Top Things Learned at SD Honor Bowl

Isaias Majera (67) is among the Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks players who are saluting their band after win during Saturday's games in Oceanside. Photo: Mark Tennis.

Isaias Majera (67) is among the Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks players who are saluting their band after their win during Saturday’s UT Honor Bowl in Oceanside. Photo: Mark Tennis.

It was a whirlwind of football at Oceanside High and Cal-Hi Sports was there for all four games. With scores of 50-39, 41-24, 57-21 and 69-55 it’s going to take awhile to sort everything out, but we’ll try with this feature post.

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Related:  Week 2 State Top 25 Scoreboard

UT San Diego Honor Bowl Coverage:  Notre Dame-Del Oro | Oaks Christian-Upland | Corona Centennial-St. Bonaventure

This year’s UT San Diego Honor Bowl was held on Sept. 6-7 at Oceanside High’s Simcox Field. The first game on Friday saw host Oceanside lose to Serra of Gardena 50-39. On Saturday, Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks topped Del Oro of Loomis 41-24, which was followed by Oaks Christian of Westlake Village defeating Upland 57-21 and then Centennial of Corona winning a scorefest over St. Bonaventure of Ventura 69-55.

Here are some thoughts jotted down during the weekend:

Centennial’s offense may be its best yet

That’s a hard statement to make since last year’s offense obliterated the state record with more than 8,500 yards. But running back Tre Watson (committed to Cal) is a lot stronger than last year and could set numerous school rushing and scoring records for a season. Quarterback Robert Webber gets the ball away maybe a tick faster than last year, too, and naturally seems wiser with all of his reads now that he’s in his second year starting. Barry Ware also is not the only outstanding target. Despite an injury to D’Vonte McKneely, who was expected to have a big senior season, senior Eric Locklin, junior Greyson Bankhead and sophomore Javon McKinley all showed against St. Bonaventure they can get open and they can make plays.

Tre Watson was all smiles after he rushed for 468 yards and scored seven TDs in Corona Centennial win. Photo: Ronnie Flores.

Running back Tre Watson was all smiles after he rushed for 468 yards and scored seven TDs in Corona Centennial win. Photo: Ronnie Flores.

Centennial’s defense may be its worst

You hate to be negative to kids, but so far this year the Huskies have given up 42 and 55 points in their games and both offenses they faced went for more than 500 yards. The defensive line could eventually become dominant, even against strong opponents like St. Bonaventure, once USC-bound Austin Maloata learns that he doesn’t have to simply bull rush on every play. He’s a freakish talent at 6-3, 265 and his game experience has been limited. The back seven, meanwhile, seems to have taken a bigger hit than expected with the departure NFTC MVP for DBs John Plattenburg back to Texas. The graduation of 2012 leading tacklers Anthonee Yim and Miquan Johnson also has created a void where someone has yet to step up.

Brandon Dawkins: Mr. Football candidate?

The Oaks Christian senior quarterback followed up his 434-yard, six-TD outing against Bakersfield by going 21 of 28 for 319 yards and three scores in his team’s 57-21 triumph over Upland. The University of Arizona commit looks a bit more polished and solid as a leader than last year and with the talent he has around him it wouldn’t be a shock to see him with 3,500 yards and 45 touchdowns heading into the CIFSS playoffs.

If he’s to come up the charts on the Mr. Football State Player of the Year tracker, however, (remember he was the State Sophomore of the Year two seasons ago) it will all depend on those playoffs because for the second year the Lions will be in the Pac-5 Division. They’re going to have to toughen up on defense, continue to play well when the weather turns cold (they didn’t last year) and it might give Dawkins the ability to have some signature games down the stretch.

Ricky Town really is a big-time junior

When you have an offer and a commitment from Alabama, that says a lot. Checking out St. Bonaventure quarterback Ricky Town for the first time, therefore, was going to be one of the highlights of the weekend for me. Town’s size, release, ability to hit receivers in tight spaces and his pocket poise were all outstanding. According to Managing Editor Ronnie Flores, he’s improved since last season. He’s without doubt a candidate to be an Elite 11 finalist next summer and makes me want to get a similar close look at St. John Bosco junior Josh Rosen very quickly to compare. I’ve seen both before in shorts with no pass rush but there’s nothing like live action for evaluations.

Oceanside still might have one of its best teams ever

Losing 50-39 to Serra of Gardena shouldn’t diminish the feeling among Oceanside supporters that this year’s team could be special. The Pirates’ skill players, especially Elijah Holder, Mikah Holder and Jace Whittaker, more than held their own against Serra’s wealth of playmakers. Serra was just too talented to be denied and proved its playmakers can get it done while playing offense or defense. If we had to choose between Serra and Corona Centennial right now, the Centennial offense and its sophistication would get the nod. But it would obviously be a matchup in which both teams might score in the 60s.

We loved this year’s schedule, but…..

We’re looking at it from a statewide perspective, which means it’s great for us to see a slate of games including Gardena Serra, Oceanside, Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks, Del Oro of Loomis, Upland, Oaks Christian of Westlake Village, Corona Centennial and St. Bonaventure. For attendance and local media attention, however, it would be better for the future of the Honor Bowl if more teams than just Oceanside from the San Diego area were playing. How about Mission Hills vs. Oaks Christian or Madison vs. Notre Dame?

What a shock: Notre Dame kicker shines

In the first half of its 41-24 victory over Del Oro of Loomis, Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks scored on its first series on a 50-yard field goal by Lucas Alfonso. He later added 49-yard field and that one would have been good from 57 or 58. The school’s two longest field goals, in fact, are 58 yards by Chris Sailer in 1994 and 57 by Kai Forbath in 2005. Like most seasons, there’s no doubt that Notre Dame has one of the state’s best kickers and this year that’s Alfonso.

The Honor Bowl deserves to succeed

In the three years that Honor Bowl Group organizer Mark Soto has run the event, we’ve been to at least one day of it each year (I couldn’t get down to Southern California last year but saw the Northern California games). Every time, there are several moments involving the veterans, wounded warriors, families of someone who was killed in action and current service members that just gives you goose bumps.

What makes these moments especially poignant is that they often take place with 16- and 17-year-old high school football players standing nearby. It’s hard not to think that some of these players will themselves be serving in the military and some of them maybe even next year at the same time.

Oceanside, with its proximity to Camp Pendleton, is an appropriate place to host the games. Other possibilities include a similar high school stadium near Travis Air Force Base or Vandenburg Air Force Base.

We also hope no matter the cost that Del Oro of Loomis gets invited to the Honor Bowl every year. Golden Eagles’ head coach Casey Taylor helped come up with the idea of the event since his father is a Vietnam veteran and Del Oro was a host school for the first three years. Anybody who writes off the Golden Eagles after the way they played in the first half of their loss to Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks would be nuts.

Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of He can be reached at Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @CalHiSports

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  1. Miles Dewey Davis
    Posted September 8, 2013 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

    Great event ! Besides Oceanside, Mission Hills, Helix, or Madison would hold their own against Norte Dame and Oaks Chrisitan etal.

    • Ronnie Flores
      Posted September 10, 2013 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

      A combination of Mission Hills, Helix or Madison, we wish were playing.

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