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Servite is flexing some muscle in the return of coach Troy Thomas

Servite is flexing some muscle in the return of coach Troy Thomas
An intense Servite coach Troy Thomas leads the Friars onto the field at the Santa Ana Bowl before a season-opening 17-7 victory over Bakersfield. (Jerry Soifer)

Troy Thomas won two Southern Section Division 1 football titles in eight years as coach at Anaheim Servite, then left for five years to coach at his alma mater, Encino Crespi.

He’s back at Servite and the Friars are a surprising 3-0 after wins over Bakersfield, Norco and Eastvale Roosevelt.

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“I do feel home,’’ he said Saturday morning. “I feel I’m a good fit here. Parents who choose Servite really want their kids pushed.”

The surprise about Servite is how well the Friars are playing despite starting 16 underclassmen. Of course, the Trinity League beckons, with a league opener against Santa Ana Mater Dei on Sept. 28.

“We’re getting better every week,” Thomas said. “What I don’t know is the level of the league because I haven’t been in it in a long time.”

Among the young players making an early positive impression is sophomore defensive back Noah Avinger. “He’s going to be special,” Thomas said.

Junior tight ends Ender Aguilar and Jake Overman are living up to their potential. Sophomore running back Jake Bandy and junior running back Derek Fuentes have been solid. Senior quarterback Blaze McKibbon continues to develop.

Thomas’ big focus was getting his players stronger. So far, so good.

“We’re getting better and better,” he said.

Culver City drama: Culver City and Downey Warren, two of the top teams in Division 7, had quite a game on Friday night.

Culver City won 34-28 when sophomore quarterback Zevi Eckhaus completed a 44-yard touchdown pass to Kevin McGuire with two seconds left.

Rising Camarillo: Quietly but convincingly, Camarillo (4-0) has become one of the top teams in Ventura County. In the Scorpions’ 35-19 win over Oxnard, quarterback James McNamara passed for 245 yards and two touchdowns while running back Jesse Valenzuela gained 138 yards.

Going 10-0? Garfield appears to have the best chance of any City Section team to finish the regular season at 10-0 after a 26-0 win over Crenshaw.

The Bulldogs are 4-0. Angel Hidalgo has five interceptions and PJ Garcia has rushed for 709 yards.

Flying Phantoms: First-year coach Anthony Jefferson has Cathedral at 4-0 after a 30-7 win over Los Angeles rival Loyola. The Phantoms will get their toughest test of the season on Friday at La Puente Bishop Amat (3-1), which has lost standout running back Damien Moore for the rest of the season because of a knee injury.

Tough time: Woodland Hills Taft lost to Simi Valley 63-0 and has been outscored in four losses to Southern Section teams 238-0. The Toreadors play Panorama City St. Genevieve next week, then finally get to face City Section competition starting on Sept. 28 when West Valley League play begins.

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“They played as hard as they have all season and battled all the way to the end,” assistant head coach Aron Gideon said of the Taft players. “Their commitment to their teammates is something I’m really proud of.”

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