Sports

Hamburgers, holding and touchdowns: Welcome to summer football

Saturday morning in Huntington Beach started with an overcast sky. By the time dozens of hamburger patties were put on the grill and sweet barbecue aroma began to spread around Edison High, the sun had come out and the Battle at the Beach seven-on-seven football tournament was picking up steam.

By early afternoon, St. John Bosco (4-0), Santa Ana Mater Dei (4-0) and Mission Viejo (4-0) led the 20-team field, followed by Corona del Mar (3-1), JSerra (3-1), Edison (3-1), Los Alamitos (2-2) and Long Beach Poly (2-2). Quarterbacks were slinging, receivers were catching and defensive backs were going so far as pulling jerseys with their not-so-hidden holding technique.

When the smoke cleared after lunch and a little fatigue set in with the heat, it was survival of the fittest, and Mission Viejo emerged as the champion by defeating St. John Bosco 21-0 in the final. The final four in the top division were St. John Bosco, Mater Dei, JSerra and Mission Viejo. St. John Bosco defeated JSerra and Mission Viejo defeated Mater Dei in the semifinals.

Among the lessons learned at Edison:

—Mission Viejo has experience and talent with its returning group of offensive players led by quarterback Kadin Semonza and receivers Mikey Matthews, Jackson Holman and KJ Reed. Matthews is so good making catches that you just point a camera at him and wait until you can say, “Wow.” It doesn’t take long. Matthews caught the winning touchdown on the final play to eliminate Mater Dei in the semifinals. The Diablos have a number of players who’ve been together for four years and will try to duplicate the success Servite had last season with four-year players.

—Long Beach Poly’s quarterback was Darius Curry, who suffered a knee injury last season and decided not to transfer in the spring when a big deal was made out of Nico Iamaleava transferring from Warren. Iamaleava was missing in action on Saturday and has been for the summer while traveling around the country promoting his future school, Tennessee. Curry stuck it out, is fully recovered and running the offense.

—St. John Bosco’s secondary is loaded with talent and no one is better than Ty Lee, a safety and the cousin of former Mater Dei standout Bru McCoy. Lee, a UCLA commit, is physical, has terrific closing speed. He possesses good timing and great instincts knowing when to enter a play to break up a pass.

—Corona del Mar’s Cooper Hoch and Norco’s Grant Gray displayed their standout receiving skills, making them marked players for this fall.

—Los Alamitos will rise or fall behind four-year starting quarterback Malachi Nelson. The Griffins have picked up lots of transfers and it will be interesting to see if there’s enough quality linemen up front to put them in the Division 1 mix.

—Linebacker Leviticus Su’a of Mater Dei is a man among boys. He’s a physical specimen and even though tackling isn’t allowed in seven-on-seven competitions, his mere presence in the middle makes him one intimidating player. He had an interception against Norco. He’s an A student with options of attending Stanford, among many schools.

—The defensive backs continue to repeatedly hold in these tournaments. The officials were calling penalties early in the day, trying to send a message to the cornerbacks and safeties.

—Quarterback CJ Tiller of Rancho Cucamonga moved to the area from Arizona, is committed to Boise State and should be very good this fall for a program that sent CJ Stroud to Ohio State.

—Chaparral has ball-of-fire 5-6 junior receiver named Stacy Dobbins, who has the quickness and fearlessness to create some mismatches this fall.

At the Simi Valley tournament, Santa Maria St. Joseph defeated Sherman Oaks Notre Dame in the championship game.

At Newport Harbor, the host school won its own tournament, defeating San Clemente in the championship game.

San Juan Hills went 5-0 in the Semper Fi tournament at La Costa Canyon behind sophomore quarterback Michael Tollefson.

Pasadena won its tournament championship, defeating Downey in the final.

Oxnard won the Culver City tournament, defeating Loyola in the championship.



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