1. Mission Viejo coach Bob Johnson said he wasn't trying to make excuses, but he recognized that the first half of the top-seeded Diablos' 41-27 loss to second-seeded Servite was “a disaster,” as his team made too many mistakes and dropped too many passes. Servite coach Troy Thomas quipped, “We dropped a lot of their passes too.”
2. All the respect in the world for Alex Bridgford, the Mission Viejo QB who finished 21 of 48 for 274 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Bridgford got crushed on the final play of the game and fumbled one yard from the end zone. In tears during the postgame award presentation, the junior showed the leadership mettle that will serve him well in the long run. He stood in and answered questions about the only loss his team suffered all season. That was in contrast to one of his senior teammates who refused to even acknowledge the reporter without so much as an “I'd rather not talk.” From where I stand, Bridgford is the Man.
3. Helping top-seeded Garden Grove win its first-ever football title, Josh Webb's performance in a 31-30 Southern Division victory over Beckman might have been the single-most exciting football performance I've seen in 30 years of covering high school sports. I was there the night Santa Margarita quarterback Carson Palmer outdueled Tustin running back DeShaun Foster, and I've seen plenty of highlight reel footage from the pressboxand the sidelines. I'm not sure anything compared to the dynamic performance by Webb on the biggest stage Garden Grove can play; his five-yard touchdown run (with a somersault) after taking a backward pass and then his conversion run (with a 360-degree rotation across the top of two defenders) with 1:27 left in the game was the best set of back-to-back plays I've seen. Ever.
4. Going into the title game, tThe advantage that third-seeded La Habra had over top-seeded Tustin was its versatility. In other words, the Highlanders had quarterback Cody Clements and Tustin didn't. Yet Clements attempted only eight passes, and none in the second half, of his team's 35-26 Southwest Division victory to win a fourth consecutive section title. He played an important role in getting La Habra a key score right before halftime, but really, the Highlanders beat Tustin straight up: run game vs. run game. No one would have picked La Habra in that battle, but Drake Griffin was the difference maker. The senior who transferred to La Habra from St. Paul because of the downturn in the economy rushed for 317 yards and scored four touchdowns. That was very Tustin-like. The victory gives makes coach Frank Mazzotta a six-time champion, matching Mission Viejo's Johnson for the most with a county school.
5. Servite linebacker Matt Inman told his teammates before the game against Mission Viejo that a lot of people want to win a championship “just to get a ring, but it shouldn't be about that. It should be about playing one more week. About playing together.” That's a culture that has been developed by Thomas, and embraced by his players. They are are selfless. As it should be.