Orange Lutheran returned to action after a three-week layoff and didn’t look anything like the team that was beaten by Pickerington (Ohio) Central 28-14 on Aug. 30 at Ohio State University. The Lancers scored on their first seven possessions and beat a very physical Tustin team 46-20.
"It was a long downtime," coach Jim Kunau said. "We were really outplayed in Ohio after the first quarter. It pointed out a lot of areas we needed to improve, and our players and coaches did a good job of shoring up those areas. We made a pretty big leap of improvement.
"We played about as well as we could play offensively."
Those areas of improvement included pass protection for Bobby Wheatley, who completed his first 14 passes, and the elimination of turnovers. Kunau called the wait the longest three weeks in the program’s history, and given that it faces a Trinity League schedule and the Pac-5 playoffs, that’s saying something. The game was originally supposed to be played over Labor Day weekend, but was moved up a week to accommodate stadium issues.
"We just tried to make the best of it, and in the end, our guys did a good job of trying to improve and not get too rusty with that long layoff," Kunau said. "It’s nice to be in a routine now so that we don’t have a bye the rest of the season."
This week, Lutheran plays Redlands East Valley (2-0) in an Orange County-Inland Empire matchup at Orange Coast College. REV is No. 15 in the MaxPreps state rankings.
Taft’s getting Lucky on Oct. 9
RB/DB Lucky Radley of Woodland Hills Taft, who has transferred schools three times in the last two years, has been cleared to play by the Los Angeles City Section. Radley will be eligible for an Oct. 9 game against Gardena Serra.
Radley’s arrival may provide an embarrassment of riches for the Toreadors. Even through Taft was beaten by Sherman Oaks Notre Dame 45-27 in an intersectional game against a Southern Section power, Taft running back D.J. Morgan stole the show with 19 carries for 235 yards and touchdown runs of 69, 44 and 60 yards.
Notre Dame coach Kevin Rooney told the Los Angeles Times, "He’s exceptionally quick and elusive. We had a hard time tackling him."
Morgan, headed for USC, is the state champion in the 110-meter high hurdles. Over the summer, he won the World Youth Track and Field Championships title to lay claim to being the fastest 17-under short hurdler in the world.
Tustin (2-1) played without Anthony Wilkerson, who had a strained hamstring. Despite missing the game against Orange Lutheran, Wilkerson still has rushed for 671 yards, the state’s fourth-best total; he is tied with Perris Citrus Hill’s Deontae Cooper, who has also played only two games. Jesse Callier of Downey Warren has 837 yards in three games to lead the state.
Wilkerson figures to challenge the 300-yard barrier against Capistrano Valley on Friday.
Cooper set a Southern Section record in his team’s 30-20 victory over Temecula Great Oak. He carried the ball 59 times, breaking the 57 attempts by Chris Huerta of Riverside Notre Dame in a 2005 contest against Yucca Valley. Cooper gained 412 yards. It was Citrus Hills’ 30th consecutive victory.
Wheatley, a left-hander, will attend USC as a baseball pitcher, but his 14 consecutive pass completions wasn’t even the best of the weekend.
San Clemente’s Chase Rettig, a transfer from Pasadena La Salle, made his debut for the Tritons (2-0) and completed 17 passes in a row at one point. He finished 21-of-25 for 199 yards and two touchdowns in a 21-3 victory over Mission Viejo Trabuco Hills. Rettig has committed to Boston College.
Through two games, Westlake Village Westlake’s Nick Isham has completed 21-of-25 passes (84 percent) for 288 yards and seven touchdowns. Impressive in his 16-of-18 performance for four touchdowns in a 42-20 victory against Saugus was that Isham also caught a couple of passes and had a 75-yard interception return for a touchdown.
Huntington Beach Edison’s Matt Viles set a school record by passing for 457 yards, including three touchdowns, in the Chargers’ 34-17 victory over Dana Hills.
A real eye-opener
The most interesting result of Week 2 came from a struggling team trying to find an offense and stay above .500.
