Santa Margarita Catholic will get a chance to defend its Southern Section Pac-5 title.
The Eagles made sure of that Friday night when they scored a 42-0 Trinity League victory over JSerra at Saddleback College.
Santa Margarita will play at Bellflower St. John Bosco next week with first place in the Trinity League on the line. If the Eagles win, they will get a share of their first Trinity title. If they lose, they could fall as far back to third place.
What they won't do, though, is fall out of the playoffs. The top three teams from the league get automatic berths in the playoffs, and for a team that lost its all-everything dual-threat quarterback, Johnny Stanton, heading into the second-toughest league in America, a spot in the 16-team playoff field is all that really mattered.
Santa Margarita (8-1 overall, 3-1 in league) was bolstered by the return of tailback Ryan Wolpin, who sat out last week's nail-biting 17-14 victory over Orange Lutheran because of a sprained ankle.
Wolpin rushed for three touchdowns as the experienced Eagles outclassed a young JSerra squad.
It's the fourth consecutive loss by JSerra (5-4, 0-4) and the second in a row by shutout. Prior to being outscored by Servite, 28-0, the Lions had taken Bosco to overtime before losing, 44-41, in one of the best performances in the program's history.
The Santa Margarita defense had two sacks and limited JSerra's rushing attack to 31 yards as the Eagles recorded their fourth shutout.
Wolpin carried 18 times for 93 yards and three scores of 1 yard apiece. Kyle Sweet turned in a solid performance—which is all he needs to do in place of Stanton—by completing 12 of 18 passes for 130 yards.
Santa Margarita scored six rushing touchdowns; in addition to Wolpin, Duncan Hume, Sweet and backup QB Josh Canty also scored. Sweet, who ran in from 10 yards, was the only score that wasn't a 1-yarder.
JSerra's outstanding two-way player, junior Casey Eugenio, rushed for 23 yards and caught passes for 28. He was carried off the field in the third quarter against Servite. Sophomore quarterback Nick Robinson was 10 of 17 for 88 yards with two interceptions.
JSerra closes the season next week with a home game at Saddleback College against Orange Lutheran (6-3, 1-3). If JSerra and Servite both win, it will create a three-way tie for fourth place, behind undefeated Bosco, Santa Margarita and Mater Dei.