Trinity League football preview: What to expect this season (2022)

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The top players and season outlook for all six teams in the Trinity League:

TRINITY LEAGUE

JSERRA

Top players: David Tuliau, OL/DL, Sr.; Zander Singh, QB, Jr.; Josh Jornadal, WR, Sr.; Kainoa Tausaga Davis, OL/DL, Jr.; Jake Flores, RT, So.

What to expect: The Lions, coming off consecutive 0-5 finishes in the Trinity League, look improved. They’ve developed several linemen and appeared more confident during a strong run in the Battle at the Beach passing tournament. Second-year coach Scott McKnight is high on several linemen who are mentored by line coach Pat Harlow, one of the best in Orange County. Two-way lineman David Tuliau (6-1, 273) could lead the group after earning first-team all-league honors in 2021. The squad also features an excellent tight end in senior Jose Frutos. Junior quarterback Zander Singh showed composure in taking the Lions to the semifinals of the Battle at the Beach in early July. He connected well with receivers such as Josh Jornadal and sophomore Logan Christensen. One area that needs improvement is defense. The Lions allowed 40 points a game last season. JSerra also needs production from its running back “committee.”

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MATER DEI

Top players: Elijah Brown, QB, Jr.; Leviticus Su’a, LB, Sr.; DeAndre Carter, OL, Jr.; Brandon Baker, OL, Jr.; Ajon Bryant, RB, Jr.

What to expect: The defending Trinity League champion Monarchs again appear on a collision course with St. John Bosco for league and CIF-SS Division 1 titles. The Braves and Monarchs are first-second in the national preseason rankings by MaxPreps. The Monarchs’ strengths on offense start with quarterback Elijah Brown, who passed for 2,581 yards and 30 TDs last season. The junior continued to excel as an on-field leader for the Monarchs, who claimed a state title and went 12-0 despite controversy from an alleged hazing incident. Brown will be supported by a stellar offensive line anchored by touted juniors DeAndre Carter (6-5, 335) and Brandon Baker (6-5, 290). Mater Dei’s attack will also feature the new-look running back duo of Ajon Bryant and Jordon Davison, who combine speed and power. The team is inexperienced at wide receiver but has a strong junior in Jack Ressler (33 catches in 2021). The Monarchs’ biggest questions will be on defense. The unit is led by senior All-CIF linebacker Leviticus Su’a but overall it is young. Juniors Aydin Breland, a defensive tackle, and Zabien Brown, a cornerback, are two other key defenders. The defense recently lost junior linebacker Tanner Williams to a season-ending knee injury, putting more focus on the Monarchs’ playmaking on defense.

Trinity League football preview: What to expect this season (8)

ORANGE LUTHERAN

Top players: Gabe Morin, LB/RB, Sr.; TJ Lateef, QB, So.; Nathan Hale, LT, Sr.; Kaleb Marshall, WR, Sr.; Jireh Moe, DL, So.

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What to expect: The reigning CIF-SS Division 2 champion Lancers are retooling after their breakthrough season but still look strong. Second-year coach Rod Sherman believes the defense, which struggled at times last season, could be the team’s strength with a blend of returners and newcomers. All-league linebacker Gabe Morin (140 tackles in 2021) is back to anchor the unit and has positional support from sophomore JoJo Edwards and highly-regarded freshman Talanoa Ili. The defensive line has been boosted by the transfer of impressive sophomore Jireh Moe from Nevada while the secondary welcomes back a healthy Keon Washington (knee injury) at cornerback. The questions start at quarterback as the Lancers look to replace prolific Logan Gonzalez. TJ Lateef is competing with fellow sophomore John Gazzaniga among others. Orange Lutheran also has questions at running back. Morin and Mission Viejo transfer Deuce Frierson could be part of the answer for an offense that has three returning starters on the line.

Trinity League football preview: What to expect this season (9)

SANTA MARGARITA

Top players: Jaxon Potter, QB, Sr.; Emmett Mosley, WR/DB, Jr.; Niko Lopez, WR, Sr.; Donovan Comestro, CB, Sr.; Jalani Liva, OL, Sr.

What to expect: The Eagles are poised to take the next step under third-year coach Anthony Rouzier after reaching the Division 1 playoffs last season. They return several key players and have added some impact transfers. Santa Margarita’s offense should be potent with the return of quarterback Jaxon Potter, who passed for 2,869 yards and 23 TDs last season. The senior recently committed to Alabama at Birmingham. Potter also returns his top receiver in Niko Lopez, a recent Colorado State commit who hauled in 65 receptions for 693 yards last season. Santa Margarita added speedy receiver Emmett Mosley, a junior transfer from Servite. Mosley’s brother, Trent, is a freshman receiver to watch. Santa Margarita’s offense also returns top running back Jake Foye (646 yards last season) and an experienced lineman in Jalani Liva. The questions are on the defensive front. Fairmont Prep transfer Collins Acheampong, a Michigan commit, is an edge rusher to watch but hasn’t played in high school since his freshman year. Junior LeVar Talley and sophomore Tyler Parker are two others to watch along the front.

Trinity League football preview: What to expect this season (10)

SERVITE

Top players: Kitione Talavou, DE, Sr.; Ethan Scaffidi, WR, Sr.; Oskar Madrigal, OL/DL, Sr.; Connor Panapa, DL, Sr.; Quiad Carr, RB, So.

What to expect: The Friars are rebuilding after their run last season to the Division 1 finals, which was highlighted by upsetting St. John Bosco in the semifinals. The Friars not only graduated several key players, including quarterback Noah Fifita, wide receiver Tetairoa McMillan and lineman Mason Graham, they lost some strong players to transfers. But Servite prides itself on its brotherhood and competed well in summer passing. Senior Julian Puche appears set to take over the quarterback position and has quick wide receivers in Ethan Scaffidi and Quinn Rosenkranz. Coach Troy Thomas also is high on sophomore running back Quiad Carr. The Friars’ top returners on defense are senior end Kitione Talavou and Scaffidi at cornerback.

ST. JOHN BOSCO

Top players: Pierce Clarkson, QB, Sr.; Matayo Uiagalelei, DE/TE, Sr.; Deandre Moore Jr., WR/DB, Sr.; Vaka Hansen, OL/DL, Sr.; Aaron Williams, CB, Sr.

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What to expect: The Braves again look like a major threat to the Monarchs’ title aspirations in the Trinity and Division 1. They return Louisville-committed quarterback Pierce Clarkson and have added several key transfers, including Los Alamitos wide receiver Deandre Moore Jr. The arrival of Los Alamitos transfer brothers Vaka and Hoi Hansen and Corona Centennial cornerback Aaron Williams are significant. The healthy return of Kyngstonn Viliamu-Asa at linebacker also boosts the Braves’ defense.

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