Servite reached the soft spot of its nonleague schedule Friday and discovered that the victories still don't come easily.
The 10th-ranked Friars defeated El Toro, 21-7, at Trabuco Hills but needed a late defensive stop to keep the Chargers from moving within a touchdown.
The Friars (1-2) have one of the most competitive nonleague schedules in Orange County. They opened the season with a six-point loss to Esperanza, which was ranked fourth in the county preseason poll, then were defeated, 34-19, by Fontana, ranked ninth in Division I.
Servite was expected to catch its breath against a young El Toro team, then return to the competitive ranks against Fountain Valley and second-ranked Mater Dei in its final nonleague games. But despite moving out to a three touchdown lead, the Friars could never put the Chargers out of reach.
"I was pleased with what we did. Things went our way and we took advantage of them a little bit," Servite Coach Larry Toner said. "I thought we got a little complacent at the end and they showed that we are probably as good as you (Servite) are, and if you don't play your very best we'll beat you."
The Chargers scored their only touchdown with three minutes 45 seconds remaining when senior quarterback Mike Strand sneaked in from the one-yard line to cut Servite's lead to 14. On Servite's next drive, quarterback Dan Petropulos connected with tight end Pat Kinmartin on a 44-yard pass that put the Friars inside the three-yard line.
But on the next play, Petropulos mishandled the snap and El Toro recovered.
"We got a little satisfied with ourselves, I guess, and got sloppy," Toner said. "The quarterback essentially told me, 'Well, I thought we were going to go in again and I just wasn't concentrating and wasn't doing my job.' "Strand completed six consecutive passes to move the Chargers (1-2) inside Servite's 20, but the Friars' defense stiffened and stopped El Toro on downs.