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Tuesday, December 6, 2011
O.C.: Five things from the weekend

1. You can't say that Conner Manning's performance against La Habra in which he finally eclipsed Matt Barkley's county single-season passing record came cheap. Manning completed 32 of 49 passes for 465 yards and two touchdowns as El Toro upset second-seeded La Habra, 47-41, in the Southwest Division semifinal. Manning needed 88 yards to match Barkley's 3,560 set in his junior season in 2007. Manning, a junior, now has 3,946 and leads the Chargers into the finals for the first time since 1995 when they defeated Servite for the Division V championship. Manning wasn't the only offense: Jacob Furnari carried 36 times for 231 yards and four touchdowns. Cody White and Blake Murphy both had nine receptions, for 109 and 103 yards, respectively.

2. Kudos to La Habra for going out like a champion. Trying to win its fifth consecutive title,a first for an Orange County team, the Highlanders set a standard for other teams in the division and gained considerable respect among higher division teams for playing opponents such as Servite, Orange Lutheran and St. John Bosco. Trailing 41-13 with 1:07 left in the third quarter, La Habra pulled to 47-41 behind Aaron Porter's three touchdowns; had it recovered its third consecutive onside kick with 3:31 left in the game (the ball went out of bounds) it might have been a different outcome. Instead, Manning had possession and El Toro ran out the clock -- and ended La Habra's drive for five.

3. Reporters at Santa Margarita's 21-20 victory over Mission Viejo in the Pac-5 semifinal began discussing the Orange County player of the year. Although Servite's Cody Pittman and Santa Margarita's Johnny Stanton appeared to be frontrunners early in the season (Pittman losing in the second round almost certainly destroyed his chances) and there has been talk that a lineman such as San Clemente's Kyle Murphy might be a deserving choice, El Toro's Manning was bandied about after his big night against La Habra.

4. The biggest surprise  from Friday's games was the margin of victory by San Clemente over Tesoro, 51-16. Coming off a victory over top-seeded Servite, a week after the greatest victory in the program's history, the Titans lost by five touchdowns. When they played San Clemente in the South Coast League finale, they were beaten 31-6, but that was six days after an agonizing 14-7 loss to Mission Viejo that Tesoro gave away. Either it reflects poorly on Tesoro  for not being able to rise to the occasion and offer a challenge, or it speaks volumes about just how good San Clemente is right now. Either way, that score was stunning. Christian Tober gets a lot of credit for the outcome; he scored three long touchdown that put the Titans behind the 8-ball: an 80-yard reception from Travis Wilson in the first quarter, a 73-yard reception in the second, and a 75-yard kickoff return in the third .

5. If the margin of victory in the San Clemente-Tesoro game was the most surprising thing that happened during the semifinals, running a close second was Tustin using its passing game to beat Foothill in the final two minutes. Quinnton Roberson connected with Michael Lilly from 40 yards with 52 seconds remaining and the Tillers scored a 21-20 victory in the 50th meeting with their longtime rival. Two plays earlier, they connected for a 23-yard gain. On the season, Tustin has completed 36 of 71 passes and Roberson 30 of 61 for four TDs. Against Foothill, he completed three of four passes for 91 yards.