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Football: Placing trust in Johnny Stanton

August 26, 2012 |  9:30 am

Last season ended with Santa Margarita Coach Harry Welch declining to kick a field goal and placing his trust in quarterback Johnny Stanton being able to score on fourth down in the CIF state championship Division I bowl game.

The confidence and trust Welch has in Stanton was seen again in the Eagles' season opener on Saturday in Arizona. On a fourth-and-two situation from the seven-yard line, Welch had Stanton pass the ball, and he connected with River Cracraft for a touchdown in a 27-14 victory over Brophy Prep.

The Nebraska-bound Stanton already looks better than a year ago. He worked hard in the weight room to become stronger, and it shows in being able to take hits while running the ball. But he also improved as a passer. Yes, he had two interceptions, but I was impressed with the ball he was throwing.

And speaking of impressive _ how about that Santa Margarita defense? With eight starters back, the offense was expected to be good, but few expected the Eagles to perform so well on defense immediately.

It's a long season ahead, but Santa Margarita clearly looked like a No. 1 team in Southern California right out of the starting block. It's not too hard to envision a De La Salle-Santa Margarita Open Division bowl game at the Home Depot Center in December.

-- Eric Sondheimer