Covering High School Sports in America
Photo by Louis Lopez

Johnny Stanton passing Friday night in a win over St. Bonaventure. Stanton favored his left leg throughout the game and tests this morning revealed an ACL injury to his left knee. Surgery is pending.

The season of one of the nation's top dual threat quarterbacks is over and very likely is the chance of a possible mythical national championship - and state crown - for his team. 

University of Nebraska-bound Johnny Stanton sustained a torn ACL injury to his left knee during his team's 35-27 win over St. Bonaventure on Friday and, according to his coach will be out six to ninth months. 

The strapping 6-foot-3, 220-pound senior led Santa Margarita (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.) to a California Division I State Bowl championship last season while rushing for 1,528 yards and 25 touchdowns and passing for more than 2,000.

Thus far he's led the nation's No. 3 team to a 5-0 start while completing 59 of 88 passes for 949 yards and 11 touchdowns. He's rushed for 386 more yards and eight scores. Stanton is already the school's career total offense leader with 5,558.

Beyond that, he is the heart and soul of the squad, keeping his teammates calm in the most stressful spots. He did that time after time last season and also in 2012.

The school sent out a press release Saturday night revealing the injury and pending surgery, and in a phone conversation with head coach Harry Welch later, he confirmed that Stanton will be out for the season but said that he would be 100 percent by the time he enrolls at Nebraska next summer.

"I've had better Saturday nights," Welch said. "In 40 years of coaching, this is one of the toughest injuries one of my teams have had to deal with because Johnny is one of the greatest kids I've coached."

Welch isn't sure when Stanton sustained the injury. The athletic quarterback favored the leg from the first quarter on. Welch said an orthopedic surgeon and three trainers were on the Santa Margarita sideline Friday and checked him out several times during the game.

"He kept saying it was a cramp, that he was OK," Welch said. "We thought maybe it was just a bruise. We really didn't know it was serious until after the game on the table. We knew then he'd need an MRI. ... He played courageously. He's a tough young man. A lesser person couldn't have possibly finished that game." 

In the state-bowl title game last season – a 42-37 win over Bellarmine – Stanton accounted for 375 of his team's 407 yards and all six touchdowns, including the game-winning 1-yard sneak with 16 seconds left.

"I'd take my guy (Stanton) over any player in the country," Welch said after the game.

The road through the Southern Section and Southern California playoffs would appear too stiff for Santa Margarita to make it through without Stanton. Junior Josh Canty (5-11, 178) will be the new starter.

"Josh Canty is a fine young man and will give his very best," Welch said. "But you don't replace a Johnny Stanton. ... We'll find out what we're made of."

Santa Margarita has a bye this week and opens rugged Trinity League play Oct. 5 against Servite.