If Erik Bunte transferring to Mission Viejo was a distraction this week for Santa Margarita Catholic, you sure couldn’t tell by the Eagles’ performance on Friday night.
Santa Margarita turned in its best performance of the season, a 55-0 nonleague victory over Trabuco Hills. The game was played at Mission Viejo High because of work being done on the homefield site at Saddleback College.
For SMCHS coach Harry Welch, it was his 300th game as a head coach; his lifetime record is now 245-52-2.
Johnny Stanton, Santa Margarita’s Nebraska-bound quarterback, was his stellar self in front of about 100 Nebraska fans who are in town for the UCLA-Nebraska game on Saturday. No fewer than six Nebraska broadcast entities were on hand to get a first-hand look at their future quarterback, and he didn’t disappoint on his 18th birthday.
- Check back later for video from the game.
He had two TD runs and two TD passes—in the first half. He helped the Eagles build a 35-0 lead that allowed them to coast in the second half. The scoreless fourth quarter was played with reserves and a running clock.
The victory by Santa Margarita (3-0) over Trabuco (2-1) was particularly impressive because a year ago—when Santa Margarita won the Southern Section Pac-5 title and the State Division I Bowl Championship—the team was not particularly impressive against the Mustangs.
This season, Trabuco came in with a 2-0 record, but they clearly have a ways to go before reaching elite status.
Santa Margarita held a 14-0 lead midway through the second quarter, but scored three times in last four minutes before halftime. Stanton passed 22 yards to Connor O’Brien, 24 yards to River Cracraft, and after consecutive passes of 14 and 26 yards to Ryan Wolpin, scored from one yard on a sneak.
There’s nothing sneaky about Stanton, though. He finished 16 of 20 passing for 302 yards and three touchdowns. He rushed five times for 87 yards and two scores.
Stanton, with seven games to go before the playoffs, broke Carson Palmer's record for total offense in a career (5,257). Stanton needed 214 to break the record and now has 5,413 yards.
Wolpin had a good night, too. He scored from 17 yards to give the Eagles the lead, and added touchdowns of four and 31 yards in the third quarter. He rushed 15 times for 173 yards.
This was the Eagles’ first game since the transfer of Bunte, a 6-7, 323-pound guard who had committed to UCLA. Bunte had not been playing full time despite expectations, and he transferred to Mission Viejo, which has lost in the Pac-5 semifinals or finals the past three seasons.
In Bunte’s place was sophomore Austin Maihen (6-4, 265), and he was part of an offensive effort that ran 48 plays and gained 587 yards.
In all, it was a good night for Santa Margarita, a team that has been near the top many national rankings since the preseason but had hardly looked the part.
Until Friday night.