2021 EAGLES

Game 2 - Norco

SMCHS Eagles (1-0)
Norco Cougars (1-0)

at Norco High School Field (Norco, California)
Thursday, August 26, 2021 - 7:00 p.m.
Original PDF

Last Game Recap & Highlights Vs. San Juan Hills

After five years of waiting, Santa Margarita Catholic returned to its traditional home field, Saddleback College (SC) Stadium, to open the Fall 2021 football season. The facility, which underwent a major renovation, took much longer than expected to complete. During that time, the Eagles were forced to play elsewhere for several seasons, primarily at Trabuco Hills High School in Mission Viejo. The stadium has been the de facto home for SMC from the launch of the program in 1988. But it was worth the wait as it is truly a world-class sports venue for athletes and spectators.

A crowd estimated at 5,500 strong turned out to see the Eagles host neighboring San Juan Hills (San Juan Capistrano). Coach Rouzier’s men came out fiery and tenacious, on offense and defense, as they put 35 points on the scoreboard, including 28 in the second quarter to take a commanding lead by halftime over the Stallions. This proved to be more than enough in the 38-14 victory.

Offensively, the Eagles were led by junior quarterback Jaxon Potter who tallied 294-yards -- the second-most ever for an Eagle quarterback in his debut. Perhaps the biggest surprise came from the running back position. Junior Jake Foye proved to be a workhorse as he gained 181 yards on 21 attempts (8.6 average). In all, SMC gained 497-yards of total offense. The Eagles defense was also in the spotlight as they were able to keep the Stallion’s three highly-touted receivers in check, allowing them a total of just seven receptions for 74 yards. San Juan’s quarterback faced pressure all night from the SMC rush and threw three interceptions.

  • Special Teams Player of the Week: Romen Christensen
  • Offensive Player of the Week: Jake Foye
  • Defensive Player of the Week: Blake Wilson
SANTA MARGARITA PLAYERS TO WATCH

Nicholas “Niko” Lopez
#0 | Tight End | Junior | 6-4, 210

  • Achieved new career-highs in pass receptions (9) and yards receiving (96) in season-opening win versus San Juan Hills
  • Ranked No. 63 by Orange County Register of Hot-150 Top Impact Players for Fall 2021
  • Los Angeles Times Potential Breakout Star in the Southland for Fall 2021
  • A significant contributor in the Eagles’ championship run at the 7-on-7 “Battle at the Beach” Passing Tournament competition at Edison (Huntington Beach) in July. Named event Most Valuable Player by PrepRedzone.com
  • Spring 2021 All-Trinity League Second-Team - Offense
  • Had 14 receptions for 164 yards (11.7 average) and two touchdowns in Spring 2021 season
  • Called-up to varsity for the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 playoff game at Sierra Canyon in 2019 and had one catch for 11 yards
  • A member of the Eagles basketball program who is described as having sound basketball instincts that transfer to the football field, especially when going after and securing the ball

Jaxon Potter
#5 | Quarterback | Junior | 6-3, 170

  • Threw for the second-most passing yards ever by an SMC quarterback in debut game in season-opening win versus San Juan Hills -- 294-yards. Connected for three touchdown passes
  • Cal-Hi Sports Fall 2021 Preseason All-State Second-Team - Offense (QB)
  • Ranked No. 22 by Orange County Register of Hot-150 Top Impact Players for Fall 2021
  • Ranked No. 5 quarterback in Orange County for Fall 2021 by the Orange County Register
  • Cal-Hi Sports 2021 Preseason Hot 100 - No. 71 in state for Class of 2023
  • Demonstrated poise and confidence in helping lead the Eagles to the championship of the 7-on-7 “Battle at the Beach” Passing Tournament at Edison (Huntington Beach) in July
Most Passing Yards in First Career Game at SMCHS - All-Time
Quarterback Yards Opponent Date Class
Peter Costelli 325 Downey 08/16/18 Sophomore
Jaxon Potter 294 San Juan Hills 08/20/21 Junior
K.J. Costello 243 @ Bishop Amat 08/30/13 Sophomore
Josiah Norwood 243 @ Downey 08/25/17 Senior
Ryan World 222 @ Mater Dei 10/19/07 Junior

