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Northwood football striving for improvement after winning first CIF-SS title

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Northwood football coach J.C. Clarke believes there is one sure way to gauge his team’s progress following its first CIF-SS title last season:

Examine how the Timberwolves fare against the opponents they lost to during the 2021 regular season.

“We’re playing all five of them,” Clarke said.

Northwood’s first chance for redemption arrives Friday with a trip to Laguna Beach, which beat the Timberwolves 34-21 last fall.

The Timberwolves, the reigning CIF-SS Division 11 champion, are 2-0 so far with victories against Woodbridge (21-7) and Kennedy (37-6). Laguna Beach is 0-2 with a losses against one of the best teams in Idaho and Dana Hills.

“It’s our toughest game so far,” Clarke said of Laguna Beach, which lost to Dana Hills 28-24 last week. “They’re well-coached (by John Shanahan).”

Northwood believes it knows about good coaching.

The Timberwolves return many of their top skill players from 2021, including standout Adam Harper and his emerging sophomore brother Joseph. Both have played well, but the surprise has been the play of Northwood’s revamped offensive line under its new position coach Zaverio Brenner.

The team returned only one starter in Jan Abuelsad and lost him for the season with a finger injury, Clarke said. Northwood also lost its second-best lineman — Shane Stradling — to a knee injury but has retooled under Brenner.

The offensive line now features senior Michael Lopez (6-3, 235), juniors Muhammad Wahby (5-9, 210) and Will Trinh (6-0, 210) and sophomores Tao Sun (6-2, 215) and Quintin Lynch (5-9, 170).

“He really cares about the kids,” Clarke, 66, said of Brenner, 80, a former assistant to retired Irvine coach Terry Henigan. “They love him.”

Northwood’s early-season success also has featured two touchdown passes from Adam Harper to Joseph Harper. Adam, a senior running back/safety, has connected with his brother off a double-pass and a short “jump pass” near the goal line.

The Timberwolves also are receiving key contributions from returning quarterback Eugene Miyata and middle linebacker Danial Kamel.

Northwood’s redemption tour continues later this season with games against Portola, Laguna Hills, Irvine and Dana Hills.

“We’re all about the team,” Clarke said.

SANTA MARGARITA GAME CANCELED

St. Augustine of San Diego canceled games at all levels this week against Santa Margarita because of injuries at the varsity and junior varsity levels, St. Augustine athletic director Matt Linville confirmed Tuesday.

“We have no available subs at a couple of positions and therefore do not feel like we have the adequate personnel to safely start and finish the game,” Linville stated in an email. “This is a sad and frustrating decision for us, as we have a proud history of athletic success for 100 years.”

NOTES

Magnolia (0-2) forfeited its season-opening 16-15 victory against Godinez (1-1) on Aug, 19 due to an ineligible player,  Anaheim Union district athletic director Mitch Olson confirmed. …

El Dorado running back Isaiah Quintero, the reigning CIF State wrestling champion in the 106-pound division, said after the Golden Hawks’ 50-7 victory against Fountain Valley last week that he weighs about 135 pounds. “I’m getting bigger for football,” the junior said. “I don’t want to get hurt, but I’m definitely going to make my way down (in weight) for wrestling. I’ll think I’ll wrestle at 120s, maybe 126.” …

The late Marijon Ancich would have commemorated his selection into the inaugural class of the California High School Football Hall of Fame with a bean and cheese burrito and not much outward reaction, said his son, Villa Park coach Dusan Ancich. “For our family, it’s really special for him to continue to get recognized at this stage in our life and him passing away,” Dusan said of his father, who coached at St. Paul and Tustin. “We’re thankful.” …

Canyon’s duo of quarterback Christian Lundsberg (626 yards passing) and linebacker Troy Mills (34 total tackles) are the county leaders in those categories entering Week 2. Mills shares the county lead with Foothill linebacker Ethan Charpentier.

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