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MISSION VIEJO — Mission Viejo clinched the unofficial title as the best high school 7-on-7 team in Southern California by capturing its South County tournament on Saturday. The Diablos even muscled their way to the top of the linemen competition but one question remained.
What do these sizzling, summertime results mean for the season? Or as Diablos coach Chad Johnson called the season, “real football.”
It means, at the very least, that Mission Viejo is real excited for the fall.
“I think this team has something special,” Johnson said after his team’s 36-21 win against surprising Warren in the finals. “When they were eighth graders, we were talking about this year when these guys were seniors and (Jack) Matranga and those guys were juniors. The combination was going to be good, and this is it.
“This is our shot. … This is the year we have a chance to make some noise. (We have) 16 returning starters.”
Mission Viejo’s passing attack again purred like a finely-tuned race car engine. The Diablos finished 7-0 overall one weekend after posting the same record at Edison’s Battle at the Beach passing tournament.
Ball State-committed quarterback Kadin Semonza spread the ball all over the field to various weapons. In the final, he tossed two touchdowns to Arizona committed wide receiver Jackson Holman and one apiece to wide receivers KJ Reed and Edward Schultz, and running back Isaiah Carreon.
In a semifinal victory against Santa Margarita, Semonza threw two TDs apiece to wide receiver Mikey Matthews and Holman, one to Schultz and one to running back Chase Valousky.
“(It’s) all the work we’ve put in,” Holman said of his team’s success. “All the chemistry we have together. This is our fourth year together. We have a bunch of senior guys, senior leaders.”
That leadership stretches to the defense, which held its own against quarterbacks such as Jaxon Potter of Santa Margarita and Darius Cowens of Warren, the former Pacifica standout.
One thing that experience allows Mission Viejo to do is show multiple defenses.
“We’re probably the best team that is rotating and messing with the QBs,” senior safety Carter Boskovich said. “Like show Cover 3, go to Cover 2, and show some other coverages.”
Mission Viejo roared after its linemen capped an undefeated day by defeating Millikan in the finals of the tug-of-war. With their teammates cheering just a few feet away, about nine linemen pulled Millikan the required five yards for the victory in the middle of the stadium field.
“It’s pretty good when we get our moment in the spotlight winning that tug-of-war,” senior nose guard Joseph Mendez said. “We’ve been working hard in the weight room, making sure we got stronger.”
.@missionfootball wins the tug of war v runner-up Millikan, sweeps every event in linemen competition @ocvarsity pic.twitter.com/Ff9Ty6LJ8b
— Dan Albano (@ocvarsityguy) July 16, 2022
In another linemen event, Mendez, linebacker Joey Torrez and defensive end Evan Curry each recorded power cleans of 295 pounds to lead Mission Viejo.
In the bench press, offensive tackle Brady Norton, Torrez and Mendez each broke the 20-rep barrier for 205 pounds.
But for all the competition Saturday, it still wasn’t “real football.” The Diablos understand that much more work remains.
“(We) definitely can’t get caught up (on today),” Holman said. “Seven-on-seven and pads are two completely different things. A lot changes with the box being involved, running the ball, linemen. But I definitely think we’re ready for season to start and to be one of the best teams in the country, really.”
TOUTED QB TRANSFERS TO SANTA MARGARITA
Quarterback Bekkem Kritza, a 6-foot-6, 190-pound sophomore from Colorado, has enrolled at Santa Margarita. He confirmed the transfer while at the tournament, where he received a few reps.
Considered a national recruit, Kritza passed for more than 3,000 yards as a freshman at Fairview High and holds offers from Colorado, Colorado State, Texas A & M and Kansas. He plays point guard in basketball.
So what does Kritza’s arrival mean for Potter?
“(It’s) Jaxon’s job to lose,” Santa Margarita coach Anthony Rouzier said of Potter, who tossed three TDs in the semifinals against Mission Viejo, including one to Emmett Mosley. “Jaxon is the guy but it is what it is. Best players play.”
FRESHMEN SHOW POTENTIAL
Los Alamitos freshman quarterback Jaden O’Neal and Orange freshman quarterback Oscar Rios each had their moments.
O’Neal helped the Griffins reach the quarterfinals before they fell to Centennial Corona while Rios capped a loss to Centennial in pool play with a long TD to wide receiver Jonathan Smith.
“I like that he’s a tough competitor, works hard,” Orange coach Robert Pedroza said of Rios. “He’s going to become a leader and throws the ball really well. Obviously, we’ll take some lumps with him being a freshman but he’ll grow from it.”
Servite rallied from a 1-3 record in Pool 4 to claim the silver bracket. Wide receiver Quinn Rosenkranz was among the Friars’ standouts.
Coach Troy Thomas said the Sam Gooding is no longer the team’s offensive coordinator and a replacement is likely to come from the current coaching staff. …
La Habra quarterback Justin Gil continues to show improvement entering his third season as a starter. “He’s made huge strides,” Highlanders coach Frank Mazzotta said. “His timing is better. … We’ll throw it around (this season).”
Please send football news to Dan Albano at [email protected] or @ocvarsityguy on Twitter