Undefeated Lions Ready for Trinity League Play

be6404108c3778d8b644b0aa63d4c34cBy Martin Henderson, Patch.com

Lions unleash a focused defensive effort, and the offense is steady in an impressive victory.

JSerra had never been ranked in the Orange County Top 10 andplayed another ranked opponent—until Friday.

And with all eyes on the seventh-ranked Lions and fifth-ranked Trabuco Hills, JSerra didn’t wilt under the spotlight.

The Lions remained unbeaten in impressive fashion, but more importantly, beat a team that was supposed to be more physical and could match their big-play offense.  Ultimately, JSerra didn’t have any big plays. But behind the effort of quarterback Nick Robinson, running back Casey Eugenio, and a defense that was dialed in, the Lions made plenty of little plays to emerge with the biggest nonleague victory in the program’s history.

Another important aspect: If Trabuco Hills—expected to finish second to Mission Viejo in the South Coast League—does make the playoffs, JSerra will have a feather in its cap should it be vying for a wild card berth. And if Trabuco is the team JSerra is competing against for a wild card berth, the Lions will have the head-to-head advantage.

Score: JSerra 37, Trabuco Hills 15

Key Stats: Casey Eugenio rushed 27 times for 122 yards and a touchdown, and Nick Robinson completed 14 of 20 passes for 164 yards and two touchdowns for JSerra.

Pivotal Moment: JSerra had gotten inside the 10-yard line but was forced to kick a field goal for a 17-7 lead in the third quarter. On its next possession, again with first down inside the 10, a penalty moved the Lions back to the 20. Robinson connected with Dante Pettis for a 17-yard gain, and the next play D.J. Bailey scored to go up 23-7. It was a three possession lead and the Lions had clearly survived any momentum shift from Trabuco’s late score in the first half.

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For game highlights, click here.

Big Plays Provide Power for JSerra in Win Over Dolphins

IMG_9931By Steve Breazeale, Dana Point Times

The JSerra football team may not have had possession for very long against Dana Hills but when they did, they made it count.

In a nonleague game filled with fumbles and penalties, the Lions were able to produce enough big plays to come away with a 28-12 victory on September 27 at Saddleback College.

On JSerra’s (4-0) first play from scrimmage, senior quarterback Nick Robinson connected with senior receiver Dante Pettis for an 80-yard touchdown pass, igniting the large homecoming crowd in attendance. It took 14 seconds for the Lions to get on the board.

The Dolphins (1-4) would answer with a drive that ate up five minutes of the clock, but not without a little help. After being forced to punt, JSerra fumbled the return and the Dolphins recovered, giving them prime field position. Facing a fourth-and-one during the ensuing drive at the Lions five-yard line, Dana Hills quarterback Mac Vail dove ahead and got the yardage the team needed. Senior running back Justin Scott would finish it off with a four-yard touchdown run. A blocked point after kept the Lions up 7-6.

The Lions would fumble again four minutes later, but the Dolphins could not capitalize.

After both teams were hindered by multiple penalties to close out the half, bringing the game speed down to a crawl, JSerra junior senior back Casey Eugenio broke for a 52-yard touchdown run in the third quarter that saw him bob, weave and avoid his way to the end zone. The Lions lead never came into doubt from then on.

Junior defensive end Mitchell Deamon returned a Dolphins fumble 42 yards for a score and Robinson would toss a 25-yard touchdown pass to Ricky Zak to close out the scoring for JSerra.

The Lions will travel to play Trabuco Hills on October 4. Dana Hills will host Irvine the same day.

“We did enough to win the game as far as points are concerned. We hung in there defensively enough to keep them from winning the game but we have to improve between now and next week if we’re going to beat Trabuco Hills,” JSerra head coach Jim Hartigan said. “A week ago we had a decent amount of penalties too so we have to clean that up.”

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Unbeaten JSerra Dominates Buena Park

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Dante Pettis

JSerra’s football team believes this is the year its program will have a breakthrough and become a playoff contender in the Trinity League.

The Lions looked like that kind of team at times against Buena Park in a nonleague game on Friday night at Saddleback College, but at other times their sloppy play and penalties allowed the Coyotes to fight their way back into the game.

JSerra running back Casey Eugenio exploded for TD runs of 4, 14 and 40 yards in a 2-minute, 12-second span in the third quarter to bury Buena Park, 52-13. The entire fourth quarter was played with a running clock.

“We’re fighting to be one of the best in the (Trinity) League and all of Orange County,” said Eugenio, who finished with 178 yards and four touchdowns on 19 carries.

JSerra, which cracked the county top 10 at No. 9 this week for the first time in school history, looked like a playoff contender when Eugenio scored on a 29-yard run on the Lions first drive of the game.

Dante Pettis blocked a punt and scored on a 3-yard return and then caught a 33-yard touchdown pass from Nick Robinson to make it 21-0 with 4:01 left in the opening quarter.

The Lions slowed down in the second, and the Coyotes seized the opportunity to get back into the game with touchdown runs of 2 and 1 yards by county rushing leader Deven Boston to close the gap to 21-13 at the half.

But JSerra’s defense put the clamps on Boston for most of the game, holding him to 57 yards on 13 carries, and Eugenio’s third-quarter eruption finished the Coyotes.

“I think we’re going to be one of the top (teams in the Trinity League),” Eugenio said. “Everyone doubts us and stuff, but I think we’ll be one of the top.”

