High School

Column: Mission Viejo passing tournament shares stage with linemen competition

MISSION VIEJO, CA., JULY 13, 2019: Long Beach Poly wide receiver #35, Ramil Brown (right) hauls in a
Long Beach Poly wide receiver Ramil Brown, right, hauls in a pass over his head against a Mater Dei defender during the Mission Viejo passing tournament at Mission Viejo High School on Saturday.
(Mark Boster / For the Times)

As an overcast sky on Saturday morning gave way to blazing sunshine and rising temperatures, skill position players at the Mission Viejo seven-on-seven passing tournament didn’t know how easy they had it compared to the 300-pound linemen competing in events such as pushing sleds, tire maneuvers, lifting weights and pulling rope.

As Stanford-bound left tackle Drake Metcalf of Bellflower St. John Bosco put it, “There’s some mean, nasty dudes out here just wanting to get after it. We’re hard workers. We don’t take breaks or plays off.”

Quarterbacks firing off passes with no one rushing would be first ones to compliment their linemen. They know come August, when the pads are donned, their best friends will be the linemen doing the blocking and protecting.

As impressive as Santa Ana Mater Dei has looked in passing competitions this summer, coach Bruce Rollinson said, “You can do stuff until the cows come home. It’s what’s in the stable that matters.”

In other words, the people up front will decide the best high school football teams in Southern California this fall. Mater Dei and St. John Bosco have been gearing up and training hard, which is the reason several media organizations project them as two of the top teams in the nation.

However, St. John Bosco’s linemen can do a little trash talking after beating the Monarchs’ linemen in tug of war. Mission Viejo won the lineman competition.

MISSION VIEJO, CA., JULY 13, 2019: St. John Bosco guard Drake Metcalf drives his portion of the two-
St. John Bosco guard Drake Metcalf drives his portion of the two-man sled during lineman competition at the Mission Viejo.
(Mark Boster / For the Times)

Passing competitions allow quarterbacks, receivers, linebackers and defensive backs the opportunity to work on individual fundamentals. You can detect athleticism, speed and instincts, but there are lots of things hidden, such as how fast a quarterback can run.

The secret is out on Mission Viejo junior Peter Costelli. He ran a 10.82-second clocking in the 100 meters during the track season last May, and suddenly college recruiters were offering scholarships.

“In today’s college offenses, you want a quarterback who can run,” Diablos coach Chad Johnson said. “It’s a huge thing for defenses to defend.”

Costelli came to Mission Viejo from Santa Margarita after the firing of coach Rich Fisher, and one of his top receivers from last season, Chase Nenad, joined him this week. You don’t get to see how fast Costelli can run during passing competitions. He stands in shotgun formation and rarely moves. But come the fall, wait to see what Johnson has in store.

“There’s more options in the offense,” Costelli said.

Harbor City Narbonne continues to play this summer without head coach Manuel Douglas, who has been reassigned by the Los Angeles Unified School District pending the outcome of a district investigation. His assistants continue to do an admirable job keeping the program focused under interim coach Joe Aguirre, but everyone is waiting to see if Douglas will make it back by the time fall practice officially begins at the end of the month.

The Gauchos certainly aren’t lacking in talent. Traeshon Holden, a receiver who moved into the area from Maryland, is committed to Alabama and scored on a long touchdown reception against St. John Bosco.

Corona del Mar’s combination of quarterback Ethan Garbers and receiver John Humphreys was tough to stop all day. Garbers is a Washington commit while Humphreys is headed to Stanford.

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Mater Dei quarterback Bryce Young kept finding receivers Kody Epps and CJ Williams. When the receivers get more experience, beware. USC quarterback JT Daniels dropped by to watch the Monarchs.

In the semifinals, St. John Bosco defeated Mater Dei and Corona del Mar knocked off Mission Viejo. In the championship game, St. John Bosco defeated Corona del Mar.

Now it’s time to move on to real football, where the linemen get to be heard.

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

Twitter: @latsondheimer