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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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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Baseball: All Eyes Will be on Sophomore Chase Strumpf

Strumpf after winning MVP in Colombia
Strumpf after winning MVP in Colombia

By Eric Sondheimer, LA Times

It has been a little over a month since sophomore Chase Strumpf of JSerra returned from Colombia with a gold medal after helping the USA 15U baseball team win the Pan American championships.

It was another achievement for a young player who keeps raising expectations. Before he even played in his first high school game last season, he accepted a scholarship to UCLA. Then he became a starter for the Lions. And things keep getting better.

Strumpf is ranked No. 3 in the nation among the class of ’16 prospects by Perfect Game. He’s appeared in Sports Illustrated’s Faces in the Crowd after hitting five home runs in eight games in Colombia to earn tournament MVP honors.

“It was amazing being able to wear USA on your chest,” he said of his USA 15U experience last weekend at halftime of the JSerra-Buena Park football game. “It was the best feeling in my life. I’ll never forget it.”

Strumpf has already made a big jump from freshman to sophomore year based on his summer. He’s stronger and has more power. He got to see Trinity League pitching as a freshman. It’s a little scary to think what he’ll look like by his senior year.

Capistrano Dispatch Cross Country Preview

JSerra-400x500Boys and Girls Cross Country
Marty Dugard has resided over one of the most dominant girls cross country teams in CIF history. The Lions have won the Trinity League, CIF-SS and CIF State Cross Country Division 4 Championship a record three consecutive years. It’s a stretch that has been unparalleled and Dugard believes that the Lions still have fight left in them.

When asked about his outlook on the 2013 season, Dugard responded with something that might seem like hyperbole. But when looking at the team’s track record in recent years, it’s a statement that looms large.

“I honestly think this is going to be our best season ever,” Dugard said. “I want to win two state trophies (boys and girls) and I think we could do it.”

A key piece to the girls team’s hopes at another string of titles will be junior Ashley Geisler, who recently suffered a stress reaction but is on the mend and rehabbing. Geisler finished 14th overall at the state meet in 2012 and played an integral role in the Lions tight, top of the rotation placement in races, which became their trademark.

Dugard pegged sophomore transfer Charlotte Owen as a runner who will help add depth to the roster and could possibly have a breakout year.

The boys cross country team may not have a runner who will finish on the podium week in and week out, but they have developed a tight pack running mentality over the offseason, which Dugard believes will give them an edge in the major meets. Dugard said his current top five runners are all finishing their races within 45 seconds of each other. Dugard stressed that on any given day, it can be senior Nic Fracassi leading the way or it could be junior Anthony Mariconda.

The Lions’ first real test on their way to their lofty goals will be at the Trinity League Prelims on October 2.

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.”

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Future looks bright for JSerra, Acidera

374901_449550255091926_866401914_nBy Mark Cooper, OC Varsity

JSerra came up short of winning the Trinity League girls tennis title last year, losing both of its matches against Santa Margarita.

With standout freshman Jadie Acidera leading the charge, JSerra coach Kirk Orahood thinks his team will pose a strong challenge for the defending league champions later this season.

The Lions won their fourth consecutive match to start the season, defeating Sage Hill, 14-4, in a nonleague match at The Tennis Club in Newport Beach on Tuesday.

Acidera lost only one game while sweeping her three sets at No. 1 singles. Mary Kaffen also swept her three sets in singles, and the Lions’ No. 1 doubles tandem of Zoe Kaffen and Natalie Wek won all three of their sets.

Orahood said he thought Tuesday was a strong performance and believes the Lions (4-0) have a chance to unseat Santa Margarita later this season.

“I think we’re pretty solid,” said Orahood, who believes the match between the top two teams in league from last season will come down to doubles when they meet Oct. 8. Acidera has yet to lose a set this season.

“There’s always something to improve on,” said Acidera, who said she felt she made too many unforced errors against the Lightning (1-2).

JSerra’s Robinson Gets High Marks on Progress Report

Parker Joe Robinson
Parker Joe Robinson

By Adam Maya, OC Varsity

Parker Joe Robinson threw two scoreless innings while striking out three batters in a recent showcase at UCLA. But the true test came the next day when he asked his father, Jeff, how he looked.

“I noticed he was opening up his front side early,” Jeff said. “He said, ‘Yeah, I felt it. I wasn’t getting loaded.’ For him to figure that out is really gratifying.”

Not so much because of his son’s success, Jeff said, but his progress. Jeff pitched nine years in the major leagues, including one season (1991) with the Angels. Once Parker Joe made it clear at a young age he hoped to “follow (his) dad” on the mound, Jeff alternated between Father and Coach, one pitch at a time.

“With my background, I knew you had to build a foundation,” Jeff said. “It’s a process.”

Parker Joe, who will be a senior in the fall at JSerra, worked on being quicker to the plate from the stretch this past spring. The previous year was it was about maintaining his balance point. Before that it was his follow through.

Now, Jeff wants his son to put it all together.

“It’s for him to figure it out on his own,” Jeff said. “He’s learned all the major mechanics. Ever since he started pitching, there was one goal per season, one thing to master every year. That’s led him to where he is now.”

This week that’s the Area Code Games in Long Beach, where more than 200 of the nation’s top prospects are competing in an all-wood bat tournament. Parker Joe is one of seven players from Orange County that made the cut.

“It’s a big honor,” Parker Joe said.

It’s also a big improvement. Just 15 months ago, the powerful, 6-foot-5 Parker Joe was still playing junior varsity, mostly because Lions varsity coach Brett Kay wanted to see Parker Joe develop into a two-way player. The sophomore responded by playing nearly every inning and winning MVP honors.

“He understood the process,” Kay said.

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