Starting Week 1 of the high school football season with notes, comments and observations …
1. Practice makes perfect: But you have to be able to practice. The Anaheim Union High School District shut down athletic activities Monday, one day after tropical storm conditions smacked Orange County. Two football teams in the district, Anaheim and Western, have games Thursday night. Playing a game on a Thursday with only two practices that week is not ideal.
It’s also not an ideal situation for a third team in the district, Cypress. The Centurions, ranked No. 9 in the county, are trying to get ready to play No. 10 Corona del Mar on Friday.
2. So far, so very good: Mater Dei beat Centennial 28-24 on Friday at Centennial High. That score might not seem that impressive, given that Mater Dei is No. 1 the county, state and national rankings. But Centennial was the No. 3 team in California last week, so any road win over a team like that, and in the first week of the season, is a fine achievement.
Mater Dei this week travels to Utah to play Bingham of South Jordan on Saturday. The Monarchs were unable to practice Monday because the school and all related activities were canceled because of uncertainty after the tropical storm. Mater Dei is so talented this season that missing a practice will not matter.
3. Lagging: Artificial turf fields are in place at high school football stadiums all over Orange County except for the home stadiums used by the Anaheim high schools. Glover Stadium at La Palma Park and the stadium at Western High have grass fields.
4. Thumping Thursday: Thursday’s schedule includes a matchup of Orange County Top 25 teams, El Dorado at La Habra. Also on the schedule that night is Orange-Villa Park at El Modena, which is a matchup with two outstanding running backs, Orange’s Ardwon Morris and Villa Park’s Carter Christie. Huntington Beach is at Trabuco Hills Thursday.
5. A loss, but it could have been worse: Edison traveled to San Diego County last week and lost to Helix 38-34. That wasn’t a bad outcome given that Edison had to scramble to find an opponent to play last week. The Chargers were supposed to play their first two games of the season in Maui, but the games were canceled because of the wildfires on the island.
6. Los Alamitos 63, Western 25: Western is better than that 38-point margin loss to Los Alamitos might convey. Seniors Josh Faulkner at running back and quarterback Anthony Luna are great players for Western, and it can be expected that Western will win 10 games this year.
7. They’re still good: Northwood, a CIF Southern Section 2022 champion, won its season opener 33-7 over Woodbridge. Quarterback Eddie Ma, who transferred to Northwood from Woodbridge, was outstanding for the Timberwolves.
8. So are they: Laguna Hills, also a 2022 CIF-SS champion, is running the ball well again. It rushed for 254 yards, led by junior Ryan McKevitt’s 160 yards and two touchdowns, in a 31-13 win over Aliso Niguel.
9. Servite 57, Silverado 0: In that game Friday, senior defensive lineman Justin De La Rosa had 11 tackles, including two sacks, for the Friars. A superior test comes this week when Servite plays Rancho Cucamonga on Friday at Cerritos College. Rancho Cucamonga (9-3 last year) was a 29-27 winner over Murrieta Valley last week.
10. Plenty of room for improvement: Yorba Linda, which went 14-1 and won a CIF-SS title last year, lost last week to Damien 31-21. The Mustangs pass defense and running game were lacking, two areas of strength last season. Those area will be called upon to improve with games coming up against Tesoro, El Modena and Villa Park.
Albano’s Orange County football rankings, Aug. 21
Orange County football Top 25: Mater Dei on top, Orange Lutheran No. 2 in Week 1 poll
Orange County high school football schedule for Week 1, Aug. 24-26
Eddie Ma shakes off rough start to lead Northwood football past Woodbridge
Football roundup: San Clemente, Santa Margarita, Mission Viejo begin season with victories