Mater Dei and its thoroughly dominant second-half performance against Corona Centennial was stunning. Reports of the Monarchs’ demise in the post-Matt Barkley era may have been premature. With receiver Victor Blackwell on the field for the first time this season, Mater Dei (2-1) outscored Centennial 21-0 in the second half to post a 31-13 victory.
The performance was about a million miles from the last-minute touchdown needed to beat Cypress a week earlier, 21-16, or the season-opening 14-2 loss to Carson. Centennial, last year’s Open Division Bowl champion, was ranked No. 6 in the state, and No. 1 in the Inland Division. Mater Dei was an afterthought. No more.
The Crespi acid test
There are a number of different things that determine California Bowl Championship game participants, and No. 1 is to win a section championship.
Anaheim Servite is the current favorite to represent the South in Division II, St. Bonaventure in Division III and Oaks Christian in the Open Division. Servite beat Crespi last week, 38-28, after bolting to a 38-7 lead through three quarters. St. Bonaventure plays Crespi this week.
Mission Hills Alemany plays Crespi on Oct. 16, which is significant because Alemany – currently ranked No. 1 in the Southern Section’s Western Division – was beaten by Oaks Christian 28-17 on Sept. 4.
Mission Viejo is the current favorite to be the Division I representative, but it doesn’t play Crespi, although that could change in the Pac-5 playoffs.
Rebuilding Long Beach Poly, ranked No. 17 in the state by MaxPreps, broke into the win column with a 28-14 victory over Harbor City Narbonne, but it doesn’t figure to get any easier this week when the Jackrabbits (1-2) play at No. 20 Oceanside (3-0). It’s a big intersectional game because Oceanside can compare itself directly to other Poly opponents who figure to challenge for respective section titles: No. 2 Servite, No. 3 St. Bonaventure and Narbonne. Both Oceanside and Servite have high hopes of reaching the State Division II Bowl game.
Another intersectional matchup between the Southern and San Diego sections pits No. 6 Mission Viejo (3-0) at Vista (3-0), which is ranked No. 4 in San Diego. Servite (3-0), which has already played an impressive schedule, adds No. 10 Huntington Beach Edison (3-0) this week. That will match two of Orange County’s outstanding quarterbacks, Cody Fajardo against Edison’s Matt Viles.
St. Bonaventure (3-0) plays at No. 14 Crespi (2-1); No. 15 Redlands East Valley (2-0) plays Orange Lutheran (1-1) at Orange Coast College; and in a game pitting the top-ranked teams in the Southern Section’s Central and Southeast Divisions, Rancho Cucamonga (3-0) plays at Charter Oak (3-0).
Three dots and a cloud of dust
In its first game since RB/LB Kevin Telles collapsed on the field and later died, Garden Grove scored 21 consecutive points in the second half to come from behind to beat Irvine Woodbridge 35-24. Coincidentally, Telles’ wake was being held at the same time as the game. He was buried the next day. . . . Compton Dominguez boys basketball coach Russell Otis, the subject of a Los Angeles Times story about his impending trial on charges that he tried to pay one of his players for sex and stole $15,0000 in money intended for the team from Nike, will also be investigated by the school district’s police department for submitting fraudulent receipts to obtain $5,100 in travel reimbursement. Otis, 47, coached Dominguez to five state titles. . . . El Toro water polo coach Don Stoll recorded his 600th victory with a 15-6 decision over Riverside Poly in the Chargers’ season opener last week. It’s Stoll’s 29th season; his program has won six Southern Section titles and one Masters championship. Among those who helped him win his historic victory was U.S. junior team member Nick Rascon, who scored three of his four goals in the first quarter to take a 6-0 lead.
Childera Uzo-Diribe, a defensive end at Corona, has reportedly agreed to attend Colorado.
Martin Henderson began covering Southland preps in 1993 for the Los Angeles Times. He contributes to the Orange County Register, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin and San Bernardino Sun, and offers up motorsports opinions at Racescribe.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.