Los Angeles Preps: Johnny Stanton

Stanton starting to carve out niche

March, 6, 2012
LOS ANGELES – In recruiting circles, Johnny Stanton from Rancho Santa Margarita Santa Margarita is well-known on the West Coast. As far as reputations go on the national level, the 6-foot-2, 215-pound quarterback from the 2013 class has some work to do.

Nevertheless, Stanton is one of the Southland's most promising prospects around. One need not look any further than his offers from Air Force and Washington for proof. He also recently received varied levels of interest from nearby schools such as UCLA and USC.

“I've been hearing from some teams, but I don't worry about that stuff, my goal is take care of business on the field and things will work out off the field,'' Stanton said.

He made a name for himself this past season with the Eagles. He completed more than 60 percent of his passes for 2,439 yards and 13 touchdowns in the air. Equally effective on the ground, Stanton gained 1,428 yards rushing and found the end zone another 21 times.

If he's able to duplicate that type of production during his senior year, chances are Stanton's name will mentioned in the same sentence as the country's elite signal callers.

“In my 40 years of coaching, I haven't seen many players like Johnny,'' Santa Margarita coach Harry Welch said. “We've had a plenty of scouts at our practices over the course of this season to see him and we're just now starting to hear from colleges from all over the country.

“What people might not know about him is that Johnny also has a very strong academic background, he's a Stanford-type of individual which always looks good in the eyes of college coaches and scouts. Remember, we're talking about a kid who is 6-2 and close to 220 pounds.''

Whether Stanton emerges as a national recruit in the near future still remains to be seen. One thing is certain: He is heading in the right direction. The fact Stanton possesses most of the measurables and stats colleges look for in a quarterback certainly helps his cause.

Sean Ceglinsky covers preps for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.

O.C.: All-region football team

December, 28, 2011
Santa Margarita didn't win the Trinity League title, but the Eagles won something more valuable -- the Southern Section Pac-5 and State Division I Bowl championships. It gave coach Harry Welch his ninth section title and his third state title in six years, remarkably, with three different teams. With Johnny Stanton's leap into the end zone with 16 seconds remaining and the Eagles scoring a 42-37 victory over San Jose Bellarmine, we can put the season to bed. Here's a look at the All-Orange County team.


Jon Hamro, San Clemente -- He couldn't have stepped into a worse situation. Less than three weeks before the start of the season, head coach Eric Patton was relieved of his duties for his alleged involvement in a kickback scheme from a defunct sporting apparel company. With the microscope aimed at the Tritons (12-2), the team had its best season in history and reached the Pac-5 title game, its first championship appearance since 1979. Without great leadership and a deft transition of coaching, the team could of foundered; instead it triumphed.


QB -- Johnny Stanton, Santa Margarita, 6-3, 200, Jr. -- Over the final six weeks of the season, beginning with the season-ending 43-42 loss to Servite (by virtue of an overtime two-point conversion) in the Trinity League finale, Stanton couldn't be stopped. In succession, he faced the two-time defending champion Friars, Bishop Amat, Long Beach Poly, Mission Viejo, San Clemente and San Jose Bellarmine. Other quarterbacks had better numbers than Stanton's 13 TDs and nine interceptions, but Stanton's running ability (1,528 yards, 25 TDs) and leadership was the great equalizer. In five playoff games, he averaged 159 yards passing and threw six TD passes against one interception, and averaged 112 yards rushing with nine touchdowns. With the Division I Bowl championship on the line on fourth and one with 16 seconds remaining, Stanton scored -- the sixth touchdown he had a hand in -- to give his Eagles a 42-37 victory.


RB -- Ryan Wolpin, Santa Margarita, 5-9, 185, Jr. -- Wolpin was a touchdown machine for the Eagles. He scored 28 times, 27 while rushing. He averaged 109.1 yards per game, and 6.6 yards per carry, against a loaded schedule that was among the toughest in the nation.

RB -- Tyler Siudzinski, Tustin, 5-10, 185, Sr. -- Orange County's leading rusher as a junior, Siudzinski didn't match those numbers during his senior season but he did lead Tustin to its first section title since 1948. He rushed for 1,967 yards -- averaging 141 per game and 6.4 per carry -- and scored 21 touchdowns.

