (Photo by Kent Phillips, Disney)

  • As guests move through the queue in Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, they see flight suits and other military equipment inside the Resistance encampment. The queue sets the stage for the new attraction, opening Thursday, Dec. 5 inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida and Jan. 17 at Disneyland in Anaheim. (Photo by Matt Stroshane, Disney)

  • Guests see Poe Dameron’s X-wing starfighter, Black One (foreground), and board an Intersystem Transport Ship (background) as part of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, the new attraction opening Thursday, Dec. 5 inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida and Jan. 17, at Disneyland in Anaheim. (Photo by Kent Phillips, Disney)

  • Fifty menacing First Order Stormtroopers await guests as they arrive in the hangar bay of a Star Destroyer as part of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, the new attraction opening Thursday, Dec. 5 inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida and Jan. 17 at Disneyland in Anaheim. (Photo by Matt Stroshane, Disney)

  • Guests flee First Order Stormtroopers onboard a Star Destroyer as part of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, the new attraction opening Thursday, Dec. 5 inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida and Jan. 17 at Disneyland in Anaheim. (Photo by Matt Stroshane, Disney)

  • Fifty menacing First Order Stormtroopers await guests as they arrive in the hangar bay of a Star Destroyer as part of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, the new attraction opening Thursday, Dec. 5 inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida and Jan. 17 at Disneyland in Anaheim. (Photo by Matt Stroshane, Disney)

  • Guests race past massive AT-AT walkers aboard a First Order Star Destroyer as part of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, the new attraction opening Thursday, Dec. 5 inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida and Jan. 17 at Disneyland in Anaheim. (Photo by Matt Stroshane, Disney)

  • First Order Stormtroopers await guests as they arrive in the hangar bay of a Star Destroyer as part of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, the new attraction opening Thursday, Dec. 5 inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida and Jan. 17 at Disneyland Park in Anaheim. (Photo by Matt Stroshane, Disney)

  • Guests come face to face with First Order Supreme Leader Kylo Ren as they stumble into the bridge of a Star Destroyer in Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, the new attraction opening Thursday, Dec. 5 inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida and Jan. 17 at Disneyland in Anaheim. (Photo by Steven Diaz, Disney)

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The ride, billed as four attractions in one, lasts an astonishing 15 minutes but rarely slows down during the epic interstellar journey. Unfortunately, 15 minutes is not enough. You’ll wish Rise of the Resistance was twice as long.

I constantly found myself wondering if the Stormtrooper aiming his blaster at me was an audio-animatronic figure or a digital projection. Blaster fire sliced through the air right in front of me, just like in the “Star Wars” movies. The laser blasts exploded with flying sparks all around my ride vehicle, seemingly blowing pieces out of the walls and ceiling right before my eyes.

Imagineering’s goal was to put riders in the middle of a “Star Wars” movie and they achieved this at every turn. BB-8 rolls out to greet us. Rey appears in a hologram message. Towering AT-ATs fire at us as we flee. Lightsabers carve holes in the ceiling. Rise of the Resistance is everything Star Wars fans have been hoping and waiting for. And then some.

Riders meet Kylo Ren in several forms throughout the ride — from animatronic figures to digital images to a startling stalking special effect that makes it look like the masked villain is heading right for your ride vehicle with his crossguard lightsaber drawn.

The journey begins with a realistic ride aboard a Resistance transport shuttle with a floor that rattles and tilts as the ship takes off from the Star Wars planet of Batuu, the setting for the twin Galaxy’s Edge themed lands in California and Florida. The swift departure plays out on screens at both ends off the ship that riders can wander around and explore during the off-planet flight.

I could almost reach out and touch the lifelike Lt. Bek animatronic that sat in the cockpit of the transport ship. The amphibious Mon Calamari creature peers at riders with bulbous eyes that protrude from either side of its fish-like head.

Before long, the transport shuttle gets trapped in a tractor beam and captured by a First Order Star Destroyer. Riders are deposited on the Star Destroyer and greeted by a Disney cast member playing a First Order officer. The ill-tempered and downright rude officer is unlike any Disney employee you’ve ever met in a theme park, trading smiles and niceties for insults and orders.

