1. There’s no telling whether or not Corbin Andersonwould have made much of a difference in Mater Dei’s 42-21 loss to Mission Viejo in the Pac-5 semifinals, but the Monarchs’ leading rusher might have come in handy when his team got inside the three-yard line and had two downs to make two yards. Instead, Freddie Mora and Max Wittek came up inches short. Mater Dei scored later in the half, but a 21-7 lead would have inspired much more confidence to stave off the eventual implosion. Instead, Mission Viejo tied the score in the final minute of the first half and scored on three of its first four possessions of the second half. The reason for Anderson’s absence in the game? “It’s a school issue,” was the official comment from coach Bruce Rollinson. Talk about a letdown.
2. Two weeks in a row and the handshake routine has not gone well with Mission Viejo. Santa Margarita coach Harry Welch described the postgame meeting with Bob Johnson as “a token grunt” after Mission’s 31-28 victory. This past weekend offensive coordinator Bret Johnson apparently was unimpressed with the quality of handshake he was getting from Mater Dei coaches. Might that long pass from Alex Bridgford to Frank Randall, albeit incomplete, along the sidelines on second-and-eight at the Mater Dei 29 -- with one minute remaining and a 42-21 lead -- have something to do with it? It drew boos from the Mater Dei fans. It probably didn’t sit well with the coaches, either. One theory for the big-play attempt: Centennial beat Mater Dei by 31 points (44-13) and Mission was trying to get as close to that margin as possible so that it’s not a compelling argument when state commissioners select the Southern Section Open Bowl participant; however, the argument breaks down when you realize Centennial led 44-0 at one point.
3. It was universally agreed in the press box Saturday that if Alemany quarterback Vernon Adamsplayed in the OC, he would be the all-county quarterback. Adams was reminiscent of last year’s player of the year, Servite’s Cody Fajardo, except he had sidestep moves that made him more dangerous. “I like him a lot now that the game’s over,” Servite coach and defensive coordinator Troy Thomas said. “He’s a special guy. He’s done that against everybody for two years.” The elusive Adams passed for 278 yards and ran 22 times for 140 yards. Defense is Servite’s calling card, and some of the Friars looked gassed afterward. It’s a credit that they sacked him twice for 15 yards, by linebackerConnor Einck and lineman Jody Thomas.
4. Props go out to Sonora, which showed how much it had improved since losing to La Habra in a Freeway League game, 42-13, on Oct. 22. The Raiders actually led in the fourth quarter, 22-21, before giving up a pair of touchdowns down the stretch -- one of them Mike Sparling’s interception return for a touchdown with just over a minute left in the game. Sonora suffered two losses to La Habra, one to Fullerton, 20-16. Although the two frontrunners for Orange County coach of the year appear to be Anthony White of Buena Park and Welch of Santa Margarita, might Sonora’s Paul Chiotti deserve a serious look? The Raiders (10-3) certainly had a season to remember. They were 7-0 for the first time since 1975, beat second-seeded and previously undefeated Laguna Hills, and then made three-time defending section champion La Habra (9-3) play for all it was worth. Since 2001, when the Raiders were 6-4-1, the team has never been anything but 3-7 or 5-5.
5. After winning four consecutive Southern Section championships, St. Margaret’s bid for five in a row finally came to an end. The fourth-seeded Tartans (9-4) were beaten by Paraclete (12-1), the top-seeded team in the East Valley Division, 38-21, at Antelope Valley College. The last time the Tartans lost a playoff game was Dec. 2, 2005. Trailing 23-0, St. Margaret’s battled to within 31-21 going into the fourth quarter. “We dug ourselves too big of a hole,” first year coach Rod Baltau told the Orange County Register. That happens sometimes. But it was a great run for the program.