Fryer on football: Servite standouts are sophomores now, just wait until they’re seniors

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One word stands out when reviewing Servite’s near-upset of St. John Bosco on Friday night.

The word: sophomores.

Servite sophomore quarterback Noah Fifita threw three touchdown passes, two of them to sophomore Tetaroia McMillan. Sophomore Jacob Manu blocked a punt that sophomore Houston Thomas returned 29 yards for a touchdown.

St. John Bosco, No. 2 in all sorts of national rankings that have Mater Dei at No. 1, prevailed 27-26 in the Trinity League game at Orange Coast College. Servite missed two extra-point kicks in its attempt at an upset that would have had a national impact.

Servite coach Troy Thomas, in his second season of his second tenure as the school’s coach, has a knack for getting players to believe they can beat teams that nobody else thinks they can beat. That happened in 2005, the first season of his first tenure when Servite upset Long Beach Poly in the second round of the playoffs.

After Friday’s game Thomas said, “(we) have to win games like this to be relevant in the Trinity League … ”

It looks like Servite is relevant now in the Trinity League, and should be even more so in two years when those sophomores are seniors.

Extra points

• If St. John Bosco was looking ahead to its Oct. 25 home game against Mater Dei, Mater Dei certainly was in one-game-at-a-time mode Friday. The Monarchs took care of their business with a 51-14 win over Orange Lutheran in their Trinity League opener.  The same could be said for JSerra with its 35-3 win over Santa Margarita in its league opener.

• The most perplexing teams this season are Los Alamitos and Villa Park. Our Orange County preseason top 10 had Villa Park at No. 6 and Los Alamitos at No. 7. Villa Park is 2-4 after its 21-7 nonleague loss to Foothill on Thursday and Los Alamitos is 1-5 after its Sunset League-opening 42-21 loss to Edison on Friday.

• Los Alamitos and Villa Park have outstanding athletes but neither team has that cohesiveness you see in the better teams. It’s a telling sign when players celebrate their touchdowns like their team is ahead by a bunch of  points when the scoreboard shows their team is trailing by a bunch of points. Los Alamitos and Villa Park each have four games left, plenty of time to construct a solid team framework and turn their seasons around.

• The most improved team in Orange County might be Esperanza. After three straight 1-9 seasons, the Aztecs are 5-1 after beating El Modena 31-28. The Aztecs likely will get some votes Monday in the O.C. top 25 media poll after the win over No. 25 El Modena.

• Going back to our O.C. preseason top 10 … here is what it was: 1. Mater Dei; 2. JSerra; 3. Mission Viejo; 4. Corona del Mar; 5. Servite; 6. Villa Park; 7. Los Alamitos; 8. La Habra; 9. Orange Lutheran; 10. Tesoro. Our synopsis of Tesoro started with: “Edison, San Clemente and Santa Margarita were among candidates considered for the No. 10 position.”

• Western (5-1) shut out Garden Grove 35-0 on Thursday for its fifth straight shutout. Orange County football records do not exist for consecutive shutouts. The O.C. single-season record for shutouts is nine established by Villa Park in 1981.

• Of the Western twin brothers, Caine and Cassius Savage, Caine is the better high school football player and Cassius looks like the brother who could be the superior college football player. Cassius is, at 6-2, two inches taller than Caine and that might make him better suited for the matchups they will encounter in college, whether they are playing receiver or cornerback at the next level.

• This was the first week of eligibility for transfers who had to sit out the first half of the football season. Among the transfers who got their first game experience of 2019 was Western senior running back/linebacker Robbie Sauvao who is from Hawaii where he played some quarterback. At 6-3 and 225, Sauvao gives Western the interior running weapon they had lacked.

• Edison senior receiver Cole Koffler had a nice Friday evening. He caught a touchdown pass, his team-leading sixth of the season, and at halftime, in his football uniform, he was named homecoming king.

• Rancho Alamitos looks set to go undefeated in the Garden Grove League after its 21-10 win over the league’s other top contender, Loara, in a league opener Friday.

• Portola has its first class of seniors, and it looks like they are going to establish a high standard for the ensuing senior classes to follow. The Bulldogs beat Beckman 27-10 on Friday in their Pacific Coast League opener, making Portola the favorite to win the league championship.

• Dana Hills’ 28-27 overtime loss to Laguna Hills and Tesoro’s 44-28 loss to San Clemente reduces the number of undefeated football teams in Orange County to nine. They are Calvary Chapel, Corona del Mar, Cypress, Foothill, Mater Dei, Mission Viejo, Newport Harbor, Segerstrom and St. Margaret’s.