The captured “Resistance scum” is marched out of the transport into a Death Star hangar bay that will simply make your jaw drop. I found myself repeating one simple exclamation each time I entered the hangar: Wow. A 100-foot-wide space window serves as an interstellar backdrop to rows of approximately 50 stormtroopers, about 40 percent of them animatronic. The shock troops stand at attention as a few of them seemingly follow your movements as you head off to a jail cell.

Everywhere you look is Star Wars. The entire attraction is a 360-degree scene out of a movie. It feels like you’re really on a Star Destroyer in outer space. The illusion is complete. Imagineering has recreated the look and feel of a Star Destroyer — right down to the droid ports where astromechs can plug into the ship. And you can reach out and touch it all.

After escaping the detention cell — I won’t tell you how, so as not to spoil the surprise — the Resistance-recruits-turned-prisoners hop on a dark ride vehicle in a daring attempt to escape. Unlike most dark rides, you’ll have to buckle up. You’ll find out why later. But for now, let’s just say this is not your average dark ride.

The dark ride portion of the attraction takes you past booming cannons, through the legs of towering AT-AT walkers and up to the bridge of the Star Destroyer.

The Kylo Ren animatronics are amazing feats of engineering. It’s rare that you see a full-figure animatronic from his head to his toes. But you can see the character’s feet move and you’ll be left wondering how Imagineering created such a nimble animatronic figure.

The finale drops riders into an escape pod — the reason for that seat belt. I won’t spoil the experience except to say that the fourth and final ride element combines a Star Tours-like motion-base simulator with a drop similar to Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission: Breakout. See if you can figure out how Disney did it. I couldn’t.

The biggest surprise comes at the end as the ride vehicle slips outdoors to unload riders inside the carcass of a massive crashed spaceship.

If you’re like me, you’ll find yourself wanting to linger in each new space you encounter in Rise of the Resistance. Every scene has so many visuals to drink in that you can’t see them all in a single ride. The experience moves at such a quick clip that you can’t see everything. Which is what makes a great ride — and the kind of problem you’d like to have. You’ll just need to get in line again.

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Bosco’s Bravehearts ride their defense to an amazing comeback

NORWALK — They blitzed him from all sides, encroaching him en masse, collapsing his pocket. All the while, D.J. Uiagalelei couldn’t stop laughing.

They were St. John Bosco classmates, friends, parents of friends, parents of classmates, little brothers and sisters and maybe some strangers, too. They took turns posing for selfies with Uiagalelei, as if he were a famous statue. Some hugged him. Some just looked in his eyes and yelled, overcome with delight.

They will see Uiagalelei play one more high school football game, one more than any of them could have imagined in the second quarter of this CIF Southern Section Division 1 championship game at Cerritos College Saturday night. At one point the Braves trailed Mater Dei, 28-5. They won, 39-34, and someone asked safety JonJon Vaughns where they could have found such hope. “When you have heart, you have hope,” he said.

Bravehearts, indeed. Talent helps, too.


St. John Bosco Braves head coach Jason Negro, left, holds the championship placard over quarterback DJ Uiagalelei (5) at the end of the 2019 CIF Southern Section Division 1 High School Football Championship game at Cerritos College in Norwalk, Calif. on Saturday November 30, 2019. St. John Bosco Braves defeated the Mater Dei Monarchs 39-34. (Photo by Raul Romero Jr, Contributing Photographer)

Uiagalelei will lead the Braves against De La Salle two weekends from now, in a state championship game. After that, his next appearance will be on behalf of Clemson. He looked the part here, with five touchdown passes, no interceptions and 441 yards. At one point the Braves scored 34 consecutive points.

But the defense was the driving force, at least after it gave up two touchdowns in Mater Dei’s first six plays. After that, the Monarchs scored only 20 more points, six in the second half, and even though Bryce Young threw five TD passes of his own, Mater Dei suffered four turnovers, and Bosco’s pass rushers painted Young into a deeper corner with each snap. The Braves held the Monarchs to 139 yards in the second half.

