A look at the first half of the football season, and predictions for what’s ahead – Orange County Register

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The high school football regular season is nearly halfway completed for most teams.

Here are some observations and opinions on what has happened so far, and what might happen in coming weeks.

Let’s start with some awards for the first half of the season:

Offensive player of the year: Mater Dei quarterback Elijah Brown.

Quarterback is the most important position on the field and among the more difficult positions to master in team sports. Sometimes mega-talented teams like Mater Dei get by with an average or slightly above-average quarterback, but Brown is a major reason for the Monarchs’ success.

Other players who probably will be in our county offensive player of the year conversation in December are San Clemente running back Aiden Rubin, Tustin running back Eimesse Essis and Santa Margarita receiver Trent Mosley.

Defensive player of the year: Capistrano Valley linebacker Jackson Sievers.

He is credited for a county-leading 67 total tackles with 48 solo tackles and seven tackles for loss. The Cougars are 5-0 going into Friday’s game at Barstow.

Others who have looked like sure-thing All-County defense selections are San Juan Hills linebackers Jake Javorsky and Weston Port and San Clemente linebacker Puka Fuimaono.

Capistrano Valley's Jackson Sievers had three sacks, recovered a fumbled punt return and had a TD catch in a 38-14 victory over Huntington Beach on Friday, Sept. 1. (Photo by Lou Ponsi)
Capistrano Valley’s Jackson Sievers had three sacks, recovered a fumbled punt return and had a TD catch in a 38-14 victory over Huntington Beach on Friday, Sept. 1. (Photo by Lou Ponsi)

Coach of the year: Robert Frith of San Juan Hills.

The Stallions went 4-8 last year and their 2022 league co-MVP quarterback transferred out. Yet they took a 5-0 record and No. 10 position in the Orange County Top 25 into this week. …

Upset of the year: Servite’s 28-24 win over Los Alamitos.


At the brink of the season’s halfway point, it’s worth taking a look at the CalPreps rankings that will be used to place teams in playoff divisions after the regular season ends.

If Division 1 is a 10-team bracket like it was last year, then based on the rankings this week the Orange County teams in Division 1 would be Mater Dei, Orange Lutheran, Santa Margarita and Mission Viejo.

San Clemente’s rating is 49.8, just below the 50 rating of Oaks Christian, which would be the 10th and last team placed in Division 1 if it is a 10-team bracket again.

San Clemente would be the top-seeded team in Division 2, which was a 16-team division last season.


Mater Dei and St. John Bosco again are the top two teams in the Trinity League with a considerable drop to the other four teams, which seem to be very similar in quality.

Predicted final standings: 1. Mater Dei; 2. St. John Bosco; 3. Orange Lutheran; 4. Santa Margarita; 5. Servite; 6. JSerra.

The four-through-six order of finish could be reversed, that’s how tight those three teams are.


Segerstrom at Garden Grove on Oct. 19 will decide the championship of the Big 4 League. …

Villa Park will take a 10-0 record into the playoffs. The Spartans have a great running attack led by running back Carter Christie and an active defense that features linebacker Jacob Johnson. Villa Park likely will need to improve its passing game to get to a CIF-SS championship game. …

Tustin is set to go 5-0 in the Empire League. The top competition there is Cypress which still is a capable team but lacks the number of offensive playmakers it has had in recent seasons. …

La Habra is 2-3 but still is the beat team in the Freeway League. …

El Modena vs. El Dorado on Sept. 30 at Valencia High is the likely league championship game in the North Hills League. …

Orange still is the team to beat in the Orange Coast League. Santa Ana and its ace running back Charles Hughes are the Panthers’ top challenger in the seven-team league. …

Laguna Beach junior quarterback Jackson Kollock (6-4, 225) might be the current county high school quarterback who will go furthest in college or perhaps pro football. …

Laguna Beach quarterback Jackson Kollock throws the ball while on the run during a nonleague game against Dana Hills on Friday, August 25, 2023. (Photo by Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)
Laguna Beach quarterback Jackson Kollock throws the ball while on the run during a nonleague game against Dana Hills on Friday, August 25, 2023. (Photo by Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

Western is going to go 5-0 again in the Orange League with large margins of victory in all five league games. …

Laguna Hills should not be as good as it is. Graduation took away most of the Hawks’ top players from last year’s CIF-SS and state championship team but here they are, taking a 5-0 record into this week. …

Irvine vs. Beckman on Oct. 19 at Tustin High will be the Pacific Hills League championship game. …

San Juan Hills is the best team in the Sea View League. Trabuco Hills is second best. …

It’s going to be Mission Viejo in first place and San Clemente in second again in the South Coast League. Tesoro is the league’s No. 3 team in the four-team league. Capistrano Valley will be the best last-place team in county football outside of the Trinity League. …

Predicted order of finish in the Sunset League, which is the most difficult league to forecast: 1. Los Alamitos; 2. Edison; 3. Corona del Mar; 4. Newport Harbor; 5. Huntington Beach; 6. Fountain Valley, which is better than it was last year. …

Five of the six teams in the Garden Grove League are .500 or better. That is unusual for that league. …

The Sage Hill 8-man football team is 3-0 going into Friday’s away game against Hesperia Christian. The Lightning’s average margin of victory is 40 points. …

Officials are getting confronted by parents as they leave fields after games. The refs do make mistakes and this seems to be the year in which, more than ever before, 15-yard penalties are marked off as 14- or 16-yard penalties. Parents need to get themselves under control and athletic directors must make sure their school provides the officials with ample security.

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