Santa Margarita quarterback Johnny Stanton is stopped by a Long Beach Poly… (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)
There was an earthquake that shook the prep football world in Southern California on Friday night, and when the ground stopped shaking after the realization that Anaheim Servite had been eliminated from the Pac-5 playoffs, there was much to consider.
Servite's 24-20 loss to Tesoro in the quarterfinals ends the Friars' two-year reign as Pac-5 Division champions and moves unbeaten Westlake Village Westlake (12-0) into the driver's seat to be the Southern California representative in the CIF state championship bowl game for the Open Division if the Warriors keep winning in the Northern Division.
And now the Pac-5 can be officially labeled wide open, with next week's semifinals matching Tesoro against San Clemente and Santa Margarita against Mission Viejo in an all-Orange County affair.
But Santa Margarita (10-2) deserves everyone's attention after a 49-16 drubbing of No. 3-seeded Long Beach Poly.
Orange County has produced its share of big-time quarterbacks — Matt Leinart, Mark Sanchez, Matt Barkley — and junior Johnny Stanton of Santa Margarita is making plays running and passing that have thrust him into the conversation of what signifies prep greatness.
He had four touchdown runs against the Jackrabbits (10-2) and rushed for 125 yards in 24 carries, the sixth time this season he has rushed for more than 100 yards. He passed for 103 yards.
"He's special," Coach Harry Welch said.
Added lineman Max Tuerk: "You never know with him. He can break it any time. He's a stud."
In the second quarter, Stanton eluded three defenders who were getting ready to sack him and ended up on an 18-yard touchdown run, diving into the end zone after a bone-crunching block by the USC-bound Tuerk, who was supposed to get the ball on a tackle-eligible play.
Stanton improvised and came through with the play of the game, which put Santa Margarita on top 21-6.
"I'm bummed I didn't get the chance to get the ball to him," Stanton said.
No quarterback in the 23-year history of Santa Margarita's football program has been a better two-way threat than Stanton, who has rushed for nearly 1,200 yards and passed for nearly 2,000 yards.
Santa Margarita came away with five interceptions, including two by Connor O'Brien, who has eight this season.
The Eagles played almost flawlessly, making zero turnovers and three penalties. Poly had six turnovers and committed 13 penalties.
Gerard Wicks started the game for Poly with a 46-yard touchdown run for a 6-0 lead. He also had a 15-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, pulling the Jackrabbits within five at 21-16.
But Poly mistakes combined with Santa Margarita's offense did lots of damage.
Ryan Wolpin added touchdown runs of 60 and 10 yards for the Eagles.