Saturday morning in Huntington Beach began with overcast skies. By the time dozens of hamburger patties had been grilled and the sweet aroma of the barbecue was beginning to spread across Edison High, the sun was up and Battle on the beach The seven-on-seven football tournament was gaining momentum.
By noon Bellflower St. John Bosco (4-0), Santa Ana Mater Day (4-0) and Mission Viejo (4-0) led the field of 20 teams, followed by Corona del Mar (3-1), San -Juan Capistrano J. Serra (3-0). 1), Edison (3-1), Los Alamitos (2-2) and Long Beach Poly (2-2). Quarterbacks threw, receivers caught, and defensemen went as far as pulling jerseys with their not-so-hidden holding technique.
When the smoke cleared in the afternoon and a little heat fatigue set in, the fittest survived and Mission Viejo became the champion by beating St. Louis. John Bosco 21-0 in the final. The final four in the top division were Saint Petersburg. John Bosco, Mater Dei, JSerra and Mission Viejo. St. John Bosco defeated J. Serra and Mission Viejo defeated Mater Dei in the semi-finals.
Among the lessons learned at Edison:
• Mission Viejo has experience and talent. A group of returning hitters led by quarterback Kadin Semonza and wide receivers Mikey Matthews, Jackson Holman and KJ Reed. Matthews catches so well that you just point the camera at him and wait until you can say “Wow”. It does not take a lot of time. Matthews caught the game-winning touchdown in the final game and eliminated Mater Dei in the semi-finals. The Diablos have several players who have been together for four years and will try to replicate the Anaheim Servite’s success last season with four year olds.
• Paulie’s quarterback was Darius Curry, who suffered a knee injury last season and chose not to trade in the spring when Warren’s move Niko Yamaleava made a big difference. Yamaleva went missing this summer as he traveled the country promoting his future school in Tennessee. Curry survived, fully recovered and continues the attack.
• St. Background John Bosco is full of talent, and there’s no one better than Ty Lee, security guard and cousin of former Mater Dei preeminent Bru McCoy. Lee, at UCLA, is physically fit and has an amazing closing speed. He has good timing and a great sense of knowing when to step in to interrupt the pass.
• Corona del Mar’s Cooper Hoch and Norco’s Grant Gray demonstrated outstanding receiving skills, making them the featured players this fall.
• Los Alamitos will grow or fall behind four-year-old quarterback Malachi Nelson. The Griffins have received many transfers and it will be interesting to see if there are enough quality linemen up front to place them in the Division 1 roster.
Midfielder Leviticus Sua of Mater Dei is the man among the boys. He is the epitome of physicality, and although tackles are not allowed in seven-on-seven, his very presence in the center makes him an intimidating player. He had an interception against Norco. He is an excellent student with the opportunity to go to Stanford among many schools.
• Defenders continue to hold positions repeatedly in these tournaments. The referees called penalties early in the day in an attempt to send a signal to full-backs and defenders.
• Quarterback CJ Tiller of Rancho Cucamonga moved to the area from Arizona to Boise State and should do well this fall thanks to the program that sent CJ Stroud to Ohio State.
• Chaparral has a fireball, 5’6 junior wide receiver named Stacey Dobbins, who has the quickness and fearlessness to create mismatches.
At the Simi Valley Santa Maria Street tournament. Joseph defeated Sherman Oaks of Notre Dame in the championship game.
At Newport Harbor, the host school won their own tournament, defeating San Clemente for the championship.
San Juan Capistrano The San Juan Hills won 5-0 at Semper Fi at Carlsbad La Costa Canyon to sophomore quarterback Michael Tollefson.
Pasadena won their tournament championship by defeating Downey in the final.
Oxnard won the Culver City tournament, defeating Loyola for the championship.
Laguna Beach went undefeated and won its seven-on-seven tournament championship.