WR -- Brett Bartolone, La Habra, 5-10, 180, Sr. -- Bartolone was another one of those playmakers of the highest order. He caught 50 passes for eight touchdowns, and also rushed for 924 yards and nine touchdowns to help the Highlanders reach the Southwest semifinals.

WR -- Cody White, El Toro, 6-2, 175, Jr. -- White's inclusion is in part deference to quarterback Conner Manning, who broke Matt Barkley's single-season county record, with 4,219 yards and 41 touchdowns. Of those, White had 18 TDs among his 85 catches for 1,295 yards.

TE -- Christo Kourtzidis, Orange Lutheran, 6-4, 230, Sr. -- He wasn't the prolific receiver of another great OLu tight end, Blake Ayles, but CK was an outstanding blocker and made plenty of critical catches among his 38 receptions. Averaging 10.9 yards per catch, he has committed to Florida State.

OL -- Max Tuerk, Santa Margarita, 6-6, 254, Sr. -- On a team that started nine underclassmen on offense, the left tackle provided the senior leadership that helped the Eagles win the Pac-5 and State Division I Bowl championships. He committed to USC.

OL -- Kyle Murphy, San Clemente, 6-7, 275, Sr. -- The big left tackle may have played this season as the best player in the country to still be undecided on where he will play college; he is so good he will have his choice. Murphy paved the way for San Clemente (12-2) to average 166 yards passing, 226 rushing .

OL -- Travis Averill, Servite, 6-4, 280, Sr. -- You better be tough to excel in the Trinity League, and Averill is plenty tough; he was a starter on both previous Pac-5 championship teams and helped the Friars win a seventh consecutive league title before suffering its stunning upset loss to Tesoro in the second round.

OL -- Colby Cyburt, Mission Viejo, 6-5, 265, Sr. -- Part of a terrific offensive line that also featured Austin Maass, Cyburt led the way for the Diablos' balanced offense that averaged 202 yards passing and 150 rushing despite several injuries to key skill personnel.

OL -- Lomitusi Sasi, Tustin, 6-3, 300, Sr. -- The Tillers ran the ball 90 percent of the time, but they could do that knowing they had a strong offensive line anchored by Sasi. A two-way starter, he helped the unseeded team close with eight consecutive victories, including an upset of El Toro for the Southwest title.

K -- John McGrory, Santa Margarita, 6-2, 180, Sr. -- McGrory missed only two PATs all season, finally ending a Southern Section record streak of 106 in a row (over two years) in the first round of the playoffs. He was perfect on five field goal attempts, averaged 38 yards per punt and pinned opponents inside the 20 on nine of 24 punts.


DL -- Chris Frost, Santa Margarita, 6-4, 238, Sr. --Paired with Sean Donegan on the opposing end, the Eagles had two huge ends that made it difficult for opposing offenses to find success on the outside. Selected the Trinity League's MVP on defense, Frost had 12 1/2 sacks among his 99 tackles, forced four fumbles and recovered two.

DL -- Kyle Kelley, Woodbridge, 6-3, 215, Sr. -- Arizona commit followed up a junior season in which he had 19 sacks with a senior season in which he had 22 for the Warriors; also forced a fumble and recovered two. Had 18 tackles against Southern Division champion Corona del Mar.

DL -- Chazz Roberts, Tesoro, 6-0, 243, Jr. -- One of the 16 underclassmen who started for the Titans, Roberts recovered a pair of fumbles and led the defense with 8 1/2 sacks as the third-place Titans reached the Pac-5 semifinals with victories over league champions Edison and Servite.

LB -- Butch Pauu, Servite, 5-11, 220, Sr. -- A three-year starter for the two-time Pac-5 champion Friars, Pauu was among the county's most devastating hitters. He also emerged this season as a legit offensive threat receiving the ball. He committed to BYU.

LB -- Ricky Ortiz, Mater Dei, 6-2, 220, Sr. -- A combination of size, speed and strength made Ortiz the Monarchs' defensive playmaker. A three-year starter, he always had to be accounted for, which was easier said than done because he was so active on defense -- and so good.

LB -- Aaron Porter, La Habra, 6-2, 235, Sr. -- All you need to know about Porter is that in a game against Servite he had his way with the Friars. A UCLA commit, Porter had 11 1/2 sacks on his way to setting a school record for tackles, forced five fumbles and intercepted two passes. He also played offense and rushed for 865 yards and 17 TDs.