“We couldn’t let Bryce run around like he usually does,” said Nathan Burrell, who had two sacks, blitzed Young into an intentional grounding call in the end zone, which is a safety, and tipped a pass and intercepted it in the fourth quarter.

“He’s more dangerous on the outside than the inside,” Burrell said. “And we started running some games as the game went on, gave their linemen some different looks. They don’t like to move like that.”

“We sat back and tried to control Bryce and make him throw the ball down the field,” said Jason Negro, the Bosco coach. “That’s when we were able to make plays. I think we might have confused him and made him change some things on the line of scrimmage. And we moved Nathan around quite a bit.”

Mater Dei had a final shot when Negro decided to go for fourth-and-1 in his own territory. Uiagalelei tried to sneak it but was stacked up by Tyler Narayan among others. But Ma’a Gaoteote broke free and sacked Young, who fumbled it to Bosco’s Andrew Simpson.

Mater Dei had won its previous three games by a total of 102 points and had failed to win by fewer than 20 points only twice. They also had beaten Bosco 38-24 on Oct. 25. Sometimes you can be too good for your own good, although the Braves weren’t accustomed to contentious fourth quarters either, with only one close win of their own (27-26 at Servite).

“On that last sack we were in the wrong protection,” said Bruce Rollinson, the Monarchs’ coach. “They brought a seventh guy and we didn’t see him. Bryce was great, he made all the calls the whole game. We had opportunities, and when we’ve had opportunities this year we’ve always capitalized. Tonight we didn’t, and that’s high school football.

“We were ahead, and we told them at halftime just to erase everything that had happened. But that’s a good team over there.”

Bosco didn’t let Young or anyone else run, although Mater Dei only rushed 16 times, for 32 yards. “We knew they really wanted to throw the ball, which helped us,” Burrell said.

The other key was removing Kody Epps, who had caught 11 passes for 175 yards in the regular-season victory. Epps caught just one pass Saturday, none in the first half.

“We had to double-team him,” Vaughns said. “Definitely we double-teamed him in the slot, and when he was wide we moved a safety over to that side. Everybody else was on an island. We couldn’t let him hurt us like we did before.

“I told my D-linemen that we were going to give them six seconds. We were going to cover them for six seconds, so y’all go get him (Young). They did a great job, but I thought after halftime our whole offense and defense were rolling.”

Nobody on the field was ready to go home yet. It was a boisterous, somewhat bitter game, but now Braves and Monarchs were chatting in peace. As Vaughns said, many of the players had known each other since youth football. They’ve been in all-star games together, been on the same recruiting trips.

But the magnet was Uiagalelei, greeting all comers like a politician on a rope line.

“We’ve seen him do this so many times before,” Burrell said. “D.J.’s a god.”

His disciples weren’t bad either.

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Giving thanks matters: Joel Kotkin

Thanksgiving may be approaching, but its chief value, that of gratitude, seems oddly out of fashion. When the Pilgrims broke bread with their Native American neighbors, it was with full appreciation of the role of Providence in their salvation.

Such a sense of appreciation is increasingly rare. Most Americans, according to a Templeton Foundation survey, feel they receive little gratitude at home or the office. The feeling of gratitude appears to drop with age. Today’s millennials are the least grateful. This is not surprising given the new generations’ low levels of interest in the very things we are likely to feel grateful for, such as family, religion or America itself.

Older people, who often have overcome hard times, are more grateful. They witnessed the triumph of liberal democracy over communism. Many of them, like me, were raised by parents who came from poverty, and instilled the notion that, for all our problems, living here, at this time, in this country, is a manifest blessing not to demeaned or ignored.

The roots of ingratitude

This loss of gratefulness, not unique to this country, is tied to the decline of critical social conventions that long held society together. The religious nature of the Thanksgiving was self-evident to the Puritans who settled New England, but it was also deeply communal, a shared experience between family, neighbors and congregants. “We must delight in each other, make others’ own, rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together,” as colonial leader John Winthrop put it.

