When it comes to invaluable weapons, kicker-punter Connor Loftus from Anaheim Servite has been one of the best this season.
He came into Saturday night's CIF state championship Open Division bowl game with 15 field goals, including a long of 53, and he hasn't missed from under 40 yards. In the Pac-5 semifinals, he had a 68-yard punt against Mission Hills Alemany. Even more impressive is his ability to put the ball consistently into the end zone on kickoffs, forcing teams to drive nearly the length of the field against one of the best defenses in the Southland.
"Whenever you can make a team go 80 yards, that's hard to do," Coach Troy Thomas said. "He's just a huge weapon for us."
Loftus is even better in the classroom. All he gets are A's on his report card.
"I've never gotten a B my whole life," he said. "You try to be perfect and it translates to other parts of my life."
He faces a dilemma in his college choice, whether to pick a school with a big-time football program or head to the Ivy League for academics and football. He has a scholarship offer from Michigan but also can get into Harvard and Pennsylvania.
"I don't want to think about it right now," he said. "I want to win the state championship."
Poor field conditions
Steady rain over two days left the Home Depot Center's grass field drenched, especially in the middle, where a single step produced a splash.
"It should be played on FieldTurf," Folsom Coach Kris Richardson said.
Escalon, which won the Division III game over San Diego Madison, 30-14, relished the rain and tricky footing because it runs the ball.
Escalon Coach Mark Loureiro joked that he had an on-off switch in his pocket to control the conditions, saying, "It seemed like I was dialing the weatherman direct. When they had the ball, I'd push the button to make it rain a little harder and when we had the ball I dialed it down a bit. Of course the rain is a factor. I'd be lying if I said it wasn't, but we've been playing in the rain for four weeks, and it still comes down to blocking and tackling and holding onto the ball."
Poor weather definitely affected attendance this weekend at Home Depot Center. The Division I and IV games on Friday drew 3,689, a disappointment considering that Corona Centennial has had a strong fan base.
Eubank to ASU
Corona Centennial quarterback Michael Eubank announced Saturday he has committed to Arizona Sate. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound Eubank passed for 2,831 yards and ran for 1,320 yards.
Before Centennial Coach Matt Logan addressed his team after the Huskies' 15-13 loss to Palo Alto on Friday, senior quarterback Eubank gave an emotional speech, thanking his teammates for their effort and commitment throughout the season, saying he "couldn't have played with a better bunch of guys."
Logan then brought forward tearful kicker Ezequiel Rivera, who missed what would have been a game-winning 42-yard field goal with 30 seconds left.
"Your coaches cost you this game," Logan said, placing blame for the Huskies' defeat squarely on his shoulders. "That last play didn't decide this. There were a lot of plays we didn't make throughout the game."
Palo Alto's strategy
Palo Alto seemed to know every play Centennial was going to run Friday, and Vikings Coach Earl Hansen attributed that to a great week of practice.
"We had a good game plan coming in here and the players executed it very well," Hansen said. "This is a very bright defensive team. We only have one Division I player ( Stanford-bound defensive back Kevin Anderson), but these kids adjusted very well during the game. You can't have a better dream season than this."
MVP for Farmer
Gardena Serra's George Farmer has picked up most-valuable-player honors in the Mission League.