When the opposing coach compares you to UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley and San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, it's time to take a bow.
Junior quarterback Travis Waller of Anaheim Servite earned praise from Huntington Beach Edison Coach Dave White with his ability to make plays Thursday night during Servite's 31-14 victory at Orange Coast College.
"He's Hundley and Kaepernick," White said.
Waller passed for 87 yards and ran for 27 yards and one touchdown, hardly statistics to shout about. But when the Friars needed a pass or run to pick up a first down or keep a drive alive, Waller was usually the catalyst.
"He's a guy who can take over a game when he wants to," Servite Coach A.J. Gass said.
Servite, ranked No. 13 by The Times, continues to progress under Gass, a first-year coach who wasn't the first choice to succeed Troy Thomas and might not even have been the second choice. But a three-game winning streak in September over the likes of Long Beach Poly, La Mirada and Edison should offer confidence to those once skeptical of Gass' credentials.
Tate Beachley rushed for 108 yards and scored one touchdown. Nick Lopiccola rushed for 76 yards and scored two touchdowns. Justin Parcells and Adam O'Shea each had sacks in the second half when Servite was pressuring a young Edison offensive unit.
Edison's one bright spot was Kiante Goudeau, who returned a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter.
Upon second glance, Gass' lack of head coaching experience (he played 10 years in the Canadian Football League) doesn't look too worrisome. His ability to lead, organize and delegate responsibilities is coming out, and most important, the players are responding to a 37-year-old who embraces the pressure of high expectations.
Asked about competing in the tough Trinity League next month, Gass said, "Oh, I love it. You're playing for something great. When every game is a make or break game, it's thrilling and exhilarating. I can't wait for these next two weeks to fly by, because we open up against Mater Dei, and that's a huge game."
There's also a huge game coming up Oct. 5 at Santa Ana Bowl. Concord De La Salle, the state's most successful football program, is coming to town to face the Friars. The last time that happened was 2010, when De La Salle won, 48-8, in the CIF state championship Open Division bowl game.
At a minimum, Gass has found a way to energize Servite's offense, which struggled during a 3-7 season in 2012. Maybe it's the players being a year older. Or maybe it's allowing Waller to improvise and take charge out of a shotgun formation.
Servite scored more points against Long Beach Poly (31) than Corona Centennial (28). Servite defeated the Jackrabbits, 31-24, and Centennial lost to Poly, 35-28.
Who would have predicted either scenario?