Ryan Hilinski is growing up fast. He has sprouted to 6 feet 4 and 230 pounds. He has blond stubble growing on his chin. He “looks like a college quarterback playing with kids,” as one observer said Saturday during the Huntington Beach Edison seven-on-seven passing tournament.
My first time meeting Hilinski was in 2011 when he was 10 and his two older brothers, Kelly and Tyler, assured me Ryan would be the best quarterback from their family of quarterbacks.
They were right.
Going into his senior year at Orange Lutheran, Hilinski is blossoming into a player who’s going to produce big plays and plenty of touchdowns on a weekly basis this fall.
“The football field is like his office,” coach J.P. Presley said. “He comes to play.”
The Lancers have back nine of their 11 starting players on offense. Their receiving group is exceptional, led by Kyle Ford and tight ends Ethan Rae and Elijah Mojarro. Rae sat out last season because of a knee injury, so Orange Lutheran can’t wait to unleash its new double tight end formations.
“I think we have a chance of doing big things this year,” running back Reggie Strong said.
Asked whether Hilinski has improved — he passed for 3,749 yards and 33 touchdowns as a junior — Strong said Hilinski was more decisive and less hesitant on his throws.
“We’re going to be pretty good and a force to reckon with,” Hilinski said.
Lots of people have been coming up to Hilinski and asking, “How are you doing?” He was thrust into the national spotlight after the January suicide of Tyler, a quarterback at Washington State.
His response has been to play for his brother and stay busy. He traveled to Texas last week for a camp. He’s leaving soon for Ohio for another camp. He has committed to South Carolina for the following season.
“There’s always those moments, but he keeps busy and on top of everything,” Presley said. “He’s a real good communicator.”
Although the Trinity League still looks like a duel between Santa Ana Mater Dei and Bellflower St. John Bosco, don’t overlook the Lancers. Their quarterback is eager to take on the challenge of playing against the best.
It was no surprise that Mater Dei, Orange Lutheran and St. John Bosco made it to the semifinals of Saturday’s tournament. The surprise was Mission Viejo, which is learning a new offense under former St. John Bosco offensive coordinator Chad Johnson.
Quarterback Joey Yellen used to be at St. John Bosco, so learning the offense isn’t too difficult, but the Diablos showed they have the skill position players to have another strong team. Jojo Forest caught a winning touchdown pass to enable Mission Viejo to defeat St. John Bosco. Mater Dei won the championship.
The Monarchs’ secondary is about as good as it gets with Jeremiah Criddell, William Nimmo and Elias Ricks leading the way. Quarterback Bryce Young was accurate and tight end Michael Martinez filled in nicely at times for Bru McCoy, who is injured.
Mission Viejo will be hosting a seven-on-seven passing tournament Saturday, with many of the same teams from the Edison tournament competing.
Decision time for transfers
Harbor City Narbonne should be able to learn this week the status of more than half a dozen transfer students. City Section commissioner John Aguirre is meeting with parents and school officials to try to determine who’s eligible and whether they will have to sit out the first month of the season.