In separate games Saturday, the best high school football team in the state and the best high school football quarterback in the nation supposedly were on the field at the Home Depot Center in Carson, but those focusing on Concord De La Salle and Westlake Village Oaks Christian's Jimmy Clausen might have been watching the wrong games.
Orange Lutheran and quarterback Aaron Corp turned the Division II CIF State Championship Bowl Game against Palo Alto into a showcase event, resulting in a 42-28 victory.
Corp, headed for USC, repeatedly burned Palo Alto's defense. He rushed 11 times for 136 yards, including touchdowns of 31 and 52 yards, and passed for four touchdowns -- all to Austin Pettis -- of 20, six, 24 and 15 yards.
"I'd take Aaron hands down over any player anywhere," Orange Lutheran Coach Jim Kunau said. "He can run, he can throw, he's fearless. He will hurtle himself into any situation to do whatever it takes to help his teammates."
Corp completed 16 of 32 passes for 208 yards. He also threw two interceptions, both after having guided the Lancers to a 35-7 lead with 3:29 left in the third quarter.
"It's a quarterback's offense," Corp said. "I can run the ball, I can throw the ball."
Pettis, who has committed to Boise State, caught eight passes for 108 yards.
Orange Lutheran (14-1) put the finishing touches on a season in which it had the state's second-toughest schedule, according to the computer-based Freeman Ratings at Calpreps.com. Its only loss came in double overtime to Anaheim Servite, with whom it shared the Trinity League title.
That gauntlet took its toll, however.
Lutheran played without USC-bound defensive end Michael Reardon, who suffered a shoulder injury against Huntington Beach Edison in the Southern Section Pac-5 Division finals last week.
Starting tailback and middle linebacker Ricky Pemasa reinjured his lower leg in that game and was also out Saturday, as was defensive tackle and offensive guard Don Williams, who was injured in the semifinals against Long Beach Poly.
Blake Ayles, Russell Koh and Cullan Maher filled in on defense, and complemented the play of linemen Kelan Bragg and sophomore Kapono Asuega.
Lutheran built a 21-0 lead before Palo Alto (12-2), the Open Division champion from the Central Coast Section, was able to score.
"We had to pick up the defense," said Corp, who scored from 31 yards on his team's third play of the game. "I just wanted to play well for the team to win."