LB -- Ryan Harris, Mission Viejo, 5-10, 210, Sr. --Another one of the county's big hitters, Harris had 123 tackles, including three sacks, forced four fumbles and recovered two, and also had two interceptions for the Pac-5 semifinalist.

DB -- Connor O'Brien, Santa Margarita, 6-2, 162, Jr. -- Pressure applied up front paid dividends in the defensive backfield as O'Brien led the county with eight interceptions. He was an aggressive safety in on 91 tackles and forced two fumbles. His eight picks and 15 breakups set school records.

DB -- Christian Tober, San Clemente, 5-9, 175, Sr. -- Tober has big-play speed, and would be underutilized on an all-county team if he wasn't also returning kicks; he had a 34.1 average. He had four interceptions, forced two fumbles, and also blocked three field goals. On offense, he caught 23 passes and averaged 26.6 yards per reception.

DB -- Max Redfield, Mission Viejo, 6-3, 195, Jr. -- Redfield has Blue Chip written all over him. An outstanding athlete he has all-county wide receiver potential as well. He had 91 tackles and three interceptions, and already received an offer from USC.

DB -- Anthony Pierce, Mission Viejo, 5-9, 170, Sr. -- Outstanding cover man was chosen South Coast League co-MVP on defense along with teammate Harris. He forced four fumbles and had three interceptions on a defense that allowed 42.5 percent of its points in the fourth quarter -- by which time the game was usually under control.

P -- Sean Wale, La Habra, 6-0, 155, Sr. -- Averaged 45.3 yards, and in his final game against El Toro where field position was played such a crucial role he averaged 50.7. Also kicked eight field goals, including a 52-yarder.
Ryan WolpinAlex Gallardo/For ESPNLA.comRunning back Ryan Wolpin tallied 27 touchdowns and rushed for 1,637 yards in 2011 and returns to a stocked Santa Margarita (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.) offense in 2012.
Santa Margarita (12-2) vs. San Jose Bellarmine Prep (12-1) at Home Depot Center, Friday, 8 p.m.

Santa Margarita is in a CIF State Bowl game for the first time after winning the Southern Section's Pac-5 Division, but coach Harry Welch is in his third; he has won with Canyon Country Canyon in the first Division I Bowl, and San Juan Capistrano St. Margaret's in the first Small Schools Bowl.

No team has played better opponents over the past six weeks than Santa Margarita: St. John Bosco (8-4), Servite (10-2), Bishop Amat (6-5), Long Beach Poly (10-2), Mission Viejo (10-3 and San Clemente (12-2). The only setback in that stretch was to Servite, 42-41, in overtime in the Trinity League finale; at the time, Servite was ranked No. 2 in the state and among the top 25 nationally.

Johnny Stanton (9 TDs, 9 int.) continues to make big plays, even though they may not result in touchdown passes. Stanton makes things happen, and he is averaging 103 yards rushing per game. Servite couldn't stop him, Poly couldn't stop him, Mission Viejo couldn't stop him, and San Clemente couldn't stop him, so it's going to be a tall order for Bellarmine to do something that those school couldn't.

Ryan Wolpin (27 TDs, 116 yards/game) is also effective behind the SMCHS offensive line. Led by USC-bound Max Tuerk (6-6, 296), who is one of two seniors in the starting lineup on offense, the line averages 299 pounds. By contrast, Bellarmine lists only one player bigger than 225 pounds.

The essence of this game boils down to the success of Bellarmine's offense against Santa Margarita's defense.

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1. What can you say about Santa Margarita quarterback Johnny Stanton? over the last five weeks, Servite couldn't stop him, Long Beach Poly couldn't stop him, Mission Viejo couldn't stop him, and San Clemente couldn't stop him. He may not even be the best quarterback in Orange County -- El Toro's Conner Manning certainly looks the part with more than 4,000 yards and 41 touchdowns -- but Stanton is the player of the year in Orange County.