Religion, for all its undoubted spurs to divisiveness, underpinned their sense of gratitude that extended well beyond the Puritans. It later inspired even outsiders, such as Jews, Latinos and African Americans, to celebrate the New England experience. As Americans, we all embraced the notion that we were all fortunate for the blessings of home and family, even when paltry, that divinity bequeathed to us.

This connection is now being severed, particularly among the young. Religious affiliation has dropped precipitously, notes the Pew Research Center, with the fastest growth being those with no affiliation. This is particularly true among the young, where “nones” account for nearly one in three, twice the percentage among boomers. Among this demographic the non-affiliated are more numerous than all the Protestant denominations put together.

With the decline in religious observance, Thanksgiving, not surprisingly, seems to have lost its spiritual essence. It is a holiday now more identified with football and gluttony than anything of spiritual value.

The decline of family

Like religion, the institution of the family, a centerpiece of Thanksgiving, suffers a seemingly irreversible decline. Since 1960 the percentage of children raised in intact homes, notes Pew, fell from 73 percent to 61 percent in 1980 and 46 percent today. This lack of family network, as Mary Eberstadt points out in her new book “Primal Screams,” leaves children increasingly unsocialized, and less capable of establishing healthy relations on their own.

Eberstadt notes that ever-smaller families, particularly the increasing share of only children, have obliterated the wider networks that connected young people with cousins, uncles and aunts. I tell my daughters that on Thanksgiving and Passover back in New York, we used to play football games between cousins, something they may never experience.

With family and community ties weakened, Eberstadt notes, more people, again particularly the young, seek to embrace not the overall community, but an “identity” group. These are often based on grievance ideology built around sexual preference, race, gender identity or physical disability. Such identarian ideology is particularly common in our key intellectual centers such as Manhattan, where a majority of households are single. The hotbeds of identity politics — San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle and Boston — all have among the lowest rates of family formation in the nation.

Counter-patriotism

Thanksgiving has long been part of the American story, a critical part of its identity. To be sure the sanitized versions of the first Thanksgiving almost 300 years ago were often cartoonish and ignored the suffering meted out by New England’s settlers to both Native Americans and religious dissenters. Yet it remained an uplifting part of our national story, based on the notion that all Americans had common cause to celebrate their life in this amazing country.

This loss of faith is particularly marked among the young. Nearly 40 percent of young Americans, for example, think the country lacks “a history to be proud of,” less than half the average for boomers. One-third of young Americans, according to one recent survey, have a favorable view of communism and most seem ready to jettison the market system essential to America’s evolution.

This is not surprising for a generation that has been educated under a system increasingly dominated by social justice warriors to believe that America is a hopelessly flawed country. Here the proposed California ethnic studies program, for example, takes a basically hostile approach to American history, essentially turning it into a tale of racial and other repression. This approach is increasingly the case even in the Heartland and is widely promoted by the National Education Association, the powerful teacher union.

A greater appreciation for what is

In America 51 percent of people under 30 believe that the world will be uninhabitable within 15 years. Not surprisingly, they and their Gen Z successors are also arguably the most chronically anxious generation in recent history, with high use of opioids and historically high suicide rates.

It’s the task of older generations to remind their successors that although the country and the world clearly faces great challenges, they indeed do have much to be grateful for, starting with the fact that America and the world is now enjoying the largest growth in affluence in its history. Indeed, in the face of decades of apocalyptic predictions of energy and food shortages by the green zealots, both are remarkably abundant by historical standards.

They should also realize that on many levels the environment — notably air and water — is actually cleaner than they were a half century ago, while any long-dreaded diseases have been eliminated, not only here but in many developing countries. For this, at least, they should thank visionary political leaders in both parties, our remarkable scientific and medical communities.

Our failure, as mentors and parents, has come by not countering a cultural and political culture that undermines all those things we should be grateful. We have stood back, while much of our media and schools consciously promote divisiveness and distrust as they both demonize our past and predict an apocalyptic future.

