Yorba Linda–Corona del Mar Clash Highlights Southern Section Semifinals

Yorba Linda–Corona del Mar Clash Highlights Southern Section Semifinals

Corona Del Mar's wide receiver Russell Weir (8). (David Woolbert/David Woolbert Photography)

Dan Wood

Dan Wood


Updated: 12/21/2023


Ten Orange County, California high school football teams, including two that are set to duel in a rematch of a 2022 playoff game, will participate in the CIF Southern Section semifinals on Nov. 17.
The winners will advance to next week’s section championship games, but first will have to deal with a weather forecast that includes the possibility of significant rain. Soggy fields, something Southern California squads have not experienced this season, certainly could affect teams, particularly those that emphasize passing offenses.
All games are set for 7 p.m. kickoffs.

Division 4

Yorba Linda vs. Corona del Mar (at Newport Harbor High)

These two hooked up in a Division 3 semifinal last season, with Yorba Linda scoring a 51–20 home-field victory on its way to capturing the Southern Section championship.
Corona del Mar, 7–5 overall after playoff victories over Paraclete of Lancaster and Santa Barbara, gets the home game this time around. Boise State-bound senior quarterback Kaleb Annett has thrown for 2,052 yards and 24 touchdowns, with his favorite receiver, senior Russell Weir, catching 57 balls for 804 yards and eight scores.
The Sea Kings boast a bevy of pass-catching threats, with sophomore Dorsett Stecker having 54 receptions and 6-foot-6, 230-pound junior tight end Zach Giuliano, 34.
Yorba Linda, 9–3 overall after playoff wins over Moorpark and Loyola of Los Angeles, features a balanced offense. Junior quarterback Holden Nagin is completing 70 percent of his passes and has thrown for 2,003 yards and 28 touchdowns.
Senior Dylan Gardner leads Mustangs receivers with 59 catches for 844 yards and eight touchdowns, while senior Chase Jones has rushed for 1,297 yards and 18 scores.

Division 1

Mater Dei vs. Sierra Canyon (at Santa Ana Stadium)

Southern California’s top-ranked team before its 28–0 loss to Trinity League rival St. John Bosco of Bellflower on Oct. 13, Mater Dei of Santa Ana has won three consecutive games since, improving to 10–1 overall with a 38–0 playoff romp over JSerra of San Juan Capistrano last week.
The Monarchs, led by Stanford-bound senior quarterback Elijah Brown, are in line for a potential championship-game rematch with St. John Bosco, which hosts Centennial of Corona in the other Division 1 semifinal.
Brown has thrown for 2,331 yards and 31 touchdowns while completing 72 percent of his passes. Junior Marcus Harris is the top receiver with 35 catches. Junior Jordon Davidson and senior Nathaniel Frazier have each rushed for more than 500 yards, but both missed last week’s game due to injuries.
Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth figures to provide a stiff test, entering with an 11–0 overall record.

Division 2

Servite at Serra

It’s been an up-and-down season for Servite of Anaheim, which opened 4–1 before dropping four of five Trinity League games. The Friars, 7–5 overall, rebounded with playoff wins over Valencia and last week’s 27–20 victory over highly regarded Long Beach Poly to earn the date opposite Serra of Gardena (9–3).
Junior quarterback Leo Hannan is hitting 63 percent of his passes while throwing for 2,086 yards and 13 touchdowns. Sophomore Devan Parker is the top receiver with 45 catches, while junior Quaid Carr is the leading ground-gainer with 1,010 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Mission Viejo at Murrieta Valley

Coach Chad Johnson’s unorthodox two-quarterback system employing sophomore Luke Fahey and junior Draiden Trudeau has worked well for Mission Viejo, which is 9–3 after playoff victories over Palos Verdes and Oaks Christian of Westlake Village.
Sophomore Vance Spafford has caught a combined 64 passes, for 1,182 yards and 16 touchdowns, from Fahey and Trudeau. Junior Hinesward Lilomaiava and senior Chase Valousky have rushed for 764 and 623 yards, respectively, with Lilomaiava scoring 12 touchdowns.
Murrieta Valley, a 53–52, double-overtime winner over top-seeded Rancho Cucamonga last week, is 9–3 overall.

Division 3

St. Bonaventure at San Juan Hills

A 24–17 loss to Sea View League rival Trabuco Hills of Mission Viejo is the only thing standing between San Juan Hills of San Juan Capistrano and a perfect season. The top-seeded Stallions are 11–1 after posting playoff victories over St. Francis of La Canada and Citrus Valley of Redlands.
Sophomore quarterback Timmy Herr has hit nearly 68 percent of his passes while throwing for 2,259 yards and 21 touchdowns, and has also rushed for 547 yards and 18 scores. Washington-bound senior Jason Robinson Jr. is the top receiver with 64 catches for 824 yards and nine scores. Senior Sullivan Land leads the ground game with 854 yards and 10 touchdowns.
St. Bonaventure of Ventura (9–3) will also have to deal with San Juan Hills’ outstanding linebacker tandem of senior Jake Javorsky and junior Weston Port.

Division 5

Western at Orange Vista

Since opening its season with a 63–25 loss to highly regarded Los Alamitos, Western of Anaheim has run off 11 consecutive victories, with each coming by at least 27 points.
Orange Vista of Perris (9–3) figures to have its hands full dealing with Pioneers senior quarterback Anthony Luna and an array of skilled receivers. Western forced five turnovers in a 49–19 victory over Apple Valley last week, with senior Josh Faulkner returning a fumble recovery and an interception for touchdowns.

Division 6

Huntington Beach at Simi Valley

After finishing just 1–4 in the Sunset League, Huntington Beach (6–6 overall) has taken advantage of its at-large playoff entry with victories over Glendora and Ontario Christian to gain a matchup with Simi Valley (7–5).
The Oilers feature a talented freshman quarterback in Brady Edmunds, who has thrown for 2,331 yards and 21 touchdowns. Thirteen of the scores have gone to senior Hunter Gray, who has 48 catches for 1,121 yards. Senior Tyler Young has rushed for 1,189 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Division 7

Martin Luther King vs. El Dorado (at Valencia High)

El Dorado of Placentia (7–5) has advanced with playoff victories over Laguna Beach and Redondo Union of Redondo Beach, giving up a total of just seven points in the process.
King of Riverside (8–4) has beaten Lakewood and Salesian of Los Angeles.
Dual-threat senior quarterback Nate Bento of El Dorado has completed 61 percent of his passes while throwing for 2,197 yards and 22 touchdowns, and also has run for 843 yards and seven scores. Golden Hawks junior running back J.P. Murray, meanwhile, has rushed for 921 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Division 11

Westminster vs. Riverside Poly (at Martin Luther King High)

Westminster rebounded from a 42–7 loss to Laguna Beach in its Oct. 27 regular season-finale to score playoff wins over two Montebello schools, Schurr and Cantwell-Sacred Heart of Mary. The latter was a 3–0 decision, courtesy of a fourth-quarter field goal from sophomore Jaden Tan.
Poly is 6–6, with playoff victories over Esperanza of Anaheim and Patriot of Jurupa Valley.
Dan Wood

Dan Wood


Dan Wood is a community sports reporter based in Orange County, California. He has covered sports professionally for some 43 years, spending nearly three decades in the newspaper industry and 14 years in radio. He is an avid music fan, with a strong lean toward country and classic rock.

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