Originally published Oct. 5, 12:30 a.m.
By Martin Henderson
JSerra had never been ranked in the Orange County Top 10 and played 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.
Quotable: “Physically, we matched up well. Execution we were on, we were good. We took a big step,” said JSerra coach Jim Hartigan. “We’ve played Trabuco before, and they’re a good program. It’s a good win because they’re potentially going to be a playoff team. It’s a step in the right direction. It’s a big step.”
Quotable II: "Offensively, we were atrocious. … We should be ashamed of what we did offensively. We were terrible,” said Scott Orloff, Trabuco Hills’ coach. “We had a bad week of practice. ... They all realize they didn’t practice hard and they’re upset with how they practiced and played. They’re embarrassed. This was a humbling experience."
Quotable III: "They're as good as Santa Margarita," Orloff said.
Records: JSerra (5-0), Trabuco Hills (4-2)Notes: It was Senior Night at Trabuco Hills, and it's one they’ll never forget—for the wrong reasons. … JSerra meant business from the opening kickoff. It drove 80 yards in 13 plays with Dante Pettis scoring on a shovel pass from 9 yards. Robinson was six-of-six on the drive for 48 yards. … Ethan Aguayo caught a 23-yard touchdown pass that gave JSerra a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter. He also had two of JSerra’s three interceptions. The second one gave the Lions possession at the Trabuco 30 and set up Eugenio’s only touchdown, a 1-yarder for a 30-7 lead. … The other interception was made by David Eugenio. … Trabuco Hills didn’t look like the team that took Santa Margarita to the wire a week earlier in a 28-26 loss. Maybe it was the Senior Night festivities before the game. But after a defensive stand at its 11 and an 80-yard drive to pull to 14-7 on Tommy Kelley’s two-yard run with 4:10 left in the half, it looked like Trabuco was back to its old self. … But against the JSerra defense, Trabuco couldn’t pick up a first down in the second half for more than 10 minutes, and on the next play, Aguayo made an interception. … The Aguayo pick had to hurt. Coming out of a timeout, JSerra was slow to get onto the field and hadn’t completely set its defense. …
D.J. Bailey, who had a good game on defense, including a sack, scored twice on runs of 3 and 5 yards. … The game got a bit chippy in the fourth quarter as Trabuco’s frustration became apparent. … The Mustangs scored their second touchdown when Jimmy Jacobs passed to Connor O’Malley, who went 71 yards for a score. A two-point conversion run by kicker Blake Cuzzupoli finished the scoring at 37-15. … JSerra's Jacob Capps converted a 23-yard field goal for a 17-7 lead. He missed wide from 34 yards with a strong crosswind, and from 50. ... Trabuco Hills, after winning its first four games for the first time since 1992, has now lost two in a row heading into South Coast League play next week. The Mustangs play at No. 9 Tesoro (4-1). … JSerra begins Trinity League play on the road against No. 8 Orange Lutheran (5-0). The Lions have beaten OLu the past two seasons.