2. Myron Miller has been coaching for 42 years, but Tustin's 35-28 Southwest Division victory Saturday afternoon in an upset of third-seeded El Toro was his first outright championship in seven finals appearances. He tied for one while at Ramona in the San Diego Section, but lost in the final at Costa Mesa and three times at Tustin before riding a physical defense and a ball control offense to victory at Angel Stadium. Edward Tandy's interception for a touchdown was huge, as were a pair of scores by Terence Martinez and Tyler Siudzinski. But you really have to admire Miller's commitment to his team; twice on the final five minutes -- in an effort to keep the ball away from El Toro -- he called on his offense to convert fourth down opportunities inside its own 30. That's faith in your team. Said Miller: "I'm going to do this until I'm 80." After reaching the finals three times in the last four years, it was good to see him win, finally.

3. What a surprise that Santa Margarita was selected to the Division I Bowl Championship. Santa Margarita had two losses, and the feeling outside the heads of the 10 commissioners who chose the Bowl participants was that undefeated Bakersfield would likely get the nod if not Vista Murrieta (undefeated on the field but with five forfeits), that Santa Margarita's loss to Mater Dei in the Trinity League opener would be a killer. It wasn't, even though commissioners haven't always given strength of schedule the credit it's due. It creates one terrific backstory: Eagles' coach Harry Welch has a chance to win his third Bowl game in six years with three different teams. He won with Canyon Country Canyon in 2005 with another two-loss team that upset Concord De La Salle in the Division I Bowl (before they had the Open game), and with San Juan Capistrano St. Margaret's in 2008 in the Small School Bowl. If he succeeds, this is a milestone that likely will never be broken. For what it's worth, Welch has no plans to move on to a fourth team.

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Santa MargaritaAlex Gallardo/ESPNLosAngeles.comCoach Harry Welch celebrates winning the Pac-5 title with his team at Angel Stadium.

ANAHEIM -- For the ninth time in his career, Harry Welch raised a championship trophy over his head. If he could, he would raise Johnny Stanton, too. But Stanton did his own carrying Saturday night at Angel Stadium, carrying the Eagles to the Southern Section Pac-5 title with a 27-13 victory over San Clemente.

Welch has had a lot of these moments -- five with Canyon Country Canyon, three with San Juan Capistrano St. Margaret's -- but when he grabbed the microphone after the game played in front of 14,424, he said "I have never been more proud than I am now."

The last three teams that Santa Margarita (12-2) defeated en route to their first championship since winning back-to-back in 1996-97 had only one loss; third-seeded Long Beach Poly (10-2), second-seeded Mission Viejo (11-2) and San Clemente (12-2).

If Welch loves this team, he'll love next year's too. Only two seniors start on offense, one of them being USC-bound lineman Max Tuerk. But the rest are underclassmen, including Stanton, the dual-threat quarterback who passed for 92 yards and ran for 148. His touchdown pass to River Cracraft with 11 seconds left in the first half gave Santa Margarita a 14-13 lead, and his two-yard score in the third quarter made it 21-13.

Then he engineered the drive of the game, one that covered 89 yards and consumed 9 minutes 56 seconds. It ended with Ryan Wolpin's second score, a three-yard run with 3:09 left in the game. It was at that point that San Clemente got its first possession of the fourth quarter. The Tritons had no more magic in what had been a magical season. Cracraft intercepted a Travis Wilson pass with 1:52 left in the game, and Santa Margarita ran out the clock.

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As backstories go, there are some intriguing ones in the Pac-5 championship game Saturday night at Angel Stadium.

San Clemente (12-1) has a balanced, high-powered offense that has reached the finals for only the second time in its long history with an interim coach.

Santa Margarita (11-2) has a balanced, high-powered offense that has a second-year coach going for his ninth section title.

No matter who wins, there should be plenty of angles. A couple weeks before the season began, San Clemente's longtime coach Eric Patton was removed for his role in an alleged kickback scheme involving a local apparel company. Enter Jon Hamro, the school's athletic director, who found the Triton players rallying together and being of one focus, one purpose.

Apart from one hiccup, a disastrous first half against South Coast League rival Mission Viejo that cost San Clemente a perfect season, the Tritons have been fantastic. They have ripped through playoff opponents like they were JV teams with an average score of 45-15. Utah-bound quarterback Travis Wilson (24 TDs, 7 int., 163 yards/game) can not only pass, but is an outstanding situational runner and has nine rushing touchdowns; at 6 feet 6 and 215 pounds, he's not easy to bring down.