 

Syncere Brackett
#6 | Linebacker | Sophomore | 6-3, 230

  • Cal-Hi Sports Fall 2021 Preseason All-State Second-Team - Offense (LB)
  • Ranked No. 48 overall prospect in the state by PrepRedzone.com for Class of 2024
  • Saw significant game action as a freshman during the Spring 2021 season when he registered 11 total tackles

Nick Gallegos
#7 | Wide Receive/Defensive Back | Senior | 5-11, 175

  • Hauled-in 6 receptions for 106-yards (17.7 average) in season-opening win against San Juan Hills. Also scored one touchdown. This included his longest reception -- 52-yards
  • Recognized as an outstanding player at the 7-on-7 “Battle at the Beach” Passing Tournament at Edison (Huntington Beach) in July by PrepRedzone.com

Ben Durham
#9 | Defensive Back | Junior | 5-11, 195

  • Spring 2021 Letterman
  • Listed on PrepRedzone.com’s “Watch List” of state prospects for Class of 2023

Ryan Zolnick
#10 | DE/LB | Senior | 6-1, 215

  • Ranked No. 85 by Orange County Register of Hot-150 Top Impact Players for Fall 2021
  • Spring 2021 All-Trinity League First-Team - Defense
  • Registered 17 total tackles and two sacks in spring 2021 season

Levar Talley
#11 | Defensive Line | Sophomore | 6-3, 205

  • Spring 2021 Letterman
  • Listed on PrepRedzone.com’s “Watch List” of state prospects for Class of 2024

Gage Grant
#12 | Quarterback/Strong Safety | Athlete | Senior | 6-0| 180

  • Ranked No. 132 by Orange County Register of Hot-150 Top Impact Players for Fall 2021
  • Recognized as an outstanding player at the 7-on-7 “Battle at the Beach” Passing Tournament at Edison (Huntington Beach) in July by PrepRedzone.com
  • Spring 2019 Empire League Co-Defensive Player of the Year at Tustin High School - Strong Safety
  • Saw significant action at quarterback and strong safety for the Tillers who finished in a three-way tie for the Empire League title with Pacifica (Garden Grove) and Cypress
  • As a QB, completed 63.8% of pass attempts and threw 10 touchdowns. Rushed for three touchdowns and added one receiving
  • Connected for four touchdown passes in each of the final two games of spring 2021 season for the Tillers versus Kennedy (La Palma) and Valencia (Placentia)

Donovan Comestro
#13 | Defensive Back | Junior | 6-0, 160

  • Collected one interception in win over San Juan Hills in season-opener
  • Spring 2021 All-Trinity League Second-Team - Defense
  • Notched 16 total tackles (4 for loss), a half sack, one interception, three pass defenses and forced two fumbles in Spring 2021

Jalen Jones
#18 | Wide Receiver | Senior | 5-10, 180

  • Ranked No. 58 by Orange County Register of Hot-150 Top Impact Players for Fall 2021
  • Listed on PrepRedzone.com’s “Watch List” of state prospects for the Class of 2022
  • Spring 2021 All-Trinity League Second-Team - Offense
  • Caught 15 passes for 195 yards (13.0 average) and two touchdowns in Spring 2021
  • Has received offers from Valparaiso and Davidson
  • A speed-burner, has run 10.9 in the 100-meters
  • A member of the Eagles track team, participating in the 100, 200 and 4x100 meter relay

Ian Grogan
#19 | Wide Receiver | Senior | 6-0, 185

  • Rushed four times while appearing at running back in Spring 2021, scoring two touchdowns. Also added one receiving
  • 2019 All-Trinity League Second-Team - Offense
  • Team leader with 511 receiving yards (21.3 average) in 2019 with two touchdowns
  • Notched career highs with five receptions along with 113 yards receiving in loss at Cherry Creek in 2019

Romen Christensen - #24 | Linebacker/Punter | Senior | 5-10, 180

  • Selected Special Teams Player of the Week vs. San Juan Hills - 08/20/21
  • Led the team with 9 total tackles in season-opening win against San Juan Hills

