2021 EAGLES

Game 5 - Los Alamitos

SMCHS Eagles (3-1)
Los Alamitos Griffins (1-1)

at Saddleback JC (Mission Viejo, California)
Saturday, September 11, 2021 - 7:00 p.m.
Original PDF

Last Game Recap & Highlights Vs. Nolan Catholic

The Eagles made a short trip north to Los Angeles County to the field of their league rival, St. John Bosco. There they squared-off versus Nolan Catholic (Ft. Worth, Texas) at the “Trinity League vs. The USA Football Showcase.” The Vikings came into the game ranked in Texas and had a reputation as a respectable program that has enjoyed success. However, this was not their day at all, falling, 31-13 in a game that wasn’t even that close. SMC led 31-0 going into the fourth quarter and allowed the Vikings two inconsequential scores.

Quarterback Jaxon Potter threw for 311 yards and three touchdowns and also rushed for a score to pace the Eagles to their third win in four tries. He completed 29-of-43 passes (67.4%) and set new season-high marks for passing yards (311), attempts (43), completions (29) and tied for touchdowns (3). Potter connected with fellow junior Niko Lopez, Jalen Jones and Sam Caspino scores. Lopez now has a touchdown reception in all four games this season. Receiver Nick Gallegos finished with six catches for 47 yards. Justin Rivera led the rushing attack with 55 yards.

As good as Santa Margarita’s offense was, the defense was even mightier. It held Nolan to just 35 yards passing, notched 10 tackles-for-loss, forced one fumble and registered five quarterback sacks. The Eagles received sacks from Hero Kanu, LeVar Talley, Noah Sulick, Romen Christensen and Israel Solomon. Blake Wilson handled the kicking duties with perfection, hitting all four PATs and booting a 42-yard field goal in the first half.

It can be said that this was easily the best overall performance by the Eagles this season and the signature win of Coach Anthony Rouzier’s early stint at the helm.

The Eagles are now 4-5 all-time versus out-of-state opponents. They had lost five in succession in that category. Prior to this, SMC had never won against an out-of-state opponent in games played in California -- at home or on a neutral field. Overall, their last victory was in 2012 at Brophy Prep (Phoenix, Arizona) in the only nationally televised game in school history (ESPN).

Weekly Awards

  • Special Teams Player of the Week: Blake Wilson
  • Offensive Player of the Week: Eagles Defensive Line
  • Defensive Player of the Week: Eagles Offensive Line

Most Current Poll Rankings
MaxPreps.com - State: 18 / Southern Section: 14
calpreps.com - State: 18 / Southern Section: 14
calhisports.com - State: 22
yahoo.com / Los Angeles Times - Southland: 8
Orange County Register - 5 (As of 09/07)
Dan Albano (ocvarsity.com) - 6 (As of 09/07)
High School Football America - State: 19 (As of 09/07)

SANTA MARGARITA PLAYERS TO WATCH

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

  • Completed 29-of-43 passes (67.4%) and set new season-high marks for passing yards (311), attempts (43), completions (29) and tied for touchdowns (3) in resounding win over Nolan Catholic. Also rushed for one score
  • Recognized by PrepRedzone.com for one of the Top Passing Performances for Weeks 0 and 2
  • 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
  • Ranked the No. 82 overall prospect in the state by PrepRedzone.com for Class of 2023
  • 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
         

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

  • Tallied a receiving touchdown for the fourth-straight game in win over Nolan Catholic
  • Tied career-high in receptions with nine versus St. Augustine, including a touchdown
  • Tallied a team-high six receptions and scored one touchdown in loss @ Norco
  • Recognized by PrepRedzone.com for one of the Top Receiving Performances for Weeks 0 and 2
  • Achieved new career-highs in pass receptions (9) and yards receiving (96) in season-opening win versus San Juan Hills
  • Ranked the No. 178 overall prospect in the state by PrepRedzone.com for Class of 2023
  • 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

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

  • Led team with 94 yards receiving in loss @ Norco
  • Named to OCVarsity.com Orange County “Bonus List of Top Contenders & Overlooked Players”
  • 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

  • Registered a team-high 12 tackles (tied with teammate Donovan Comestro) in loss @ Norco
  • 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

  • Registered a team-high 1 1/2 sacks in win over St. Augustine
  • 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