Behind tackle Kyle Murphy and an offensive line that is among the best in the state, the Tritons also have a tough ground attack led by Mike Elespuru (14 TDs, 118 yards/game), and a big-play threat in receiver Christian Tober, who scored three touchdowns last week -- one a kickoff return -- on plays of 70 yards or more.

They, along with a defense led by linebackers Herbert Gamboa, Chad Foster, Landon Cook and Nico Ruberti, will try to bring San Clemente its first championship; they lost in their only other appearance in 1979.

San Clemente hasn't faced a league champion or seeded team in its playoff run. After beating second-place Lakewood, the Tritons defeated third-place teams St. John Bosco and Tesoro. But in Santa Margarita, the Tritons will be facing a second-place team that played even with top-seeded Servite before losing in overtime, 42-41, in the Trinity League finale and has since scored playoff victories over Bishop Amat, third-seeded Long Beach Poly and second-seeded Mission Viejo, 21-20.

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MISSION VIEJO -- With the game over and Santa Margarita ready to go through its post game drill, Johnny Stanton yelled over to Coach Harry Welch.

Welch turned.

Stanton held his hands at his waist and gave two thumbs up.


Stanton's magical season continued Friday as he guided the Eagles 70 yards and a one-yard touchdown with 1:02 remaining to beat second-seeded Mission Viejo, 21-20, before a sold-out stadium that seemed to live and die with every play.

In the end, it was Mission Viejo (10-3) that died, the end coming at its 37-yard line with two incomplete passes following Ian Dewert's sack of Alex Bridgford.

Santa Margarita (11-2), in its second season under Welch, is headed to the finals against San Clemente, a 51-16 winner over Tesoro in a clash of second- and third-place teams from the South Coast League. The championship will be played Saturday at Angel Stadium.

Welch, whose team finished second in the Trinity League to Servite, said reaching the Pac-5 finals in his second season meant a lot to him after winning five section championships at Canyon Country Canyon and three with St. Margaret's.

Stanton finished the game rushing 24 times for 115 yards and Ryan Wolpin carried 15 for 157, including touchdowns of one and 51 yards. The latter gave the Eagles a 14-7 lead early in the third quarter.

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Pac-5: Santa Margarita 49, L.B. Poly 16

November, 25, 2011

LONG BEACH -- Johnny Stanton did just about whatever he pleased on Friday night. The 6-foot-3 and 200-pound junior quarterback from Santa Margarita threw the ball well and picked up plenty of yards on the ground. And there was not much Long Beach Poly could do about it.

In the end, the Eagles prevailed with a 49-16 victory. But not before Stanton completed 11-of-17 passes for 105 yards. Can't forget to mention he gained 125 yards rushing and scored four times in a Southern Section Pac-5 Division quarterfinal game at Veterans Memorial Stadium.

“I don't feel like I had a target on my back, or anything. I knew that Long Beach Poly was prepared,'' Stanton said. “I felt pretty good overall. I mean, I'm sure I'll be sore in the morning. But it will be worth it. To come in here and get a victory like this gives us a lot of momentum.''

The Eagles (10-2) entered the showdown No. 10 in the ESPNLosAngeles.com rankings. Long Beach Poly (10-2, on the other hand, was ranked No. 4 in the most recent poll.

Stanton got stronger as the game went on. That was most evident at the start of the fourth quarter. He carried the ball multiple times and ended up scoring from five yards out on fourth down to increase the advantage to 28-16 with 11:50 remaining.

Santa Margarita did not let up. Ryan Wolpin scored two rushing touchdowns, a 60-yarder and a 10-yarder. Alex Suchesk added an eight-yard run for the final margin.

“Johnny was great, he carried us tonight, he had a heck of a game,'' Wolpin said. “He's our guy. He made a lot of critical plays at the biggest moments of this game.''

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L.A. South: Games of the week

November, 24, 2011
Here are Friday night’s top second-round playoff games in south Los Angeles County (with ESPN Los Angeles prep football Top 25 rankings):

Pac-5: No. 10 Santa Margarita (9-2) vs. No. 4 Long Beach Poly (10-1) at Veterans Stadium, 7 p.m. — The Jackrabbits' defense, which on average has allowed under 14 points per game, will have the difficult task of slowing down explosive Eagles quarterback Johnny Stanton. That's something not even mighty Servite was able to do a few weeks ago. Poly's Richard Smith, Josiah Blandin and Gerard Wicks will be counted on to keep pace.