Blake Wilson - #34 | Defensive Back | Junior | 5-11 , 170

  • Selected Defensive Player of the Week vs. San Juan Hills - 08/20/21
  • Registered 2 interceptions in win over San Juan Hills in season-opener -- first two of his career
  • Spring 2021 All-Trinity League Second-Team - Defense
  • Second on team in Spring 2021 in total tackles with 32
  • Handles the team’s kick-off duties

Jake Foye
#42 | Running Back | Junior | 5-10, 190

  • Selected Offensive Player of the Week vs. San Juan Hills - 08/20/21
  • Rushed for a career-high 181-yards on 21 attempts (8.6 average) in season-opening win against San Juan Hills. Also scored one touchdown

Hero Kanu
#45 | Defensive Tackle | Senior | 6-5, 300

  • A Top-100 national and Top-10 California 5-star prospect currently with 24 offers from Division 1 Power Five conference schools. On July 9, officially narrowed down to ten: Alabama, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Clemson, LSU, Oklahoma, USC, Georgia, Washington and Texas
  • Ranked No. 1 Top Prospect for Class of 2022 by Europe’s Elite / europeselite.com
  • Ranked No. 1 Prep Prospect from Germany for Class of 2021 / 2022 by Europe’s Elite / europeselite.com
  • MaxPreps.com Fall 2021 Preseason All-State Team - Defense (DL)
  • Ranked No. 6 by yahoo.com Sports in Top 25 Class of 2022 High School Players from California
  • Cal-Hi Sports Fall 2021 Preseason All-State First-Team - Defense (DL)
  • Cal-Hi Sports Fall 2021 Preseason All-Orange County First-Team - Defense (DL)
  • scorebooklive.com Fall 2021 Preseason All-State Football Team - Defense (DL)
  • SI.com All-American Watch List - Top Interior Defensive Linemen - “Notable”
  • Ranked No. 10 by Orange County Register of Hot-150 Top Impact Players for Fall 2021
  • Ranked No. 1 defensive lineman in Orange County for Fall 2021 by the Orange County Register
  • Los Angeles Times Top 10 Defensive Linemen to Watch in Fall 2021
  • Los Angeles Times Prep Rally: “Big Men to Watch” in Fall 2021
  • MaxPreps.com compares to Kanu to Cameron Hayward of the Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Ranked No. 8 overall prospect in the state by MaxPreps.com
  • Ranked No. 1 prospect in the state and No. 7 in the nation at defensive tackle by MaxPreps.com
  • Ranked No. 9 overall prospect in the state and No. 1 at defensive tackle by PrepRedzone.com for Class of 2022
  • Cal-Hi Sports Fall 2021 Preseason Hot 100 - No. 11 overall in state for Class of 2022
  • Orange County Register’s - “Juniors Who Will Reign in the Fall of 2021”
  • 2022 All-American Bowl game invitee (San Antonio) -- January 8, 2022: Will announce college selection
  • Spring 2021 All-Trinity First-Team League - Defense
  • Ranked No. 8 defensive lineman in the state after Spring 2021 season by scorebooklive.com
  • scorebooklive.com Spring 2021 All-State Football Team (DL)
  • Cal-Hi Sports Spring 2021 All-State Second-Team - Defense (DL)
  • Cal-Hi Sports Spring 2021 All-State First-Team - Defense - Junior Team (DL)
  • MaxPreps.com Spring 2021 All-State Second-Team - Defense (DL)
  • Los Angeles Times Spring 2021 All-Star High School First-Team - Defense (DL)
  • Class of 2022 “Stock Risers” selection by PrepRedzone.com
  • Cal-Hi Sports Winter 2021 Class of 2022 Top-100 recruit

Jalani Liva
#62 | Offensive Line | Junior | 6-4, 320

  • Recognized as a “Lineman on the Rise” in Orange County for Fall 2021 by the Orange County Register
  • Spring 2021 Letterman
  • Ranked the No. 87 overall prospect in the state by PrepRedzone.com for Class of 2023 and Outstanding Newcomer

