MISSION VIEJO, Calif. —
always makes headlines for Mission Viejo
, and this season is no
different. The Diablos went into their South Coast League finale on
Friday sporting an average of 49.5 points.
They also went into
that game facing unbeaten El Toro (Lake Forest)
quarterback Conner Manning
. When it
was over, it was Mission Viejo’s defense that was on everyone’s lips.
defense intercepted Manning six times, and returned one for a
touchdown, and led the way in a 49-7 victory over the Chargers.
were touting this as the game of the year in Orange County, where the
teams were ranked 1-2, but Mission Viejo’s preparation and execution
turned it into no contest.
Mission Viejo (10-0 overall, 4-0 in
league) won its fourth straight South Coast League title, and in doing
so reignited a rivalry that used to be one of the best around in the
1980s. But El Toro went into a different league and then fell on hard
times. Essentially, the programs went their separate ways.
the success of El Toro under coach Robert Frith meant a move from the
Sea View League to the South Coast League this season, bringing the
rivals together once more. In front of a standing room only crowd of
about 8,500, fans of both schools took a trip back to the good old days.
a great night, a great atmosphere for both of us, and it’s great high
school football at its best,” said Bob Johnson, Mission Viejo’s coach
who was the coach of El Toro in its heyday.
“That was just a
fantastic defensive effort, by our defensive staff, it really was. But
it’s a team effort, we played kicking game, we played offense, but
defensively, I’m so proud of the way we played.”
averaged 391.7 yards passing, but he was 21 of 44 for 193 yards against
the Diablos. His previous low was 279 yards in a four-touchdown
performance against Tesoro.
Mission Viejo will go into the
Southern Section Pac-5 playoffs as the league’s first-place team, and El
Toro (9-1, 3-1), under third-year coach Frith, will be the second-place
entry. El Toro competed in the Southwest Division last season and,
after finishing runner-up to Tustin in the championship game in what was
essentially known as the old Division VI, moved into a new league and
the section’s marquee division.
Pairings for the Pac-5 Division –
which includes two of the top five leagues in the nation according to
MaxPreps – will be released Sunday.
The Trinity League was ranked the No. 2 toughest league in America, and the South Coast was ranked No. 5.
The night seemed to start great for El Toro but it quickly turned. The Chargers recovered Alex Suchesk
’s fumble at the Mission Viejo 27, but Manning’s pass was picked off by Sean Modster
on the Chargers first play. Mission Viejo then drove 85 yards in 14
plays with Ian Fieber
tossing the first of three touchdowns, this one 19
yards to Modster.
Fieber completed 20 of 30 for 273 yards and two interceptions, but he got the better of Manning.
just wanted to give my team the league championship,” Fieber said. “And
I did that and I’m proud of that. We played a heck of a game, offense,
defense, special teams, everything. I’m just really proud right now.”
the ensuing kickoff, El Toro running back Jacob Furnari suffered an arm
injury and missed the rest of the game. Furnari had averaged 104.2
yards per game and had scored 11 touchdowns.
Manning came into
the game having thrown 36 touchdowns with only three interceptions, but
his third interception of the night came 10 seconds into the second
quarter, courtesy of Zack Holland; the Mission Viejo offense needed four
plays to cover 65 yards as Fieber connected on a pair of passes,
including a 28-yarder to Modster that preceded Marcus Collins
’ 28-yard scoring run.
After El Toro drove and scored on Manning’s three-yard pass to
, Fieber countered with a 48-yard deep ball to Max Redfield
for a 21-7 lead with 3:23 left in the half.
Toro managed only one first down in its first three third-quarter
possessions and Suchesk scored from five yards to make it 28-7 with 2:09
The Diablos scored 21 points in the fourth quarter, on
’s 22-yard run – not bad for a defensive end making a guest appearance on offense – Fieber passed 16 yards to Braxton Shirley
and junior safety Hunter Remington
returned the last interception of the night 31 yards for the final margin.
Marino had two of the three sacks against Manning.
6-foot-2, 195-pound senior, came into the game with 3,525
passing yards, 38 touchdowns and only three interceptions. Not to be
outdone, Mission Viejo had scored nearly 50 points per game and
had an average margin of victory of nearly 34 points.
This was the first meeting between these teams since 2005 — when El Toro was
last a South Coast League member. Mission Viejo won that game, 48-7.
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