  • Had one quarterback sack in win over Nolan Catholic
  • Named No. 4 “Defensive Riser” for Class of 2024 selection by PrepRedzone.com fro California
  • Spring 2021 Letterman
  • Ranked No. 84 overall prospect in the state by PrepRedzone.com 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 quarterback, 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

  • Had one quarterback sack in win over Nolan Catholic
  • Registered a team-high 12 tackles (tied with teammate Ben Durham) in loss @ Norco
  • 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

  • Receiving touchdown versus Nolan Catholic was his fourth of the season
  • 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

  • Had one quarterback sack in win over Nolan Catholic
  • Selected Team 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

  • Connected for a successful 42-yard field goal in a win against Nolan Catholic.
  • Successfully kicked 4 kickoffs into the endzone and was Special Teams Player of the week against Nolan Catholic
  • Connected for a successful 46-yard field goal in loss @ Norco
  • Recognized by PrepRedzone.com as one of the Top Defensive Performances for Week 0
  • Selected Team 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

  • Named to OCVarsity.com Orange County “Bonus List of Top Contenders & Overlooked Players”
  • Selected Team 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.

Noah Sulick
#43 | Linebacker | Sophomore | 5-10, 180

  • Enjoyed the best game of his young career against Nolan Catholic: four tackles, three tackles-for-loss and one-and-a-half QB sacks

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
  • Registered first full quarterback sack of the season in victory over Nolan Catholic
  • Television / Web feature interview on Bally’s Sports West / SoCal Prep Zone: From Germany to So Cal High School Football
  • Web feature interview on Spectrum News 1: Santa Margarita Eagles Build New Culture Centered on Diversity, Family
  • scorebooklive.com Fall 2021 State Defensive Player of the Year nominee
  • Recognized by PrepRedzone.com for one of the Top Defensive Performances for Week 2
  • Led team with three tackles-for-loss in win over St. Augustine (Also notched 1/2 sack)
  • Featured in four 247Sports.com online highlight videos in 2021
  • 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 USA Today High School Sports in Top 25 Class of 2022 High School Players from California
  • 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 Team - Defense (DL)
  • scorebooklive.com Fall 2021 Preseason All-CIF - Southern Section 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 San Antonio Sports All-Star Football Game invitee -- 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 for California
  • Cal-Hi Sports Winter 2021 Class of 2022 Top-100 recruit

Taurian Nash
#47 | Running Back | Freshman

  • Gained 68 yards rushing and scored his first-career touchdown on a 46 yard romp in win over St. Augustine

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. 124 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

Kyle Brody
#88 | Tight End | Sophomore | 6-4 , 230

  • Ranked No. 84 overall prospect in the state by PrepRedzone.com for Class of 2024
THIS WEEK’S OPPONENT: Los Alamitos

SMCHS Season Game No. 5 / Non-League Game No. 5
Game Day / Date: Friday, September 17, 2021 @ Saddleback College (Mission Viejo), 7:00 p.m.
School Location: Los Alamitos
Nickname: Griffins
Head Coach: Ray Fenton (39-17-1, .693) -- 6th Season
2021 Fall Record: 4-0
Last Week: Won @ Buchanan (Clovis), 34-31
2021 Spring Season: 6-0 Overall | 5-0 Sunset League (1st)
2019 Season: 4-7 Overall | 3-2 Sunset League (3rd) | 0-1 CIF-SS Division 3 Playoffs
All-Time Series: Series Tied 3-3. Last Game / SMCHS Win: 38-27 in 2011 @ Veterans Memorial Stadium (Long Beach)
Players to Watch:

  • Malachi Nelson | Junior | Quarterback
  • Makai Lemon | Junior | Wide Receiver / Defensive Back
  • Deandre Moore, Jr. | Junior | Wide Receiver / Cornerback
  • Nygel Osborne | Junior | Running Back
  • Cash Koepke | Senior | Offensive Tackle
  • Sinn Brennan | Junior | Tight End / Defensive End
  • Connor Mclachlan | Sophomore | Place Kicker
  • Brian Jurado | Senior | Strong Safety / Running Back
  • Alec Wills | Senior | Wide Receiver / Defensive Back
  • David Main | Senior | Offensive Tackle / Linebacker / Defensive End
  • Adam Tomczyk | Senior | Defensive Lineman
  • Gavin Porch | Junior | Running Back / Wide Receiver / Cornerback
  • Josiah Murray | Senior | Running Back