If the notion of gratitude is fading among the young, it is in part because the previous generation has done a poor job of communicating the blessings with which we have been endowed. If the Puritans, freezing in the New England fall and simply relieved not to be starving, could feel gratitude about the world, perhaps we, living in unimaginable physical comfort and freedom, should take the hint and emulate them.

Joel Kotkin is the R.C. Hobbs Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University and executive director of the Houston-based Center for Opportunity Urbanism (www.opportunityurbanism.org).

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Football roundup: Cypress, Hurtado rally on the road to stun Ventura in quarterfinals

Cypress’ football team rallied from a 17-point deficit on the road to defeat Ventura 33-31 in a wild, CIF-SS Division 7 quarterfinal game Friday.

The Empire League champion Centurions (12-0) erupted for 33 unanswered points and then held on to extend the best start in school history.

Coach Rick Feldman’s fourth-seeded squad will play host to top-seeded Serrano (12-0) in the semifinals at Western High next week in a duel of undefeated teams.

Cypress led 33-17 with about three minutes left. Ventura (6-6) then scored and added the 2-point conversion to trim the lead to 33-25.

Ventura recovered an onside kick and scored again to trim the lead to 33-31 but Cypress stopped the 2-point conversion.

Standout running back Isaac Hurtado recovered another onside kick to cap an outstanding game. He rushed for 361 yards on 30 carries. He rushed for five touchdowns, including a 96-yard TD run.

Temecula Valley and West Ranch will clash in the other semifinal.

In Division 8:

Sunny Hills 49, Notre Dame of Riverside 24: Senior quarterback Luke Duxbury tossed two touchdowns and senior running back Jun Ahn rushed for three scores at Buena Park High as the top-seeded Lancers (10-2) reached the semifinals.

Sophomore Brandon Roberts also caught a touchdown and rushed for another score and Wilson Cal added six catches for 102 yards and a score.

Sunny Hills will play Trabuco Hills, a 34-7 winner against San Gorgonio, in the semifinals.

In late September, the Lancers defeated the host Mustangs 41-34.

In Division 11:

Marina 24, Ontario Christian 21: The host and No. 2 seeded Vikings (10-2) advanced to the semifinals for the first time since 1984. They will play Hemet (8-4) in next week.

More results to come. 

 

 

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Football roundup: Trabuco Hills’ late, goal-line stand holds off Aliso Niguel

Trabuco Hills forced an incomplete pass from its 3-yard line on the final play Friday to hold on for a 26-21 victory against host Aliso Niguel that settled second place in the Sea View League and rattled the CIF-SS Division 8 rankings.

The Mustangs (6-4, 3-1), ranked sixth in Division 8, knocked off the No. 1 Wolverines (7-3, 2-2) for second place behind San Juan Hills (4-0 in league).

Aliso Niguel coach Kurt Westling said late Friday night that he still believes his team will make the playoffs. The draw will be announced Sunday.

The Mustangs’ defense and special teams played well. Senior Chris Crow blocked a punt and that led to a touchdown. Crow and Anthony Raugi also had interceptions.

Sophomore Drew Barrett and Aiden Armstrong each rushed for scores for Trabuco Hills while Luke Holland kicked two field goals.

Trabuco Hills finished 2-8 for the third consecutive year in 2018 and missed the playoffs but has improved under first-year coach Mark Nolan.

More results to come

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Man shot, wounded at Santa Ana Halloween party

SANTA ANA — A man was hospitalized this morning with non-life threatening injuries suffered in a shooting at a Halloween party in Santa Ana.

Officers responded to a shots-fired call at a home in the 2200 block of South Orange Avenue, near East Anahurst Place, about 11 p.m. Thursday and found a man down in the street with two gunshot wounds to the upper body, according to Cmdr. Joe Marty of the Santa Ana Police Department.

The victim was taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries, Marty said.

A Halloween party was taking place in the backyard of home when the shooting occurred, Marty said.

A detailed description of the suspect was not immediately available. A motive for the shooting was not disclosed.

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