Starting the high school football week in Orange County with notes, comments and observations …
1. Orange County at the half. We are halfway through the high school football season. Here are some halfway awards …
Offensive player of the year: Mater Dei junior quarterback Elijah Brown has completed 70 percent of his passes with 15 touchdowns and two interceptions. He is the most important player on what is by a large margin the best team in county football. Others considered are (in alphabetical order): Capistrano Valley quarterback Trey Kukuk; Los Alamitos receiver Makai Lemon; Canyon quarterback Christian Lundsberg; and Los Alamitos quarterback Malachi Nelson.
Defensive player of the year: Mater Dei senior linebacker Leviticus Su’a, so fast and so strong, is the Monarchs’ leading tackler. Others considered are (alphabetical order): Mission Viejo defensive end Jonathan Becerra; Newport Harbor safety Carson de Avila; Cypress safety Trevor Monteleone; and Yorba Linda linebacker Wyatt Mosier.
Coach of the year: We try to bestow this upon someone who has not received it before, or has not received it in a long time. Candidates so far are numerous and include (again, alphabetical order): Jeff Bailey of Yorba Linda; Jeff Grady of Edison; Phil Hughes of Canyon; Zack La Monda of El Dorado; Peter Lofthouse of Newport Harbor; Scott McKnight of JSerra; Matt Mitchell of El Modena; and Mark Nolan of Trabuco Hills. Someone not included there might get coach of the year recognition.
2. T.A. Cunningham eligible at Los Alamitos. Monday was a bad day for offensive tackles in the Sunset League.
T.A. Cunningham, a 6-foot-6, 265-pound defensive lineman from Georgia, was declared by the CIF Southern Section athletically eligible for Los Alamitos and can play Friday against Newport Harbor.
CIF Southern Section leadership wants kids to play and will do all it can to make that happen. The CIF-SS office had to investigate the possibility of pre-enrollment contact and if Cunningham’s arrival at Los Alamitos was an athletically-motivated transfer per its bylaws. Of course, every student-athlete transfer can be seen at least a little as athletically motivated, and with Cunningham the move from Georgia, where name- mage-and-likeness financial gain is outlawed for high school students but is available in California, looks very athletically motivated.
Cunningham has been through more than a teenager should have to endure. Playing football will be equal parts joy and relief for him Friday.
3. That’s gotta hurt. Video is circulating on the internet of a young flag-bearing man running downfield at the Kennedy-Katella football game Friday at Glover Stadium, and then trying to scale a tall block wall to escape. He did not make it.
He was pulled down and body-slammed to the dirt that is the right-center field warning track for baseball games played there. Anaheim Union High School District spokesman John Bautista said the individual is of adult age, has no affiliation with either school and that the district is investigating what happened.
4. Orange Coast underway. The seven-team Orange Coast League is in its third week of league play.
Three teams are 2-0: Calvary Chapel, Orange and Santa Ana. That number will be reduced this week. Calvary Chapel and Santa Ana play each other Friday at Santa Ana Stadium. Orange does not play this week.
5. And away they go. League play starts in six-team leagues this week.
The best of the league openers are Santa Margarita vs. Orange Lutheran in the Trinity League on Friday at Orange Coast College, La Habra vs. Troy in the Freeway League on Friday at Fullerton High, and Los Alamitos at Newport Harbor in the Sunset League on Friday.
6. Not all of the best games are league games. Several nonleague games are worth a look.
El Modena plays Villa Park on Thursday at Fred Kelly Stadium on the El Modena campus. It’s Villa Park’s home game. El Modena has not defeated Villa Park in a long time and came close last season when Villa Park won 31-28.
San Juan Hills plays at Tesoro on Friday. San Juan Hills is 0-6. The Stallions are going to get a win … maybe Friday?
7. The Division 1 projection. If the playoffs were to start this week and Division 1 is an eight-team division, the first-round games would be (home teams listed second) Edison vs. Mater Dei, Bishop Amat vs. St. John Bosco, Los Alamitos vs. Centennial of Corona and Mission Viejo vs. Long Beach Poly. It’s difficult to see a team that would keep Mater Dei and St. John Bosco out of the Division 1 championship game.
8. Transferring can work out fine. Edison quarterback Parker Awad started his high school football life at Mater Dei. Cypress quarterback Aidan Houston was at Los Alamitos. Awad and Houston would not have the opportunities to play, and to play well, if they had not made their moves.
9. Who needs Mater Dei-Bosco tickets? Tickets for next week’s showdown at Santa Ana Stadium go on sale at GoFan.co on Monday, Oct. 3, at 9 a.m. Good luck!
10. Eleven: As in, there are 11 undefeated teams in Orange County football. They are Canyon, Crean Lutheran, Cypress, Edison, El Dorado, El Modena, Laguna Hills, Mater Dei, Rancho Alamitos, Westminster and Yorba Linda.