In Brief: The reigning Sunset League champion Griffins may be even stronger this fall than the spring squad that was a perfect 6-0 and outscore their league opponents by an average of 34-points. The incredible tandem of quarterback Malachi Nelson and receiver Makai Lemon may be the best in the state or even the nation. Both are juniors and have committed to Oklahoma. They ignited an offense that averaged 51 points a game during the spring. In May of this year, Gatorade announced Nelson as its 2020-21 “California Football Player of the
Year.” Nelson joins recent award winners from the Southern Section (all Trinity League): Bryce Young (2019-20, Mater Dei), D.J. Uiagalelei (2018-19, St. John Bosco) and J.T. Daniels (2017-18 & 2016-17, Mater Dei), among the state’s list of former award winners. All five starting offensive linemen return, including co-Sunset League “Offensive Lineman of the Year” Cash Koepke and all-league tackle David Main. Los Als’ defense has three players who had at least three sacks in the spring. That includes Sinn Brennan (six sacks) -- a 6-5 junior who doubles as a tight end. Adam Tomczyk leads the defensive line, while all-league linebacker Brian Jurado returns, as well. Observers say that with this talent, Los Al might have the best public school team in the Orange County. Talented transfers include junior Deandre Moore, Jr., a standout receiver and defensive back who grew up in the Los Alamitos area and has transferred back in from Nevada. Running back Nygel Osborne and cornerback Kevin Overstreet came in from nearby St. John Bosco and Jordan Ginnis came from Saguaro High School in Arizona.

NEXT WEEK’S OPPONENT: JSERRA CATHOLIC (AFTER BYE WEEK)

SMCHS Season Game No. 6 / Trinity League Game No. 1
Game Day / Date: Friday, October 1, 2021 @ JSerra Catholic Stadium, 7:00 p.m.
School Location: San Juan Capistrano
Nickname: Lions
Head Coach: Scott McKnight (1-2, .333) -- 1st Season
2021 Fall Record: 1-2
Last Week: Lost vs. Centennial (Corona), 48-0
2021 Spring Season: 0-5 Overall | 0-5 Trinity League (6th)
2019 Season: 6-5 Overall | 2-3 Trinity League (4th) | 0-1 CIF-SS Division 1 Playoffs
All-Time Series: SMC Leads Series 9-6. Last Game / SMCHS Win: 42-0 in Spring 2021 @ Santa Ana Bowl (SMC Home)
Players to Watch:

  • Chase Barry | Senior | Punter / Kicker
  • David Tuliau | Junior | Defensive Lineman
  • Zach Pua | Senior | Fullback / Middle Linebacker
  • Luke Berry | Senior | Linebacker / Defensive End
  • Justin Joiner-Greer | Junior | Offensive Lineman / Defensive Lineman
  • Dylan Mills | Sophomore | Quarterback

In Brief: The Spring 2021 season saw JSerra Catholic field a squad that was an extremely young and mostly inexperienced group. The Lions now turn to longtime assistant Scott McKnight as the new Head Coach who is tasked with guiding the stable of young talent and rebuilding the foundation of a contender. McKnight has been an assistant coach for 10 seasons and has a tremendous reputation when it comes to special teams. McKnight has also coached at Tesoro (Los Flores) and Mater Dei (Santa Ana). The reins of the offense fall to sophomore quarterback Dylan Mills, who eventually took control of the starting job during his freshman season. Mills is said to have the ability to extend plays with his feet and throws a great deep ball. Perhaps the most talented player the Lions have is punter / kicker Chase Barry. One outlet has ranks the 6-5, 215-pound senior as the No. 5 punter in the nation for the class of 2022. He is categorized as a “big-time punting prospect.” Barry averages 45-plus yards per punt, with 4.5-plus (seconds) hang time. The reigning Trinity League “Punter of the Year” has offers from all three service academies: Army-West Point, Navy and Air Force. Despite facing some struggles, the new CIF-SS Playoff division system could give the Lions the opportunity to play in a lower division as an at-large team, primarily due to its strength of schedule in the mighty Trinity League. The Lions will start non-seniors at many key positions.

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