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Servite, Cypress surprise by reaching the semifinals of South County passing tournament

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MISSION VIEJO — One of the biggest revelations at the South County passing tournament sprung from a team that graduated its two best wide receivers in May, and lost arguably its best returning option to an injury in the first game on Saturday.

The other stunner came from a school coming off its worst finish in school history, and some wild shuffling of quarterbacks last fall.

Cypress and Servite weren’t the obvious picks to reach the semifinals at the high-octane, summer event but both showed progress in earning their shots against two 7-on-7 titans for a chance to reach the championship.

The Centurions met Mater Dei, which won the Battle at the Beach at Edison last weekend. The Friars faced defending South County champion and tournament host Mission Viejo.

A joke on the Cypress sideline before the semifinals was essentially which one of the four teams seemed a bit out of place.

“Who expects Cypress to be in the final four of this tournament?” asked Centurions coach Rick Feldman, who brought his team to the event for the first time.

Mater Dei and Mission Viejo restored order with lopsided victories in the semifinals, and the Monarchs won the tournament, but Cypress and Servite certainly left their mark as improved teams.

Mission Viejo defended its title in the linemen competition at...

Mission Viejo defended its title in the linemen competition at the South County tournament Saturday. (Photo by Dan Albano, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Cypress quarterback Aidan Houston throws a pass at the South...

Cypress quarterback Aidan Houston throws a pass at the South County tournament Saturday at Mission Viejo. (Photo by Dan Albano, Orange County Register/SCNG)

The Monarchs defeated Mission Viejo 28-14 in the final behind four touchdown passes by Stanford commit Elijah Brown, including three to senior wide receiver Marcus Brown.

Mater Dei finished 7-0 for the second consecutive weekend to polish its resume as the No. 1-ranked team in the nation in multiple preseason polls.

Servite gave the rival Monarchs arguably their toughest game, falling 29-21 in the teams’ tournament opener.

The Friars bounced back to win four consecutive games before falling to Mission Viejo 35-14 in the semifinals.

Servite was led by Leo Hannan, a 6-foot-4, 207-pound junior who was part of a crowded quarterback group last season as the Friars went 1-9.

Under the direction of first-year coach Chris Reinert and new offense coordinator Cheyne Lacanaria, Hannan kept the Friars on the move by connecting with a compelling cast of receivers.

The group included emerging senior tight end Aidan O’Callaghan, senior wide receiver Quinn Rosenkranz, junior wide outs Jacob Martin and Ethan Naudin and junior running back Quaid Carr.

“We hung in there,” Hannan said of the Mater Dei game. “We competed just fine. I thought we looked the part, played the part.”

In the quarterfinals, Hannan threw three TDs to O’Callaghan en route to a 35-28 triumph against Centennial Corona. He also tossed TDs to Martin and Carr as the Friars beat the Huskies, who were undefeated but played without QB Husan Longstreet.

O’Callaghan also impressed with a leaping TD catch in a 21-15 victory against Tustin.

“He’s the dude who looks like Hercules,” Hannan said of O’Callaghan (6-3, 220).

In a testament to the offense’s improvement, Carr was the only contributor Saturday who earned all-league honors last season.

“It’s going great,” Hannan said of the Friars’ summer. “We got these new coaches. I love these guys. New, good energy, turn stuff around. If we can just (now) have a good year, and build.”

Hannan landed several offers in the spring, including Washington, Arizona and Illinois, but his focus is now solely on the Friars.

“I want to win games. That’s No. 1,” he said. “Comeback season. That’s really everyone’s focus around here. This a big tournament for us.”

Cypress waged its own comeback while providing a peek into what its offense will look like without wide receivers Matt Morrell and Trevor Monteleone.

Senior quarterback Aidan Houston rallied the Centurions past La Habra in the teams’ opener for a 23-21 victory.

The victory set the tone for Houston working well with senior wide receivers Michael Hubbard and Jake Porteneuve, senior tight end Bruno Caldarella and senior running back Destin Sanchez.

The connections came after Cypress lost senior athlete Jesse Mauldin to a collarbone injury against La Habra.

“(Aidan) is having a great day,” Feldman said of the 5-foot-11, 165-pound dual threat. “His decision making. He’s making quick reads, and his accuracy has been spot on, and we’ve had receivers making huge plays.”

In one of the most exciting games of the tournament, Cypress fell in pool play to Centennial Corona 36-35. The Centurions, according to the tournament rules, could have settled for a 36-36 tie because of the automatically awarded extra-point following its late score. But the Empire League powerhouse opted for the 2-point conversion and lost one point when its attempt failed.

In the quarterfinals, Cypress defeated Bishop Amat 42-35.

That’s a lot of points for a team that graduated a duo in Matt Morrell and Trevor Monteleone who combined last season for 122 receptions for 2,225 yards and 19 TDs.

Hubbard, Porteneuve and Caldarella each finished last fall with one reception apiece.

“For us to come in (here) and perform like we have today,” Feldman said, “I’m happy.”

MISSION VIEJO DEFENDS LINEMEN TITLE

Mission Viejo defended its title in the linemen competition.

The Diablos capped the event by defeating Chaparral in the finals of the tug-of-war, which ignited a wild celebration.

“That’s just the Mission culture,” senior defensive lineman Titus Miller said. “We celebrate each other because a win up front is a win for everybody. We all come together as a unit at the end of the day. We win, lose together.”

In the semifinals of the tug-of-war, the Diablos overcame an early surge by Millikan to rally for the victory.

#AndStill @missionfootball defeats Chaparral en route to linemen title, Mater Dei and Servite didn’t participate but Diablos were dominant @ocvarsity pic.twitter.com/Mrz0aYLCBt

— Dan Albano (@ocvarsityguy) July 8, 2023

DIABLOS’ QB COMPETITION TO CONTINUE

Mission Viejo’s quarterback competition between sophomore Luke Fahey and junior Draiden Trudeau-Cicero is headed to fall camp, Diablos coach Chad Johnson said.

“Luke and Dra had a good day,” Johnson said, “but real football is going to determine the guy who is going to win the job.”

Johnson said the competition will extend to the Diablos’ scrimmage against Santa Margarita on Aug. 11, and perhaps the first few games of the season.

Both QBs tossed a touchdown in the final against Mater Dei. Fahey connected with running back Hinesward Lilomaiav while Trudeau-Cicero threw one to Winslow Garnier.

MISSION VIEJO FRESHMEN SHINE

An opening in the bracket led Mission Viejo to enter a “B” team comprised of all freshmen and coached by Johnson, former Diablos quarterback Kadin Semonza (Ball State) and Reynaldo “Skeats” Spalding.

The B team, led by QB Kale Murphy, reached the silver final, falling to La Habra 22-21.



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