Cade McConnell leads Los Alamitos football past Newport Harbor
Cade McConnell of Los Alamitos High throws a pass against Newport Harbor in a Sunset League game at Cerritos College in Norwalk on Friday.(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)
The Los Alamitos High football team took on some tough opponents in its nonleague schedule.
In facing the likes of Vista Murrieta, Long Beach Poly and Tesoro prior to Sunset League play, the Griffins were made to never take their foot off the gas.
The well-oiled machine that is Los Alamitos continued to produce at a high level on Friday night.
Cade McConnell threw for 243 yards and four touchdowns, and the host Griffins defeated Newport Harbor 42-7 in a league game at Cerritos College.
The Griffins (6-1, 2-0 in league) have won six in a row since opening the season with a 38-35 loss at Vista Murrieta. Perhaps the most important game of the season lies ahead, as Los Alamitos is slated to go against Corona del Mar (6-1, 2-0) on Oct. 12. That game will also be at Cerritos College, and could very well represent the league championship game.
“We know how highly ranked [the Sea Kings] are, and they’re picked to win the Sunset League,” Griffins coach Ray Fenton said. “They’re top 20 in the state. We know all that stuff about them, but we haven’t looked real closely at them yet. That will start tomorrow.”
Fenton and the Griffins’ coaching staff have focused on each week’s opponent. Now that the Sea Kings are next on the schedule, it is clear that the Griffins have been looking forward to facing CdM for a long time.
“At the beginning of the season, everyone was doubting us, saying that we weren’t going far in this league, that we would get second or third,” Los Alamitos junior outside linebacker Giovanni De Leon said. “Every week, we practice hard to prove the doubters wrong.
“As of right now, reporters are saying that this is going to be the hardest game that we play in league. We’re all looking forward to it. We’re not going to doubt them at all.”
The Griffins recorded four sacks. Michael-Allen Reddy had 1½ sacks, and he also blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown in the second quarter.
Anthony Leon and Cameron Shead also made multiple plays in the Newport Harbor backfield.
Los Alamitos has outscored its opponents 111-7 through the first two weeks of league. The Griffins’ first-team defense has not surrendered a score in either game.
We know how highly ranked [the Sea Kings] are, and they’re picked to win the Sunset League. They’re top 20 in the state. We know all that stuff about them ...
— Ray Fenton, Los Alamitos High coach
Newport Harbor (3-3-1, 0-2) got its only touchdown with 5:29 left in the game on a 20-yard pass from Cole Lavin to Rory McCrory.
Sailors coach Peter Lofthouse said that the offense “short-circuited” in the first half, as the Sailors tried to slow the game down with the Griffins pushing the tempo offensively.
In the second half, Lavin connected with Aidan Goltz on three plays of at least 15 yards. Goltz made eight catches for 111 yards.
“We see a lot of potential in Cole as our future quarterback,” Lofthouse said. “We believe in giving him the reps, and he’s going to learn from his mistakes.
“We’re hoping just each week that he’ll continue to progress and get better.”
Clay Liolios and McCrory both received a look at quarterback earlier in the season, but they have since been deployed as receivers for the Sailors.
McConnell threw two touchdowns to Demario King, and one each to Kenui Huey and Zack Wagoner. Two of those touchdowns came on the first play of a drive.
“I think it was a great opportunity, the fact that the coach had the confidence in me to take some shots tonight,” McConnell said. “I just had to trust the guys out there. With the offensive line protecting the way that they did, it was easy to do.
“My job was just to get it into the playmakers’ hands, and that’s exactly what happened.”
Fenton praised the ability of his first-year starting quarterback to stand in the pocket under pressure.
“He’s fearless,” Fenton said of McConnell. “He’ll stand there and take it as long as it’s going to deliver a good ball. He gives our kids a chance to catch it.”
King made four catches for 91 yards, but it was one that he failed to make that provided an interesting moment. He dropped down and did pushups in the middle of the field after dropping an interception in the third quarter.
“I was just disappointed in myself because that was a really easy interception to the house,” King said. “I was just mad at myself, so that was the only way to better myself. Just quick pushups real quick.”
Los Alamitos 42, Newport Harbor 7
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Newport Harbor 0 – 0 – 0 – 7 — 7
Los Alamitos 21 – 21 – 0 – 0 — 42
LA – Huey 60 pass from McConnell (Valenzuela kick), 11:41.
LA – Norman 19 run (Valenzuela kick), 7:05.
LA – Wagoner 24 pass from McConnell (Valenzuela kick), 1:08.
LA – King 42 pass from McConnell (Valenzuela kick), 11:03.
LA – King 30 pass from McConnell (Valenzuela kick), 8:13.
LA – Reddy 3 punt block return (Valenzuela kick), 5:46.
NH – McCrory 20 pass from Lavin (Starnes kick), 5:29.
NH – McCoy, 3-20.
LA – Norman, 3-18, 1 TD; Mitchell, 6-18.
NH – Lavin, 17-26-1, 184, 1 TD.
LA – McConnell, 10-15-0, 243, 4 TDs.
NH – Goltz, 8-111.
LA – Huey, 2-95, 1 TD.
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