Last month, San Juan Capistrano JSerra’s football team faced Newport Beach Corona del Mar in a seven-on-seven passing tournament in Redondo Beach. The Lions struggled slowing down the Sea Kings’ aerial attack and lost.
With helmets and pads on, the outcome turned out much different on Friday.
JSerra disrupted Corona del Mar’s passing game and opened the season with a 49-7 rout.
Tarik Luckett played a key role on both sides of the ball. Most importantly, the senior stopped wide receiver John Humphreys, who burned the Lions’ secondary for four touchdowns in July. Humphreys failed to score this time around.
In one of the best matchups in Southern California, the 6-foot-2 Luckett covered the 6-5 Humphreys one on one for much of the first half. Luckett locked down the junior with offers from USC and Stanford, holding him without a catch for almost the first 10 minutes.
“We’ve been just training for this first [game], knowing that they were going to try to utilize No. 6,” said Luckett, who also has offers from Pac-12 schools. “We just had to shut him down so he couldn’t have a good game.”
Luckett, who didn’t defend Humphreys in July, broke up a couple of Ethan Garbers passes intended for Humphreys on Friday.
When he wasn’t doing that in the first half, Luckett caught two second-quarter touchdowns from quarterback Caden Bell, who also rushed for a touchdown. The first was a 50-yard strike over the middle and the other a 22-yarder in the back of the end zone.
Luckett began to limp off the field after cramping up at the end of the first half. By then, the Lions had built a 35-7 lead.
The lone score they gave up came midway through the second quarter. The Sea Kings fumbled inside JSerra’s five-yard line, and junior tight end Mark Redman recovered the ball in the end zone.
Other than that, the big plays belonged to JSerra.
The Trinity League team scored on a 39-yard run by running back Chris Street, a transfer from Santa Ana Mater Dei; on a blocked punt returned eight yards for a touchdown by Storm Seeley; on a 47-yard run by running back Samuel Green; and on a 44-yard run by running back Anthony Ward.
It actually took some time for the Lions to get going offensively. They gambled on their first drive, going for it on a fourth-and-five situation at the Sea Kings’ 35-yard line. They ran Street to the right, and Humphreys, playing safety, and linebacker Franz Froehlich stuffed him at the line of scrimmage.
“There’s a lot of positives, but offensively, I was actually disappointed the way we performed,” said JSerra coach Pat Harlow, whose team rushed for 286 yards to Corona del Mar’s 40. “I just thought we could have run the ball better … early on.
“The backs were making a lot of plays for us, making us look better than we were up front.”