Pac-5: No. 12 San Clemente (10-1) at No. 15 St. John Bosco (8-3), 7:30 p.m. — Some teams would deem making the playoffs a year after missing out a success. But the St. John Bosco Braves, the third-place representatives of the Trinity League, aren't content. They shocked a lot of people by beating Serra League champion Alemany on the road last week, and now set their sights on taking another step toward a possible rematch with Servite in the semifinals.

City Division I: Crenshaw (6-4) at No. 14 San Pedro (11-0), 7 p.m. — At the end of Friday night's game, either the two-time defending City Section champion Crenshaw Cougars will have been eliminated or the top-seeded San Pedro Pirates will have been knocked off. Given Crenshaw's apparent rebuilding year, we'll go with the former. Besides, San Pedro quarterback Kenny Potter is playing as well as anybody in the city.

Western: No. 22 Ventura (11-0) vs. Santa Monica (10-1) at Santa Monica College, 7:30 p.m. — Now that top-seeded Gardena Serra is out, falling victim to a shocking upset in the first round, the four top-bracket teams (these two included) will scramble to gain control this weekend. Ventura has surrendered fewer than nine points per game, and tailback Conner Armstrong has the offense clicking.

Blair Angulo covers preps for ESPN Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter.

O.C.: The Top 10

November, 13, 2011
Cody Pittman's pass to Ainslie Johnson for a two-point conversion in overtime gave Servite a 43-42 victory over Santa Margarita in one of the season's great games. Despite the loss, Santa Margarita certainly justified its move up to No. 2 last week.

1. (1) Servite (9-1)
Friars got a two-point conversion in overtime to extend Trinity League winning streak to 19 games and polish off a seventh consecutive league title behind behind Cody Pittman, who rushed for 100 yards and passed for 239. Next: vs. Long Beach Wilson at Cerritos College, Friday, 7:30 p.m.

2. (2) Santa Margarita (8-2)
Johnny Stanton gave Servite all it could handle; he rushed for 133 yards and passed for 275 in a losing effort. Last: lost to Servite, 43-42, in overtime. Next: vs. Bishop Amat at Saddleback College, Friday, 7 p.m.

3. (3) Mission Viejo (8-2)
Diablos put the finishing touches on their third consecutive South Coast League title as six different players scored and the first-team defense didn't allow a score. Last: beat Trabuco Hills 42-7. Next: vs. Long Beach Cabrillo, Friday, 7:30 p.m.

4. (4) San Clemente (9-1)
Tritons, after losing the league title to Mission Viejo, had two weeks to get ready for Tesoro, then played like they made the most of their practice time. Last: beat Tesoro, 31-6. Next: vs. Lakewood, Friday, 7:30 p.m.

5. (5) Orange Lutheran (6-4)
Lancers have victories over La Habra and Mater Dei, but they couldn't keep pace with Bosco's explosive offense though trailing by a touchdown going into the fourth quarter. Last: lost to St. John Bosco, 48-28. Next: Season concluded.

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Servite footballAlex Gallardo for ESPNLosAngeles.comServite quarterback Cody Pittman (12) rushes the ball during Friday's game against Santa Margarita.

CERRITOS -- No guts, no glory.

Down by one point in overtime, Servite quarterback Cody Pittman rolled to his right, made his reads, and hit Ainslie Johnson in the end zone for a two-point conversion.

It was the only thing that separated top-ranked Servite from Santa Margarita, the No. 6 team in the ESPNLA Top 25, in a 43-42 victory at Cerritos College on Friday night.

"I didn't want to face their offense again," said Servite coach Troy Thomas, whose team came into the game ranked No. 2 in the state and didn't like the prospect of trying to stop the Eagles again.

When Servite (9-1, 5-0) begins its quest for a third consecutive Southern Section Pac-5 title next week, the Friars will be the top-seeded team. Santa Margarita will be the second-place team from the league, and No. 18 St. John Bosco, by virtue of its 48-28 win over Orange Lutheran, will be the third-place team.