Kilian O’Connor
#67 | Offensive Line | Senior | 6-2 , 285

  • Has received an offer from Columbia
  • Cal-Hi Sports Fall 2021 Preseason All-State Second-Team - Offense (OL)
  • Ranked No. 5 offensive lineman in Orange County for Fall 2021 by PrepRedzone.com
  • Ranked No. 61 by Orange County Register of Hot-150 Top Impact Players for Fall 2021
  • Ranked No. 6 offensive lineman in Orange County for Fall 2021 by the Orange County Register
  • Listed on PrepRedzone.com’s “Watch List” of state prospects for the Class of 2022
  • Spring 2021 All-Trinity League Second-Team - Offense
  • Cal-Hi Sports Winter 2021 No. 63 state prospect for Class of 2022
  • Cal-Hi Sports Summer 2020 No. 59 state prospect for Class of 2022
  • 2019 All-Trinity League First-Team - Offense
Saddleback College Stadium - Home Of The Eagles

The new Saddleback College sports complex in Mission Viejo is once again the home for the Santa Margarita Catholic Eagles varsity football team. The brand-new complex features 8,000 seats, a nine-lane running track, two turf football practice fields, a turf soccer field, thrower’s park, concession stand, viewing platform with views of field and practice fields, private event rooms, storage for football, soccer and track and field equipment, modern press box, athletic team meeting rooms, state-of-the-art scoreboard, sound system with integrated Wi-Fi technologies, and full ADA compliance. The $55 million project meets the requirements to host NCAA and USA Track and Field meets. The venue is under consideration to be a practice facility for the upcoming 2028 Summer Olympics in nearby Los Angeles. The Eagles are no strangers to the stadium, as they have played more games there than any other venue and was their primary home for more than two decades.

Eagles All-Time @ Saddleback College
As home team: 144 games - 99-43-2 (.694)
As road team: 6 games - 4-2-0 (.667)
Overall: 150 games - 103-45-2  (.693)

Eagles Current Media Rankings

Orange County Register - Orange County: 5
MaxPreps.com - State: 17 | Southern Section: 12 | Orange County: 5
CalPreps.com - State: 16 | Southern Section: 11 | Orange County: 5
PrepRedzone.com - Orange County: 5

THIS WEEK’S OPPONENT: Norco

SMCHS Season Game No. 2 / Non-League Game No. 2
Game Date: Thursday, August 26, 2021 @ Norco High School, 7:00 p.m.
School Location: Norco, California
Nickname: Cougars
Head Coach: Chuck Chastain (51-25 -- .671)
2021 Fall Record: 1-0
Last Week: Won @ Vista Murrieta (Murrieta), 42-26
2021 Spring Season: 5-0 Overall / 5-0 Big VIII League Champion
2019 Season: 8-3 Overall | 4-1 Big VIII (2nd) | 0-1 CIF-Southern Section Division 2 Playoffs
All-Time Series: 2 Games - Santa Margarita Catholic Leads 2-0-0
Last Game / SMCHS Win: 2001 -- Santa Margarita Catholic won 41-22 @ Saddleback College
Players to Watch:

  • Kyle Crum | Quarterback | Senior
  • Jacob Rosendahl | Running Back | Senior
  • Grant Gray | Wide Receiver | Junior
  • Elijah Rodriguez | Wide Receiver | Senior
  • G.J. Delatorre | Defensive End | Senior

In Brief: The Cougars finished the Spring season ranked high atop several polls with their 5-0 record and huge victory over vaunted rival Centennial (Corona). Coach Chastain and company will try to carry that success and momentum into this fall season. Norco has quite a bit of experience with eight starters returning on defense and nine on offense. Quarterback Kyle Crum has the passing game under control and the running game will be strengthened with the return of senior Jaydn Ott (transfer back from Bishop Gorman - Las Vegas) who put up massive numbers as a freshman with the Cougars.