Lions coach Jim Hartigan said his team has some things to shore up before league play like the 10 penalties for 105 yards against Buena Park.

“We can’t get used to that in the Trinity League,” Hartigan said. “We won’t be able to turn it back on in the Trinity League. We have to make sure that we can maintain these leads and make sure that we play solid on defense, stay consistent and there’s some things we need to talk about.

“We have to clean up our penalties and keep drives alive. You’re not going to be able to play catch-up in the Trinity, so we have some things to clean up in the next couple of weeks.”

For more on the Lions visit JSerra Football on Facebook.

JSerra Opens Season With Rare Shutout

Ethan Aguayo leaps for a touchdown catch as Samuel Liaga of Centennial of Las Vegas tries to block during the second quarter of the Brothers in Arms Classic football game at Mission Viejo High.
Ethan Aguayo leaps for a touchdown catch as Samuel Liaga of Centennial of Las Vegas tries to block during the second quarter of the Brothers in Arms Classic football game at Mission Viejo High.

By Antonio Morales, OC Varsity

JSerra coach Jim Hartigan said that, on paper, this might be the best team he’s had since he began coaching the Lions.

On Saturday afternoon, they looked pretty good on the field, too.

JSerra dominated Centennial of Nevada in its nonleague season opener, 44-0, at Mission Viejo.

The Lions’ defense stood out with seven sacks and it held Bulldogs running back Lantz Worthington to 36 yards rushing.

“I thought we had good pressure, and I thought we covered, for the most part, pretty well,” Hartigan said. “We were prepared for a lot of pass, so we tried to give a bunch of looks, both zone and pressure.”

It was JSerra’s first shutout since the 2010 season, when it shut out Fullerton, 31-0.

The Lions’ offense and special teams also contributed to the resounding win.

Ethan Aguayo got them on the scoreboard when he blocked a punt for a safety in the first quarter to put them up, 2-0.

The offense followed with a 50-yard touchdown march, which culminated with Dante Pettis hauling in Nick Robinson’s 11-yard pass in the back corner of the end zone.

Casey Eugenio, Conor O’Brien and Aguayo each added a touchdown in the first half, which swelled the Lions’ lead to 30 points.

It was the first game JSerra played with its new look up-tempo offense.

“We’re kind of a run-pass option team, and we had a bunch of backs going in there,” Hartigan said. “We had Pettis catching some balls, too. We want to spread the ball around as much as possible.

“We want to speed the game up a bit. I’m sure there are things we can improve on, but it’s a good start.”

Robinson had a good day leading the offense as he went 9 of 16 passing for 108 yards and two touchdowns. He might have had a few more completions if it wasn’t for a few drops.

His play-fakes also set up some nice runs for his running backs. Eugenio led the way on the ground with 138 yards and two touchdowns.

Pettis left the game in the second quarter due to some heat exhaustion, according to Hartigan.

The Lions have a week off before they take on Huntington Beach at 7 p.m. on Sept. 13 at Saddleback College.

For more on the Lions Football season visit them on Facebook.

Dante Pettis is More Than a Track Standout

Dante Pettis, JSerra Football and Track athlete
Dante Pettis, JSerra Cornerback and Track athlete

By Eric Sondheimer, LA Times

Having run the 200 meters in 21.84 seconds and leaped 23 feet, 7 inches in the long jump, Dante Pettis of JSerra established himself as a track standout in Orange County last season as a junior.

But he’s also an all-Trinity League cornerback in football, and based on how well he was covering receivers at the Edison passing tournament on Saturday, you can only conclude college recruiters are going to be excited about having someone with his speed and size.

San Diego State and Nevada have made scholarship offers.

He’s 6 feet 1, 170 pounds, and he wasn’t backing away from trying to contain Long Beach Poly’s talented group of receivers.

“It’s a challenge but good to see,” he said of the competition.

Pettis Named as OC Varsity Athlete of the Week

PettisCongratulations to three-sport athlete Dante Pettis for being named as OC Varsity’s Athlete of the Week.

The versatile junior was the only county athlete to win two individual titles at the Orange County Championships. Pettis won the long jump (22-8¼) and returned later in the meet to win the 200 in a time of 21.84. Pettis is the current county leader in the 200 and has the county’s best long jump mark of the season under all conditions.

 

Dispatch Recognizes JSerra Football

JSerra moved to 5-0 on the season in a hard fought victory over Trabuco Hills Friday at Saddleback College, getting a major assist from junior Casey Eugenio, who accounted for three scores, including an interception return for a touchdown, as the Lions won 31-21.

The Lions took advantage of some early Trabuco mistakes, recovering a fumble on the first Mustang Drive deep in Lion territory, then holding the Mustangs off the scoreboard after a punt snap was fumbled, which started the second Mustang drive on the Lion 18.

Eugenio’s first big play came near the end of the first quarter, as he picked off Nathan Perry’s errant throw and took it in from 45 yards out, starting the scoring for the Lions. Perry and the Mustangs responded on the next drive, going 85 yards in 11 plays. The Lions then responded, as Dante Pettis took in a 23-yard strike from Nick Robinson in for a score. The Lions had one more score in them too, blocking a punt on ensuing Mustang possession through the end zone for a safety and a 16-7 halftime lead.

Read the complete article here.