Medium/Small School Teams of Week

In this salute to teams we have categorized as medium or small schools based on competitive equity, enrollment and other factors, it’s a new feature this season pointing the spotlight on two of them each week who just had impressive outings on the football field. Congrats to Charter Oak of Covina (medium) and Orland (small).

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Players from Charter Oak enter the field. Photo: @COHSFootball /

Medium Schools

It’s been a few years since the passing of longtime head coach Lou Farrar, but with their former coach always front and center in their thoughts this current group of Chargers is looking strong.

Farrar’s son, Dominic, is now running the program and had to be pleased to find out several weeks ago that his dad will be one of the initial coaching inductees (just 10) into the inaugural class of the new California High School Football Hall of Fame that will be housed at the Rose Bowl.

This year’s team at Charter Oak improved to 5-0 last week with a 34-21 victory over West Covina. The best win so far may be the first one, 38-24, against a Northview of Covina squad that won the 2021 CIF SoCal D4-A regional title.

Transfer QB Richie Munoz has sparked the Chargers to their 5-0 mark. The former QB at La Salle of Pasadena (and not related to the QB with the same name at Bishop Amat) passed for 198 yards and three TDs vs West Covina, but the week before that he had 335 yards and six TDs against South Hills (55-7 win). Despite the pandemic cutting one season to just five games, Munoz is still moving up on several all-time state career lists. With his freshman totals at La Salle of 2,626 yards passing and 30 TDs giving him a boost, Munoz has gone well past 7,000 yards for his career and currently has 89 career TDs.

Munoz has been particularly adept at spreading the ball around to different receivers. The team’s top two TD catch totals, for example, are just at four each for both Nathan Alexander and Solomon Davis. Zakkarii Black has three TD catches and he’s also the leading rusher with 295 yards and three rushing TDs.

Charter Oak has won five CIF Southern Section titles in its history. For this year’s team to get another one may depend as much on which division the Chargers land in the CIFSS competitive equity brackets as to how much they improve by the end of the regular season. The first order of business, though, is the Mountain West League where despite the record the Chargers are not the favorites. Our medium schools team of the week from earlier this season, Ayala of Chino Hills, is considered to be.

Small Schools

There’s been some solid to very good teams at Orland in recent years, including 9-3 from last year, 11-2 in 2015 and 11-1 in 2011. This year’s team at the Glenn County school in the CIF Northern Section could be in that top group and showed it again with an easy 55-6 triumph last week over its longtime rivals from nearby Willows.

Orland’s Grant Foster celebrates. Photo:

Coming off of a 29-13 win over Shasta of Redding (from the medium school Eastern Athletic League), head coach Nick Velazquez’s team kept the Battle for the Axe trophy for the 13th straight season in the series with Willows. Orland pushed its early-season record to 4-0 and will be playing unbeaten Durham in this week’s game.

The Trojans love to ground and pound on offense, which is shown by the fact that QB Grant Foster has only thrown the ball 14 times in the first four games. Foster, though, is the team’s leading rusher with 681 yards and seven TDs. Junior Jaime Albarran also has been effective as he has 323 yards rushing and five TDs so far. Orland’s defense has been more than solid, too. One of its leading players has been senior Alex Martinez (3 interceptions).

To this day, Orland remains one of those very few schools in the state that we associate more with a colleague than any player or coach. That’s because alum Kevin Askeland is still going strong as a major feature provider and rankings compiler for Kevin has always been Mr. Orland to us since he was researching Orland records at the state library while attending college in the early 1980s at UC Davis where he met our founder, the late Nelson Tennis. Kevin later worked for Cal-Hi Sports as a correspondent and was a free-lance writer for us at Student Sports prior to him starting his own web site covering the Northern Section and then later joining MaxPreps. He also has been working as a journalism teacher at Williams High. No one at Williams calls him Mr. Orland, but that’s always going to be hard to drop for us.

Kevin Askeland and the rest of those from Orland have to be excited about this year’s team. More good news is that eight starters on both sides of the ball will be back next season.

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