NEXT WEEK’S OPPONENT: St. Augustine

SMCHS Season Game No. 3 / Non-League Game No. 3
Game Date: Friday, September 3, 2021 @ Saddleback College, 7:00 p.m.
School Location: San Diego, California
Nickname: Saints
Head Coach: Joe Kremer (20-10, .667) - 4th Season
2021 Fall Record: 0-1
Last Week: Lost @ El Camino (Oceanside), 21-13
2021 Spring Season: 2-2 Overall | 1-2 Western League
2019 Season: 8-3 Overall | 3-1 Western League (Tie-1st) | 2-1 CIF-SD Section - Open Division (2nd)
All-Time Series: 2 Games - Santa Margarita Catholic Leads 2-0-0
Last Game / SMCHS Win: -- Santa Margarita Catholic won 27-7 @ St. Augustine
Players to Watch:

  • Ayo Shotomide | Senior | Wide Receiver / Cornerback
  • Justin Stearns | Senior | Outside Linebacker / Tight End
  • Dominic Gross | Senior | Cornerback / Wide Receiver
  • Gracen Halton | Senior | Defensive End / Tight End
  • Luke Bolin | Senior | Offensive Tackle
  • Adan Luna | Senior | Offensive Tackle

In Brief: The Saints’ 2-2 mark in the spring ended a streak of 20-straight winning seasons. But expect Joe Kremer’s crew to return to its winning ways this fall. The defense will be blitz-heavy and pressuring, as usual. Gracen Halton, an Oregon commit, makes quarterbacks uncomfortable. Linebacker Justin Stearns is a San Jose State commit. The offense will shift to an RPO (run-pass option) look with Kremer wanting to pass more. Junior offensive tackle Misa Sandoval goes 6-6, 330 and will be a solid protector of quarterback Kyle Herburger who boasts a big arm. Isiah Pressley will do the bulk of the heavy work on the ground. He is the half-brother of former Saints great Elijah Preston, one of the San Diego Section’s top all-time rushers.

HEAD COACH Anthony Rouzier

Anthony Rouzier begins his second season as the Head Varsity Coach at Santa Margarita Catholic High School. Prior to taking the reigns of the program in the spring of 2021, Rouzier coached at SMC for three seasons, first serving as the linebacker coach and then as the Eagles’ defensive coordinator. The path to Head Coach started on August 27, 2020 when Rouzier was named on an interim basis. He replaced Tim Walsh after his resignation from the position to focus on a medical issue. On February 5, 2021, Rouzier was named fulltime Head Coach by school President Andy Sulick.

Rouzier played collegiately at the University of Connecticut in 2005. There he was the first true freshman walk-on to start in the Division-era of the school. He then transferred to the University of Massachusetts as a scholarship athlete and was a member of two Colonial Athletic Conference championships teams. In the classroom, Rouzier earned All-Academic All-Conference honors in 2007 and 2008.

After his collegiate playing days, in 2014, Rouzier coached at Amherst Regional High School (Massachusetts) where he started as the linebacker coach and was promoted to Defensive Coordinator mid-season. Rouzier then proceeded to coach the outside linebackers at Winston-Salem State University (North Carolina) in the spring of 2015. Shortly after that, he returned as a graduate assistant at his Alma Mater, the University of Massachusetts. There he worked with the defensive backs in 2015 and linebackers in 2016.

Rouzier then found his way to Europe to coach with the Hamburg Huskies of the German Football League. There, in 2017, he was the interim Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator. For his success, Rouzier was promoted to and accepted the Head Coaching position. Rouzier was also the Defensive Coordinator for the Under-17 Hamburg State All-Star team and worked with a recruiting service that helped European prospects earn Division 1 college scholarships in the United States. One of the other German coaches was current SMC assistant coach Sean Embree. It was Embree who convinced Rouzier that coaching at SMC would be worth his while and he soon found his way to South Orange County.

Born and raised in Massachusetts, Rouzier married his wife Elwira, who he met in Germany in 2018. He holds Juris Doctor and Master’s of Business Administration degrees from Florida International University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts. He is the co-creator of a children’s book and non-profit organization that promotes health and wellness.

 

Compiled and edited by Chuck Nan. Game and historical statistics by Shane Mielke