Week 4 Prep Zone Roundup
Prep Zone featured one of the top games in the country this week in the contest between Santa Margarita and St. Bonaventure. The game lived up to its billing as it came down to the final two minutes of play. Ultimately, Santa Margarita, ranked No. 2 in the country, handed the Seraphs a heartbreaking loss. Elsewhere in the CIF Southern Section, another power was also toppled by a City Section school that is looking more and more like a major player and the Orange County teams continued to play expert defense.
The Main Act
Santa Margarita, ranked No. 2 in the country and No. 1 in the Southern Section, faced a St. Bonaventure team that has been on the rise lately. The Seraphs gave the Eagles absolutely everything they had in a nationally-televised thriller, but fell 35-27.
The Seraphs (4-1) came out firing, going up 14-7 early, and leading 21-7 at the half. But Santa Margarita (5-0) responded nearly every time, and St. Bonaventure was bothered by running back Ryan Wolpin all night.
Early in the third quarter, quarterback Johnny Stanton faked the handoff and went up top to Kyle Sweet who cruised into the end zone on the 44-yard touchdown, tying the game at 21. The Eagles’ defense held their opponents scoreless in the third.
But St. Bonaventure wasn’t done. Trailing 28-21 with just 3:50 left in the game, Zachary Green, the Seraphs leading rusher, finally found the end zone after a long drive to give his team the first points since back in the second quarter. A two-point conversion was needed to tie the game up and Green was once again handed the ball. He plowed through the pile but was stuffed at the goal line, just inches from the end zone, keeping St. Bonaventure back by just a point.
The defensive stop that the Seraphs needed never happened. With 2:05 left, Stanton hit River Cracaft with a swing pass for a first down. On the next play, Wolpin found a hole and ran right through, going 50 yards through the middle for a touchdown. While Wolpin, who finished with 162 yards and two touchdowns, and his teammates erupted in celebration, the Seraphs hung their heads in what could potentially be the toughest defeat they will face all season.
City Section Wins
Two weeks ago, Harbor City Narbonne shutout Long Beach Poly 56-0. A week later, they allowed six points in a 61-6 win over Lakewood. This week, the Narbonne defense finally allowed a touchdown, the first one all season, to No. 8 Serra (4-1), a team that was looking as though it might be untouchable. But Narbonne continued to roll this week, traveling to Gardena to roll right over Serra, 22-7.
“That was a great hard-fought battle between two solid teams that I think are going to go very far throughout the season,” said Narbonne head coach Manuel Douglas. “It was execution, really.”
The defense executed almost perfectly according to plan. The one touchdown was thrown deep on second-and-20 to Darrell Furey who was double-teamed but beat both defenders in a foot race to the end zone.
Narbonne (4-0) soon responded on both offense and defense. Down one with just over three minutes in the first half, Tony Gates score on a rush up the middle to put the Gauchos back up. Later, Malik Roberson went up the middle for a big gain in the fourth quarter. With Cavaliers quickly entered Narbonne territory and had plenty of time left to make big plays. But a drive that had so much promise ended with the Gauchos’ linebacking corps stopping it short. On second-and-goal at the four yardline, Roberson fumbled near the goal line, turning the ball over for the fourth time.
“Those linebackers are three seniors that started from the 10th grade on,” Douglas said. “At this point, it’s their final round, they’re getting after it.”
Another top-ranked Southern Section team also went down to a City Section team Friday night when Crenshaw downed No. 3 Oaks Christian 13-2. The Crenshaw offense absolutely stifled the Lions, who had been averaging more than 41 points per game coming into Friday night’s contest.
It was the first time in school history that the Lions (4-1) failed to score a touchdown in a game. The Oaks offense was a mess —the Lions managed just 81 yards on 17 carries and quarterback Brandon Dawkins was picked off five times.
Crenshaw (4-1) rushed for 232 yards on 50 carries.
Canyon Country Dominance
Prep Zone featured both Valencia and Newhall Hart this week, and both showcased their winning ways and offensive prowess.
The Indians jumped out to a quick start against Lake Balboa Birmingham, going up 14-0 in the first quarter after Brady White scored in the air and on the ground. Birmingham got on the board in the second quarter when Isaiah Hastings cut the lead to 21-7 with a four-yard rush into the end zone. The Patriots (3-2) would score once more off of a touchdown pass to London Bell and a successful conversion to Hastings. But the Indians (3-1) continued to push the ball down the field for the 55-14 win.
In Valencia’s 41-13 win over Santa Monica (2-2), a big play in the first quarter set the tone. Already up 7-0, Sean Murphy pump-faked and threw a long screen to Nick Jones who made a beautiful catch over his back shoulder and beat his defender into the end zone for a 62-yard touchdown. Santa Monica would not score until late in the third quarter. Sebastian LaRue scored both of Santa Monica’s touchdowns but neither were enough and both came too late.
Defenders of Troy
Fullerton Troy (3-1) absolutely torched Anaheim Savanna 48-0. It was the Warriors’ second shutout of the year as they moved to 4-1 on the season and they allowed for some miniscule offensive numbers. While Savanna isn’t exactly an area power, anytime a team is held to 34 yards on 21 carries you can say the defense did its job. The Rebels (0-4) attempted just two passes, one of which was picked off and resulted in a touchdown a few plays later. Troy has now allowed just 16 points this season and should these defensive numbers keep going the way they are, the Warriors will be a favorite in the Freeway League.
Elsewhere in Orange County, Huntington Beach Edison, in the rankings for the first time this week at No. 19, lost its bid to win three straight over former Pac-5 foes, falling to No. 5 Mater Dei (4-0) 20-14. The Edison (3-1) defense had shut down every opponent it had faced coming into the game, recording two shutouts on the season including last week’s 6-0 win over Servite.
No. 11 Tesoro edged out Temecula Chaparral (3-1) 35-30.
Servite continued to flounder this week, being routed 42-0 by Bishop Gorman (Nev.), the No. 13 team in the country. Servite’s last win was a big one over No. 14 Rancho Cucamonga, but following that victory fourth-year offensive coordinator Matthew Mitchell was fired, with head coach Troy Thomas citing “philosophical differences”. Since then, the offense has scored exactly zero points in two games and the Friars have fallen to 1-3.
More Southern Section Scores
No. 18 Bishop Amat 35, Santa Fe Springs St. Paul 24
No. 12 Alemany 45, Dorsey 0
No. 10 Lompoc 49, Morro Bay 14
No. 13 Upland 45, Santiago 41
Norco 39, No. 20 Whittier La Serna 16