Starting the high school football week in Orange County with notes, comments and observations …
1. This is how to start a season: Orange Lutheran trailed by 17 points in the third quarter of its season opener Friday against Serra, which at the time was the No. 10 team in the CalHiSports.com state rankings.
Orange Lutheran won 27-26.
Sophomore quarterback TJ Lateef was outstanding. Over the final 20 minutes of the game he completed 15 of 18 passes including two touchdown passes.
The Lancers have several other sophomores at key positions. It was the seniors, though, that made some of the bigger plays of the rally.
Senior kicker Dieter Kelly started the comeback with a 35-yard field goal in the third quarter to make it 20-6. Senior running back Antonio Barrera caught an 8-yard touchdown pass and Kelly added the extra-point kick to close within 20-13. Kelly would be 3 for 3 on PATs; that would be crucial.
A perfectly-placed pooch kickoff by Kelly was recovered by senior Keon Washington at the Serra 26-yard line. A few plays later Barrera blasted into the end zone on a 5-yard run and the Kelly PAT tied it 20-20.
Serra with 4:32 left in the game got a touchdown, its point-after attempt failed and the score was 26-20. The Orange Lutheran winning drive included a 23-yard catch by senior Khanrad Hernandez, a 9-yard run by Barrera that gave the Lancers first down at the Serra 2, and Barrera scored on a 6-yard run and Kelly was successful again with the extra-point kick for the 27-26 lead with 36 seconds to go.
2. Orange vs. Villa Park. Orange made a rapid rise to become one of the better programs in the county. Villa Park’s been the best team in that section of Orange County for most of the past decade-plus. It’s Orange vs. Villa Park on Friday at El Modena High in a game that the home-team Panthers long have been anticipating.
3. JSerra making moves: JSerra beat Sierra Canyon 31-17 in week 0. The win was something of a surprise, the two-touchdown margin more so. JSerra is No. 8 in this week’s Orange County top 25, and if the Lions continue to play like they did last week they will be in the top 10 all season.
4. Valley high: Santa Ana Valley was 2-8 last season and 0-5 in the COVID-curtailed 2020 season. The Falcons opened 2022 last week with a 34-16 win over Ocean View, so maybe Valley is going to have a turnaround season. The Falcons play Friday against neighborhood rival Segerstrom, which has been the best team in the south section of Santa Ana for several years.
5. “Rollo” still rolling: Mater Dei shut out West of Salt Lake City 42-0 last week. West had won 18 of its previous 23 games, so this was no pushover the Monarchs defeated.
As the score displays, Mater Dei was excellent. Defensive domination and only three penalties for 35 yards.
Mater Dei coach Bruce Rollinson, not happy with three lost turnovers, said: “People want to say ‘first game,’ not Mater Dei. We’ve been practicing since January to avoid those types of things.”
He is in his 34th year at the job and he’s won everything he could win, yet Rollinson is as fired up as ever.
6. Quarterbacks: We have plenty of good ones, as usual, in the county. Last week Canyon’s Christian Lundsberg completed 27 of 33 passes for 412 yards and six touchdowns, Corona del Mar’s David Rasor completed 23 of 31 passes for 224 yards and three touchdowns, Capistrano Valley’s Trey Kukuk passed for 237 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 189 yards and four touchdowns and Newport Harbor’s Colton Joseph averaged 23 yards a completion while throwing for 297 yards and three touchdowns.
7. Pioneer pride: Western’s 42-0 win at Chino was a one-sided win we did not see coming. Led by junior quarterback Anthony Luna’s four touchdown passes, Malachi Alatorre’s 11 tackles and Ayden Ware’s two receiving touchdowns and nine tackles, the Pioneers showed they likely will go 5-0 in the Orange League again.
8. The going gets tough: Servite lost last week to Rancho Cucamonga 27-7. The Friars play Mission Viejo at Mission Viejo on Friday.
9. More than expected: Yes, it was expected that San Clemente would beat Oceanside. A 48-7 win, and at Oceanside, was not.
10. Don’t worry: La Habra lost to Upland 21-14. The Highlanders last season were 0-5 in nonleague games before going undefeated in the Freeway League and advancing to the quarterfinals of the CIF Southern Section Division 5 playoffs.