It was the 19th consecutive Trinity League victory for Servite, which won outright its seventh consecutive league title -- all since the arrival of Thomas.

Pittman rushed 18 times for 100 yards, and also completed 20 of 23 passes for 239 yards and two touchdowns.

Pittman was complemented by Mana Pauu, who rushed for three touchdowns, of 10, 3 and 3 yards. He carried 16 times for 62 yards.

Pittman's performance overshadowed an extraordinary effort by Santa Margarita's Johnny Stanton who rushed for three touchdowns and passed for another, a screen that went for 60 yards to Ryan Wolpin. Wolpin also scored on runs of one and five yards.

Stanton completed 19 of 27 passes for 274 yards, and he also rushed 25 times for 133 yards. He scored from seven yards with 1:50 left in the game to tie the contest at 35-35.

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No. 6 S. Marg. 28, No. 16 S.J. Bosco 20

November, 4, 2011

MISSION VIEJO -- The night was special for Johnny Stanton in more ways than one.

The Santa Margarita junior quarterback rushed for 173 yards and two touchdowns in a 28-20 victory Friday night against St. John Bosco, helping the Eagles take over sole possession of second place in the Trinity League heading into next week’s showdown against first-place Servite.

Along the way at Saddleback College, Stanton established school records for single-game and season rushing yards by a quarterback. Stanton now has 845 rushing yards this season, bettering the previous mark of 801 set by Michael Angelo in 2003.

Stanton did most of his damage on quarterback draws, taking advantage of huge holes opened by his massive offensive line, led by USC-bound tackle Max Tuerk. His 43-yard touchdown run on a draw late in the third quarter gave the Eagles a 21-13 lead.

“We weren’t expecting it to work that well,” Stanton said. “But, when a play works that well, you’ve just got to keep going to it.”

Santa Margarita coach Harry Welch says he thinks the play deserves another name.

“When you have Johnny Stanton, it’s different,” he said. “It’s not a quarterback draw. It’s Johnny Stanton up the middle.”

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MISSION VIEJO -- Do or die. If that wasn't the case when Santa Margarita faced Orange Lutheran on Friday, it's the case now for OLu.

Santa Margarita's 31-10 Trinity League victory at Saddleback College put the Lancers behind the 8-ball even though they came into the game ranked No. 17 in the Southland by ESPNLA. Last week, before losing to top-ranked Servite, they were No. 8.

That didn't matter to Johnny Stanton, who passed for one touchdown to close out the first half and ran for two touchdowns, both in the last five minutes of the game, to lead sixth-ranked Santa Margarita (6-1, 1-1) past the Lancers (5-2, 0-2).

Santa Margarita, ranked No. 2 last week before its stunning 21-14 defeat at the hands of Mater Dei, came into this contest and handled it like it was a playoff game. Coach Harry Welch said he didn't refer to it as a playoff game this week in practice, "but we did say we couldn't be in the playoffs if we didn't win this one."

If it wasn't a playoff game, it was a playoff caliber game.

Welch called Stanton "the engine that pulled us through" as Stanton rushed 13 times for 96 yards and completed nine of 14 passes for 139 yards.

"This game was really crucial," Stanton said. "We knew we were going to have to play a really tough OLu team this game, so we had to step it up in practice. We were all really focused."

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Johnny StantonMartin Henderson for ESPNLA.comSanta Margarita quarterback Johnny Stanton combined for 301 total yards through the air and on the ground in the victory over Los Alamitos on Thursday.

LONG BEACH -- A week ago, when Los Alamitos was beating L.A. University by 56 points, coach John Barnes said he didn't really know how good his team was. The Griffins, ranked No. 25 this week by ESPNLA, hadn't played anyone who could mount a significant challenge, a team that could really test their mettle, a team that had the respect of the football community.

On Thursday, in the fifth game of the season, the Griffins finally faced that team.

And they learned they have some work to do.

Johnny Stanton rushed for 147 yards and passed for 154, and Ryan Wolpin rushed for 214 as second-ranked Santa Margarita scored a 38-27 victory over Los Alamitos in the last nonleague game for both teams. Each begins league play in two weeks, with Los Alamitos playing its primary rival in the Sunset League, Edison; Santa Margarita plays against Mater Dei in the Trinity League opener.

