GAME OF THE WEEK
NO. 5 SANTA MARGARITA (4-1) VS. NO. 6 ORANGE LUTHERAN (4-1)
Where, when: Orange Coast College, Friday, 7 p.m.
Analysis: National rankings and common sense say Mater Dei and St. John Bosco are the two best teams in the Trinity League. Who is No. 3? This game will settle that. Santa Margarita is 3-1 on the field, with the loss to Los Alamitos by the ridiculous score of 69-49. The Eagles have a forfeit win over St. Augustine. Senior quarterback Jaxon Potter (6-4, 180) is living up to his potential, completing 67 percent of his passes for 1,099 yards and 13 touchdowns without an interception. Emmett Mosley is making a case for All-County receiver candidacy with 29 receptions for 366 yards and five touchdowns. The Eagles defense is without defensive end Collins Acheampong (6-7, 255), who will miss the remainder of his senior season because of a knee injury. Orange Lutheran opened the season with an impressive 27-26 win over Serra and has wins over Upland, Damien and Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks. The loss was to Edison 34-13. Lancers sophomore quarterback TJ Lateef, another of Orange County’s impressively polished non-seniors at the position, is third in county passing yardage at 1,365. Kaleb Marshall has 27 catches for 298 yards. Orange Lutheran has many non-seniors on defense who are learning as the season has progressed. That group has grown enough to be a winning factor in this great matchup.
Winner: Orange Lutheran
NO. 13 EL MODENA (5-0) VS. NO. 15 VILLA PARK (2-3)
Where, when: El Modena High, Thursday, 7 p.m.
Analysis: El Modena has not beaten Villa Park since 2007. This El Modena team could be the best one in Matt Mitchell’s seven seasons as coach of the Vanguards, and he has had some good ones, including last year’s team that was a CIF Southern Section Division 5 semifinalist. El Modena’s offense is driven by its running game that averages 222 rushing yards a game. Owen Smith has rushed for 489 yards. Villa Park is better than its record shows. The Spartans lost to three good teams, Silverado, Upland and Mira Costa. They beat county No. 17 Orange. While a variety of players have manned Villa Park’s quarterback position over the early weeks, Carter Christie has been a steady contributor at running back. Villa Park has been the best team in that part of Orange County for a long time. The 24-12 win over rising Orange is an example. El Modena is in great position to become that team in this nonleague game.
Winner: El Modena
Los Alamitos’ Makai Lemon (14) heads for the end zone in front of Servite’s Quinn Rosenkranz (10) during a non-league football game between Los Alamitos High and Servite High at Veterans Stadium in Long Beach CA on Friday, September 9, 2022.(Photo by Michael Goulding, Contributing Photographer)
NO. 3 LOS ALAMITOS (3-2) VS. NO. 12 NEWPORT HARBOR (4-1)
Where, when: Newport Harbor High, Friday, 7 p.m.
Analysis: The Los Alamitos offense is in tune, as it showed in a 69-49 win over Santa Margarita on Sept. 15. Quarterback Malachi Nelson and receiver Makai Lemon, both USC commits, are tightly tethered to one another. Running back Damian Henderson rushed for 303 yards against Santa Margarita, and more games like that are coming for him. The Los Alamitos defense got better Monday when junior defensive lineman T.A. Cunningham (6-6, 265) from Georgia became athletically eligible. Newport Harbor beat two good teams in back-to-back weeks, with close wins over Capistrano Valley and Trabuco Hills, before taking a bye last week. The Sailors have their offensive standouts, too. Quarterback Colton Joseph has thrown for 1,186 yards and 14 touchdowns. Kashton Henjum is second in the county in receiving yards with 700 for an average of 140 receiving yards a game. The momentum established by Los Alamitos will continue in this Sunset League opener.
Winner: Los Alamitos
Yorba Linda High quarterback Reyn Beal in Yorba Linda on Thursday, August 4, 2022. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)
NO. 7 YORBA LINDA (5-0) VS. NO. 22 EL DORADO (5-0)
Where, when: Valencia High, Friday, 7 p.m.
Analysis: This is the only game in the county this week matching two undefeated teams. Yorba Linda did not play last week after beating, in order, Damien, La Mirada, Orange, San Juan Hills and Simi Valley. Among Yorba Linda’s many strengths is its balanced offense; the Mustangs average 188 yards rushing a game and 169 yards passing a game. Mustangs senior quarterback Reyn Beal has thrown for 844 yards and eight touchdowns. William Saucedo leads the running attack with 546 yards and six rushing touchdowns. El Dorado’s average margin of victory was 36 points in its wins over Cerritos Valley Christian, Fountain Valley, Buena Park, Valencia and Chino. The Golden Hawks average 211 yards rushing a game, led by state champion wrestler Isaiah Quintero, who has rushed for 400 yards and eight touchdowns. El Dorado will find it difficult to have that sort of offensive success against Yorba Linda and its defense led by linebacker Wyatt Mosier.
Winner: Yorba Linda
La Habra running back Bryce Whitley breaks away for yardage against Bishop Amat in a non-league football game at La Habra High School in La Habra on Friday, August 26, 2022. (Sam Gangwer, Contributing Photographer)
NO. 25 LA HABRA (1-4) VS. TROY (4-1)
Where, when: Fullerton High, Friday, 7 p.m.
Analysis: La Habra has won 20 Freeway League championships over the 24 seasons Frank Mazzotta has been the team’s coach, and five consecutive league titles coming into this season. Will La Habra made it six in a row? This game could decide that. Troy might be La Habra’s toughest league challenge since 2016 when Buena Park defeated the Highlanders and won the league championship. La Habra went 0-5 in nonleague games last season before going 5-0 in league. This year’s Highlanders appear more vulnerable. Their last two games were one-sided losses to Orange 34-16 and last week to El Modena 43-6. Mazzotta is confident that now-eligible running back Brandon Giron will make a significant contribution to the La Habra offense. The four teams Troy beat in nonleague games are a combined 6-15. The Warriors’ loss was to Foothill 20-15. Their offensive leader is Fischer Huss, who has rushed for 679 yards and seven touchdowns and averages 10 yards a carry. Sometime teams that have beaten another team year after year have a psychological advantage. La Habra might have that over Troy.
Winner: La Habra
Fryer on Football last week: 5-0
Season to date: 19-11