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El Toro football posts two dramatic wins after learning to adjust to ‘sudden change’

Orange County Register logo Orange County Register 9/20/2022 Dan Albano, The Orange County Register

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El Toro’s football team held a few “reflective practices” after a 38-0 loss to Fountain Valley on Sept. 1.

Chargers coach Randall Reynoso said the lopsided defeat not only surprised his program but demoralized some of the players.

The third-year coach pin-pointed practice strategies as a potential cure and injected ways to better prepare his team for the “sudden changes” that football often delivers. Turnovers, mistakes and explosive plays by the opposition, he said, can shift momentum in an instance but successful teams know how to respond to the adversity.

El Toro has showed the past two weeks that it’s learning that lesson.

The Chargers (2-3) edged Huntington Beach 15-14 and upset then-No. 14 Capistrano Valley 41-38 to build speed for its nonleague game Friday at No. 17 Tesoro (2-2).

“They’re now believing in that change and in themselves,” Reynoso said of his team. “I’m happy how we responded.”

Reynoso said he inserted more unpredictability into practices after the Fountain Valley game to help simulate adversity.

The first session, for example, pitted the first-team offense against the first-team defense. Other changes included the sequences of the drills.

El Toro put its lessons into practice against Capistrano Valley last week. The Chargers rallied from a four-point deficit with a long scoring drive in the fourth quarter. Running back Thomas Frum capped about a six-minute march by scoring his sixth touchdown with less than a minute left.

The week before, sophomore Mattias Trabattoni kicked a last-second 25-yard field goal to beat Huntington Beach.

El Toro has progressed while integrating several first-year starters, especially on defense.

The secondary features three first-year starting juniors in cornerbacks Cody LeCompte and Shane Stocker and safety Jaden Renick.

El Toro has mostly used two-way senior Josh Vivonia only at wide receiver so far but has teamed the senior with newcomers Josh Dinh and Mehki Mitchell, two other juniors.

The Chargers also feature a new quarterback in Ben Armendariz, a junior transfer from Tustin.

The influx of juniors is beginning to blend with the Chargers’ talent.

Frum, a 5-foot-7, 140-pound senior, used his quickness and durability to rack up 414 all-purpose yards against Capistrano Valley. The one-time Mission Viejo back rushed 31 times for 169 yards and four TDs, had two receptions for 88 yards, including a 76-yard score, and returned a kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown.

“He has great vision,” Reynoso said of Frum.

El Toro also brings a physical element. Left tackle Nick Brown (6-5, 330) and left guard Carlos Teofilo (5-8, 275) help anchor an offensive front that features center Connor Carpenter, right guard Bryan Tobon, right tackle Dylan Harlow and tight end Scott Sugg.

The defense features tackles Derrick Ford (6-3, 330) and Emilio Noguera (6-2, 305) and active linebackers Clay Cafferty and Josh Quitugua.

But for all the progress, Reynoso knows plenty of work lies ahead as they get ready for nonleague games against Tesoro and Camarillo and then Sea View League play. The Chargers know they need to continue to improve.

“There’s no days off with our schedule,” Reynoso said.

NOTES

Capistrano Valley wide receiver Dane Benedix (knee) is expected to be a game-time decision to play a limited number of snaps against Cypress on Friday, Cougars coach Sean Curtis said. …

Senior running back JJ Bravo broke about a 40-yard run in the fourth quarter last week for Century’s first touchdown of the season in a 32-7 loss to Mountain View. …

Los Alamitos freshman defensive lineman Manoah Faupusa (6-2, 300) used his skills as a rugby player on two rushing touchdowns against Santa Margarita last week. “Manoah likes the ball,” Griffins coach Ray Fenton said with a laugh. “We had him at left tackle and once we just put him over on defense only, that freed him to play that fullback spot, which is a lot like a rugby scrum.” …

Dana Hills running back Christian Guarascio leads Orange County in rushing with 923 yards in four games. The senior has surpassed his junior year total by more than 300 yards. “(He) had a great offseason getting bigger, stronger and faster,” Dolphins coach Tony Henney said of the 6-foot-1, 200-pound Guarascio, who also sees spot-duty at linebacker.

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