Kicker John McGrory had a record-setting night, breaking the Southern Section record for most consecutive point-after touchdowns. McGrory kicked five, giving him 85 in a row.

Los Alamitos showed far more spark than it did in last year's 31-7 loss to Santa Margarita, which was one of the most listless performances ever by a team coached by Barnes. The Griffins were fighting until the end and did manage to make the game reasonably close.

Still, after a quick start, Los Alamitos was overmatched as Santa Margarita's sustained drives took a toll. The Griffins made it close in the fourth quarter when they scored two touchdowns in a 53-second span after scoring only two TDs in the first 43 minutes.

Santa Margarita held a 38-14 lead with 8:50 left after Wolpin scored from one yard, capping a 26-yard drive instigated by Reid Andrew's interception.

Stanton rushed for three touchdowns, including a 52-yarder on a draw, and Wolpin scored twice in a night in which he carried 33 times for 214 yards.

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ESPNLA prep football Top 25: Week 4

September, 26, 2011
In arguably the biggest week of the season in terms of matchups, there were major shifts in the latest ESPN Los Angeles prep football Top 25 rankings, including a couple of newcomers and a few who dropped out. In all, there were six matchups involving top 25 teams and seven teams from the list who lost. Here are our rankings heading into Week 4:

1. Servite (4-0)
All the Friars do is keep winning, making it 30 in a row over teams from the Southland, including a victory last week over the last team from this region to hand them a loss -- Edison in 2009. Last week: beat Edison, 27-14. Next: at Bishop Gorman, Fri., 7 p.m.

2. Santa Margarita (4-0)
Junior QB Johnny Stanton shows his value with his arm and his legs by surpassing 100 yards in both passing and rushing, including three TDs on the ground in a rout of a good Carson team. Last week: beat Carson, 39-21. Next: vs. Los Alamitos at Veterans Stadium, Thu., 7:30 p.m.

3. Mission Viejo (3-1)
Prep football Twitter wars? Well, not exactly, but the Diablos responded to Snoop Dogg's disparaging tweets during the week in the best way any team can, by being able to point to the scoreboard.
Last week: beat Long Beach Poly, 17-12. Next: at Carson, Fri., 7:30 p.m.

4. Crespi (4-0)
The Celts take advantage of all the week's power matchups by doing what they're supposed to do: overpower an overmatched opponent to jump up three spots in the rankings. Last week: beat Palisades, 40-0. Next: vs. Vista Murrieta, Fri., 7 p.m.

5. Oaks Christian (2-1)
The night the lights went out in ... Westlake Village? The Lions take the early lead in the Marmonte League race after a contentious victory over the league's other private school power. Last week: beat St. Bonaventure, 36-24. Next: vs. Calabasas, Fri., 7 p.m.

6. St. Bonaventure (2-1)
The Seraphs had all the momentum when a power outage at Oaks Christian stalled the game in the fourth quarter for nearly 25 minutes. In the end, Bonny dug too deep a hole. Last week: lost to Oaks Christian, 36-24. Next: vs. Simi Valley at Ventura HS, Fri., 7 p.m.

7. Corona Centennial (2-1)
We know on the surface it seems unfair for the Huskies to have dropped a spot after a one-sided win, but we couldn't in good conscience rank them ahead of a team -- St. Bonaventure -- they already had lost to. At least not yet. Last week: beat Chaparral, 49-14. Next: vs. Riverside Poly at Riverside Ramona HS, Thu., 7 p.m.

8. Long Beach Poly (3-1)
If it wasn't clear already, the defense is going to keep the Jackrabbits in every game this season. But the offense will need to catch up if a sustained postseason run is in order. Last week: lost to Mission Viejo, 17-12. Next: at Compton, Fri., 7 p.m.

9. Alemany (3-1)
So was the loss to J.W. North an aberration? The Warriors answer in a most definitive way with an impressive display against a strong Chaminade team behind Steven Mitchell's two touchdown catches.
Last week: beat Chaminade, 38-14. Next: vs. Dorsey, Fri., 7 p.m.

10. Bishop Amat (3-1)
It was the Jalen Moore show for the second week in a row. A week after rushing for 303 yards, the senior gets 191 and two touchdowns to lift the Lancers to a big second half. Last week: beat Damien, 28-7. Next: vs. Cathedral, Fri., 7 p.m.

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