Football: Defense is stepping up for Santa Margarita
Life without its all-state quarterback Johnny Stanton won't be easy for Santa Margarita. However, if the defense keeps putting up zeros, the Eagles stand a good chance of winning the Trinity League title--and doing damage in the Pac-5 Division playoffs.
The offense predictably struggled while trying to break in new quarterbacks Josh Canty and Kyle Sweet against defending league champion Anaheim Servite on Friday night, but the defense made sure however many points the Eagles scored would be enough.
Even Santa Margarita Coach Harry Welch was impressed by his defensive unit, which registered its third shutout of the season in the Eagles' 21-0 victory at Saddleback College.
"I'd have to give the defense as high a grade as I would ever give, which is probably a C+," Welch said. "I thought the energy was great and Connor O'Brien made some big hits for us. Those are like a slam dunk in basketball. It changes momentum and creates a buzz in the stands."
Through six games, Santa Margarita has allowed a total of 47 points. Granted, the Eagles had an extra week to prepare for Servite, but given that Stanton was on the sideline instead of in the huddle after undergoing surgery to repair a torn ACL this was a confidence booster for a team that started the year ranked as high as #1 in the nation in several polls.
The Friars have been something of a nemesis for Santa Margarita and entered Friday's game having won seven straight in the rivalry. Last season's league matchup was an instant classic, with Servite prevailing 43-42 on a two-point conversion in overtime.
"Every team's beatable--we've beaten many teams we shouldn't have over the years," Servite Coach Troy Thomas said. "But Santa Margarita has a lot of seniors and they're still going to do what they always do."
Junior Josh Canty started at quarterback for the Eagles and completed 5 of 8 passes for 30 yards with two interceptions and two runs for six yards in the first half. Sophomore Kyle Sweet played the whole second half at quarterback, completing 6 of 7 passes for 36 yards and gaining 51 yards in 11 carries.
Whoever earns the starting job in the weeks ahead can sleep easier knowing the Eagles' defense will take some of the pressure off him and put it on the other team's quarterback.
-- Steve Galluzzo
Photo: Santa Margarita quarterback Kyle Sweet completed six of seven passes for 36 yards in the second half in Friday night's 21-0 victory over Servite. Credit: Steve Galluzzo / For The Times