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Fryer: The high school football games I’m already excited about

Orange County Register logo Orange County Register 8/13/2022 Steve Fryer, The Orange County Register

Mater Dei vs. St. John Bosco is Oct. 7 at Santa Ana Stadium.

You’re probably going to want to watch that Trinity League football contest, via the live telecast or in person. If you go, the game might not be the only reason it will be a great event. More on that later.

Mater Dei-St. John Bosco isn’t the only game on the 2022 high school schedule to be fired up about.

We will see storied rivalries renewed. We’ll get to check out future college and pro players. We’ll see the  marching bands that add flavor and the student sections that add spirit — and some comic relief.

Orange County high school football never disappoints.

Here are the games I am already excited about …

Capistrano Valley at Tustin, Thursday, Aug. 18: Capistrano Valley quarterback Trey Kukuk was so much fun to watch last season. He can sling it and he can run with speed and power. He is going to be better this season, and how much better will be interesting to see. As for Tustin’s outlook for this season opener … “We’re going to be able to run the ball,” Tustin coach Anthony Lopez said. “We should, we’re Tustin.” The right side of the Tustin offensive line has brothers Adonijah (5-11, 305) and Benaiah Faletoi (6-2, 304). The Tillers are going to run the ball behind them. You know it, I know it and so does everyone else. Good luck stopping them.

Villa Park vs. Orange at El Modena High, Aug. 26: Villa Park usually is the best public school football team in the Orange-Villa Park area. El Modena and Orange get super-pumped for Villa Park. Villa Park people are the only people in the northeast part of Orange County who like Villa Park. Orange lost to Villa Park by a touchdown last year. Orange might be better than it was last year, and Villa Park might be in a rare rebuilding year. Panthers people will go nuts if their team wins the game, and that bus trip around the Orange Plaza/Circle — or whatever the name of that spot is — will be wild. As a bonus, the west-facing stands at Fred Kelly Stadium offer excellent views of sunsets and Disneyland fireworks.

Orange Lutheran vs. Edison at Huntington Beach High, Sept. 2: A veteran coach, when informed that Orange Lutheran would be No. 5 in the Orange County preseason top 25, asked me in a puzzled voice, “Why do you think Orange Lutheran is so good?” Because Orange Lutheran is well coached and has plenty of talent on its roster – unproven-under-the-lights talent, yes, but it’s still talent. This game will be a good test for the Lancers and we’ll learn a lot about them. No. 8 Edison loves playing against higher-ranked teams, especially from the Trinity League. If you play Edison, be ready for 48 minutes of intense football.

San Clemente vs. Corona del Mar at Newport Harbor, Sept. 9: San Clemente’s Cole Robertson is an excellent linebacker, and it’s going to be interesting to see how coach Jaime Ortiz and his staff move Robertson around to find lanes to harass Corona del Mar’s fine quarterback David Rasor. A personal bummer for this game is that when Newport Harbor’s Davidson Field was rebuilt one of the worst press boxes in the county was constructed. I think Arte Moreno designed it.

Santa Margarita vs. Los Alamitos at Cerritos College, Sept. 16: Santa Margarita beat Los Alamitos 42-21 last season. Los Alamitos had a 14-0 lead at halftime. Los Alamitos is going to want revenge and the Griffins have the team to get it. But Santa Margarita might be better this season than it was in 2021. Eagles quarterback Jaxon Potter is going to have a tremendous senior year. And so is Los Alamitos quarterback Malachi Nelson, who might end up being the best quarterback Los Alamitos has ever had. If you see me walking up to the press box, please say hello and engage me in conversation. It’s a long way up there at Cerritos College, and I’ll be grateful for the opportunity to regulate my breathing. Did you know that each year every high school stadium makes the press box further away from the field? It’s true!

St. John Bosco vs. Mater Dei at Santa Ana Stadium, Oct. 7: Mater Dei is No. 1 and St. John Bosco is No. 2 in’s preseason national rankings. The players, coaches, rankings and more give it Game of the Year status. Santa Ana Stadium is a grand venue for high school football and close to my heart – it’s the first place I saw a high school football game, Servite vs. Mater Dei in 1965, and it was the home field for my high school, Saddleback. St. John Bosco’s Panish Family Stadium is a superior venue for Mater Dei-Bosco, though, because of the splendid tailgate scene. Santa Ana Stadium environs are not as conducive to tailgating, but Bosco people probably will figure something out. Exit the car, set the nostrils for “carne asada” and explore.

Mater Dei vs. Servite at Cerritos College, Oct. 27: It’s the final regular-season game for both. Mater Dei will be on the verge of another Trinity League championship, whether it be a shared or outright title. Servite might be playing for a playoff berth. Servite players get amped for this game. For Mater Dei players, St. John Bosco is the bigger rival. Mater Dei players, though, know how important the Servite game is to Coach Bruce Rollinson. And if this is Rollinson’s final season, which I suspect it is, that adds habanero salsa to the platter.

Orange vs. Santa Ana at Santa Ana Stadium, Oct. 28: This is the final night of the regular season. This game usually is for the Orange Coast League championship and should be again … unless league newcomer St. Margaret’s comes in and messes it up. Santa Ana has one of the better marching bands in Orange County and it is a true marching band. The band still marches from the campus to Santa Ana Stadium for every home game. It’s one of the great traditions of Orange County sports. I’d march with them, but I have to save energy for the ascent to the press box.

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