Editor’s note: Michael Huntley will be writing a weekly column for OCVarsity on the “under the radar” players, teams, rivalries, uniforms, school bands — basically anything to do with the Orange County high school football scene. If you have suggestions for topics, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Under the Radar Report will be published online each Wednesday during the football season.
Under the Radar offensive player to watch in Week 4: Savanna’s Shamonte Rogers
Savanna junior running back Shamonte Rogers had a career-game in the Rebels’ 35-16 win against Santa Clara in Week 3. Rogers rushed for 251 yards on nine carries for an average of 27.8 yards per carry, with three touchdowns.
Rogers was expected to be a big part of the Savanna offense as a sophomore last season, but he broke his hand early in the season and had to play with a cast.
“This year he knows he’s the guy. When he gets fired up, he is pretty unstoppable,” Savanna coach Tom Ricci said. “He has had to work up to the increased workload because he is a two-way player and leads our team in tackles and sacks (on defense).”
Savanna plays Lynwood on Thursday. Lynwood is coming off a bye week, but before that lost to Long Beach Jordan 47-7. Lynwood allowed four rushing touchdowns against Jordan.
Thursday is the final nonleague game for the Rebels, who will contend for second place in the Orange League, largely due to the production of Rogers.
“He’s really progressing quickly on the field,” Ricci said. “Over the next two years, he is definitely going to break some school records.”
Under the Radar defensive player to watch in Week 4: Valencia’s Michael Garcia
Valencia cruised to a 31-3 win over crosstown rival El Dorado in Week 3 to win “The Bell” back after a tough one-point loss to the Golden Hawks in 2017.
The Tigers’ offense came to play against El Dorado, but the Valencia defense has been among the best in the county all season and has kept Valencia in the Register’s Top 25 every week.
A major part of the Tigers’ defensive success is defensive back Michael Garcia.
“He is a big part of what we believe could be a very tough defensive unit,” Valencia coach Jason Gray said. “We have a good amount of experience on defense. We should be ready to go.”
Valencia has eight returning starters on defense from last year’s team, which was the co-champions of the Empire League.
Garcia had two interceptions against El Dorado, including one he returned 64 yards for a touchdown. He recovered three fumbles as a junior in 2017, but had no interceptions. Garcia already has three interceptions this season.
Valencia plays Sante Fe on Thursday night. Santa Fe is 0-4 and coming off a 63-7 loss to San Marino. Sante Fe threw six interceptions in its Week 0 loss to Fullerton, so there could be a couple of interception opportunities for Garcia.
Under the Radar Game of the Week: Estancia vs. Ocean View
The game between Estancia and Ocean View on Friday is the only matchup this week between two undefeated teams in Orange County.
Estancia has already topped its win total from 2017 and is off to its first 3-0 start since Mike Bargas became the Eagles head coach. The Eagles gave Loara its only loss of the season in Week 1, avenging a 20-point loss to the Saxons in 2017.
“I think the team has gelled a little bit sooner than we have in the past, despite the early start,” Bargas said. “Half the group returned so they’re a little more battle tested. Every week we seem to improve.”
Estancia running back Trevor Pacheco is among the county’s leading rushers and is averaging 234.7 yards per game this season with six touchdowns.
Ocean View has outscored its first three opponents 155-21. The blowout wins have made it difficult for returning quarterback Noah Hickman to work his way up the county leaderboard.
“Hickman has been highly efficient and has showed his ability to use his feet as a big weapon,” Ocean View coach Luis Nunez said.
Hickman and the team’s top receiver, Will Earthman, a transfer from Edison, connected five times for 124 yards and a pair of touchdowns in last week’s blowout win against Calvary Chapel.
“He (Earthman) is a legitimate threat to score every time he touches the ball,” Nunez said. “He has added a dimension offensively that we haven’t had at Ocean View in the last seven years.”
Estancia should earn a guaranteed playoff spot in the Orange Coast League and is ranked No. 8 in CIF-SS Division 13.
Ocean View is a member of the new Pac 4 League and should compete with Western for the league championship. The Seahawks are ranked No. 4 in Division 11.
Ocean View should win Friday, but if it’s not prepared, Estancia has the experience and running game to slow the pace and make the game competitive. The Seahawks may be undefeated when they play Western on October 25 for a potential Pac 4 league championship.
Under the Radar storyline: When I attend games, records are broken
When I attend a Thursday night football game, an offensive player breaks a school record. I’m not suggesting that these players know that I am in attendance and make an extra effort to impress me, but I’m not disputing it either.
In Week 2, Edison receiver Cole Koffler set a school record for receiving yards in a game with 265 in a blowout win against Canyon.
In Week 3, Esperanza quarterback Nate Nadeau broke a 21-year record for passing yards in a game with 436 in a loss to Loara.
What do these performances have in common? I was there to witness them.
Each week, OCVarsity fans eagerly wait for me to announce which game I will attend every Thursday because they know if I am there, a player will shatter an old record.
Unfortunately for Orange County football fans, I will not be attending any football games this Thursday, which means that no records will likely be broken.
But it’s not fun to say that Thursday will be just another average night of high school football. Record-breaking performances give poorly-attended, low-energy Thursday games some excitement and meaning.
So I predict that the streak of broken records will continue in my absence Thursday.
Watch for Sunny Hills to break the school record for all-purpose yards in a game against Kennedy on Thursday. The Lancers set a school record for all-purpose yards in a game on Aug. 30 against Irvine with 630. Sunny Hills had 545 all-purpose yards in a 38-35 win against Brea Olinda in Week 3.
No pressure Lancers. All you have to do is live up to the totally reasonable standards I just set.
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