High school football: Mission Viejo continues surprising run

Mission Viejo coach Chad Johnson at practice.
Mission Viejo coach Chad Johnson has the Diablos at 5-1 and ranked No. 5 in Division 1, according to
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

Having to replace 10 of his 11 defensive starters and transition several new offensive linemen into key spots, coach Chad Johnson of Mission Viejo faced plenty of challenges this season, including a much tougher nonleague schedule designed to prepare the Diablos for a final South Coast League game against San Clemente.

So how are the Diablos 5-1 and positioned to be the No. 5 seed for the Southern Section Division 1 playoffs, according to

“We are very excited,” Johnson said. “If somehow we can run the table and be 9-1… “


Daniel Dominguez, a 5-foot-9 wrestler who played middle linebacker with relentless toughness, is the Diablos’ leading tackler and an example of how first impressions about size mean nothing.

“Every single game, I look across at the opponent, ‘Oh my God, they’re so much bigger than us,’” Johnson said.

Then Mission Viejo goes out and wins.

The latest triumph came against Chatsworth Sierra Canyon in a 27-10 decision. The Diablos have wins over Long Beach Poly and Mission Hills Bishop Alemany. Their only loss was to unbeaten Anaheim Servite, 44-7.

Defensive backs Jake Higgins and Ruben Lopez have been key players, along with quarterback Kadin Semonza, receiver Mikey Matthews and linemen Shlomo Bass and Rashad Beckham.

Historic win for West Ranch: Valencia West Ranch had never beaten rival Valencia in football dating to the 2007 season — until Friday night. Junior quarterback Ryan Staub passed for 295 yards in a 23-20 Foothill League victory.

Lincoln stays unbeaten: It was close but Los Angeles Lincoln improved to 6-0 with a 36-30 Northern League win over Eagle Rock. Vincent Godinez led the defense with five sacks.

Lopsided wins: Corona Centennial defeated Riverside King 84-0 on Thursday night after leading 49-0 after one quarter. Los Angeles defeated Hollywood 83-0 on Friday night. Los Angeles coach Anthony Jackson said he tried three times to get Hollywood to agree to a running clock in the first half. It finally happened late in the second quarter. The Romans led 70-0 at halftime. Matt Lara completed seven of nine passes for 256 yards and five touchdowns for L.A.

One-handed catches: It was a weekend for great one-handed catches. You can decide which one is best.

JSerra’s Titus Heimuli made his one-handed catch against Santa Margarita.

Huntington Beach Edison’s Nico Brown made his against Newport Harbor.

And Anaheim Servite’s Tetairoa McMillan came up with a one-handed interception against Orange Lutheran.

Best in 805 area code: It was the battle of unbeatens, and Ventura St. Bonaventure (6-0) relied on Jared Barlow to come away with a 21-14 win over Santa Barbara Bishop Diego (5-1). Barlow returned a blocked kick for a touchdown to break the 14-14 tie and also had an interception.