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HUNTINGTON BEACH — The sun eventually broke through overcast skies at the Battle at the Beach passing tournament Saturday and made the shades donned on the field by USC committed quarterback Malachi Nelson of Los Alamitos fit right in.
Mission Viejo, however, shined the brightest.
The Diablos heated up during morning pool play and sizzled even more in the afternoon at Edison High to capture the biggest 7-on-7 competition of the summer with a 21-0 victory against St. John Bosco in the championship game.
Ball State committed quarterback Kadin Semonza capped a stellar day by throwing two touchdowns in the final to wide receiver KJ Reed and one to Arizona committed wide out Jackson Holman. Mission Viejo also received a two-point conversion catch from wide receiver Mikey Matthews and a late interception near the goal line by defensive back Michael D’Amato to finish 7-0 on the day.
“It’s a joy being out here, beating Trinity League teams,” Matthews said. “It is really fun. I like being the underdogs. … I’m here with my best friends, my brothers, so it’s super fun.”
In the semifinals, Matthews caught 20-yard TD pass from Semonza on the final play to lift Mission Viejo past Mater Dei 18-13. The senior caught the ball near the back corner of the end zone and was mobbed by teammates afterward.
“Our 4 Vertical team in the eighth grade lost in the championships to Mater Dei, so it was kind of personal,” Matthews said of the victory. “We’ve grown so much.”
In the quarterfinals, Mission Viejo defeated Los Alamitos 27-14 behind two touchdown receptions by Reed and one apiece by Matthews and senior Andrez Lewis. On some plays, Matthews drew extra attention from the defense to open his teammates.
“Which is an issue (for defenses) because we got five Power 5 guys (at wide receiver),” Semonza said of a group that includes Colorado commit Edward Schultz.
The Diablos also received an interception in the quarterfinals from cornerback Treyvon Tolmaire. The junior was part of a cornerback group that featured 6-foot-3 sophomore Dijon Lee Jr. and Joey Libutti.
“I’m excited for a big year,” Mission Viejo coach Chad Johnson said. “(But) when you get to Division 1 (during the season), it’s all about the linemen.”
St. John Bosco beat JSerra 18-4 in the other semifinal.