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Huntley’s Week 4 football notes: Capistrano Valley, Canyon have water-proof QBs

Orange County Register logo Orange County Register 9/14/2022 Michael Huntley, The Orange County Register

Michael Huntley takes a hard look at the Orange County high school football scene after last week’s games. He’s looking at what worked or didn’t work, who starred, who stumbled and who is feeling the heat this week.

Air it out! Rain or shine

If you thought that a downpour of rain would make some of Orange County’s pass-happy teams change their ways and run the ball, you were sorely mistaken.

Canyon and Capistrano Valley did not let wet footballs deter them from passing the ball on nearly every play last week.

Capo Valley threw the ball 46 times and had less than 10 designed runs against Newport Harbor. Canyon also ran the ball less than 10 times in a win over Pacifica.

With quarterbacks like Capo Valley’s Trey Kukuk and Canyon’s Christian Lundsberg, it’s easy to see why the coaches want to let them throw as much as possible, even during a storm.

Newport Harbor also passed the ball on over 75 percent of its snaps in the first half against Capo Valley. When both teams throw the ball with that much frequency, you get a game that lasts over three hours which gives this rain-soaked reporter so much joy.

Weight off their shoulders

Two typically successful programs breathed a sigh of relief and won their first games in Week 3 — Katella and El Toro.

Katella cruised to a 28-0 win over Portola after losing its first three games by a total of 12 points. Daniel Viramontes forced and recovered a fumble in the end zone for Katella’s first score of the game.

El Toro shocked some people when it beat Huntington Beach 15-14 on a game-winning field goal with four seconds left.

Chargers quarterback Ben Armendariz threw touchdown passes to Josh Vivonia and Thomas Frum.

Cameron Kozak had two sacks and Jake Peralta recovered a fumble on an errant snap to give El Toro the ball late in the game. Arturo Lopez made a 17-yard field goal to give the Chargers their first win.

Both programs have had recent success and are well-coached. This could be a sign that both teams are about to turn their season around.

Big fish, small pond

This offseason, Western’s Drew Faulkner was a standout two-way player for the prominent passing league team OC Elite.

I attended a tournament in January and was surprised to see Faulkner fitting right in with players from bigger schools like Mater Dei, Santa Margarita and Edison. Every coach raved about him and the players clearly respected him.

Western is a very good public school in Anaheim that is a perennial playoff team that will run through the Orange League this season. But there is a big difference between competing with Western’s opponents and competing with the top skill players in the county.

The hard work has paid off for Faulkner, who is off to a dominant start that colleges have recognized. Faulkner has 623 yards receiving and four touchdowns through four games.

He has offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Idaho and San Diego State. It is great that Faulkner challenged himself against top competition this offseason. It is even better that Faulkner stayed at his local school and made the team better instead of transferring like a lot of athletes do.

Sneaky fun game

There are some great games on the Week 4 slate: Santa Margarita vs. Los Alamitos, Edison vs. San Clemente, El Modena vs. La Habra. But a game I am excited to see the results of is between Laguna Beach and Crean Lutheran.

Crean Lutheran is off to its first 3-0 start since 2018, its first year in the Empire League.

Quarterback Gavin Rogers has been incredibly efficient for the Saints, completing 73 percent of his passes with nine touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Eli Bray is a talented sophomore running back and Santa Margarita transfer Ty Benefield is one of the better senior receivers in the county.

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Laguna Beach has won two consecutive games, against Northwood and Capistrano Valley Christian, after narrowly losing to a 2-1 Dana Hills team.

Jackson Rodriguez has quietly been one of the top receivers in Orange County with 338 yards and six touchdowns. Tight end Ryner Swanson has 326 yards receiving on 25 catches. Swanson recently visited Utah and BYU and received a recruiting package from Alabama.

These are two quality small school programs on the rise and it should make for a fun matchup Friday.

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