Mission Viejo (10-0) The South Coast League champion Diablos are the No. 1 team in the Orange County and they played like it Friday in a 49-7 victory over El Toro. Mission Viejo was the recipient of some excellent offseason transfers who made major contributions to the Diablos this season – quarterback Ian Fieber, who transferred from Orange Lutheran; and running back Alex Suchesk and receiver Sean Modster, both from Santa Margarita. Wide receiver/defensive back Max Redfield might be Orange County’s best player. Defensive end Garrett Marino is a key part of an excellent defense. Mission Viejo has not won a Pac-5 Division championship. The Diablos lost to Servite in the 2010 Pac-5 final. They open the 2012 playoffs with a home game against Westlake, the No. 4 team from the Marmonte League.
Mater Dei (8-2) The Monarchs finished second in the Trinity League, behind St. John Bosco which beat them, 31-20., and are seeded No. 4 in the division. Their other loss was by one point to Narbonne of Harbor City. Narbonne is No. 2 in the state rankings, in which Bosco is No. 5. Monarchs senior receiver/linebacker Thomas Duarte is one of the county’s top players. Mater Dei, which finished 4-1 in league, has been rotating Ryan McMahon and Chase Forrest at quarterback, usually starting McMahon and moving in Forrest in certain situations. The Monarchs have scored 68 points over their past two games, victories over Orange Lutheran and Servite. Mater Dei’s best unit, though, might be its defense. That defense will get tested in Mater Dei’s first-round home game against Lakewood, which is averaging 30 points a game, scored 67 against Millikan two weeks ago and goes into the playoffs coming off of its bye week.
El Toro (9-1) The Chargers have to recover from a very difficult loss. They got hammered, 49-7, by Mission Viejo on Friday. Conner Manning, last year’s Orange County offensive player of the year, had thrown only three interceptions through nine games but threw six against Mission Viejo. El Toro, and Manning in particular, must put that nightmarish game in the past because the Chargers have quite a challenge in the first round, Santa Margarita. The Chargers, who finished 3-1 in the South Coast League, had not scored fewer than 30 points in any game this season until Friday, and put 77 points on the scoreboard in a nonleague victory over Valhalla of El Cajon. El Toro running back Jacob Furnari injured an elbow early in the Mission Viejo game, and did not play after that. His value to the Chargers is large, and El Toro will need him against Santa Margarita.
Santa Margarita (8-2) What a year it’s been for the Eagles. They lost two 2011 All-Trinity League players, receiver Sean Modster and running back Alex Suchesk, in the summer when they transferred to Mission Viejo. A starting tackle, Eric Bunte, later transferred to Mission, too, All-County quarterback Johnny Stanton suffered a season-ending knee injury in September, and All-County running back Ryan Wolpin has a fractured ankle. Still, Santa Margarita beat some good teams and finished third in the Trinity League behind St. John Bosco and Mater Dei, which beat the Eagles. Santa Margarita is the only team to beat the division’s top-seeded team, St. Bonaventure of Ventura. The Eagles play a first-round away game against El Toro.
Tesoro (7-3) What a week it’s been for Tesoro. The team’s head coach, Brian Barnes, was fired Tuesday. The team traveled to Chula Vista for a nonleague, season-closer Friday and won big, 56-17. When Trabuco Hills beat San Clemente on Friday, a three-way tie for the South Coast League’s No. 3 position was created. With head-to-head results unable to separate the trio, it had to go to coin flips to determine that Tesoro is the league’s No. 3 team. So Tesoro applied for one of the Pac-5 Division’s two at-large berths, and Tesoro got one. The Titans play at Trinity League champion St. John Bosco in the first round. Tesoro running back Nate Tago is averaging 168 rushing yards a game and 7 yards a carry.
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