Southern California's High School Sports Blog

Football: O’Brien’s Versatility Helps San Juan Hills Remain Undefeated

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San Juan Hills quarterback Patrick O’Brien continued his strong early season performance in the Stallions victory over Capistrano Valley. Photo/Jason Eichelberger

The final score told the story of one unbeaten team convincingly defeating another in a matchup of South Orange County rivals looking to continue strong early season play.

But moments after his team scored a season-high 58 points and racked up 670 yards of total offense in a 58-21 victory over Capistrano Valley in nonleague action Friday at San Juan Hills High, Stallions head coach Aaron Flowers didn’t mince words when asked whether or not his 3-0 team was capable of playing better.

“Yes,” Flowers said. “Because we have taken turns as a position group or a side of the ball not practicing well over the last two weeks.”

“If we can focus and practice well, that will make the difference.”

So what was the biggest reason for the Stallions being able to over come their practice struggles under the bright lights of live game action?

The simple answer on Friday was senior quarterback Patrick O’Brien.

The Nebraska commit entered the season regarded as one of Orange County’s most intriguing signal calling talents, and through the first three games of the season, he has done little to change that perception.

The latest evidence of O’Brien’s rising emergence saw him account for 444 total yards of offense with his arm and legs.

He executed the read option to perfection throughout much the night with well-executed fakes, powered his way down the field with timely runs through a beleaguered Cougars defense, and uncorked an array of passes that showed the diverse talents of a quarterback generating a steady amount of attention and praise.

O’Brien has thrown nine touchdown and only two interceptions this season to date.

“He is obviously a difference maker and it’s fun to watch,” Flowers said. “The stuff that people don’t see is that he completely manages the game for us on every snap.”

“There’s a lot on his plate and he does a good job with it.”

To his credit, O’Brien said that his early season performance hasn’t altered his goal of playing at an even higher level.

“I’m harder on myself than anyone and just need to stay focused on what I need to do as a quarterback,” O’Brien said. “I need to know my reads, master the defense, and take each play one at a time.”

He then referenced another football team, (led by a quarterback wearing the same uniform number that graces his jersey), that has used a simple formula as the foundation to their unmatched success over the last 15 years and serves as the inspiration to this year’s Stallions team.

“Like the Patriots saying, our coaches say just do your job,” O’Brien said. “If we do that, we’ll be fine.”

Score: San Juan Hills 58, Capistrano Valley 21

Pivotal Moment(s): After Capistrano Valley tied the score at 7 on a 46-yard touchdown reception by running back Tyler Waggoner with 4:29 left in the first quarter, San Juan Hills took control of the game with a 24-0 run over the next 11 minutes. O’ Brien tossed touchdown passes to Ryan Collins (56 yards) and Harrison Van Galder (13 yards), while Devin Wegis scored on a 9-yard run and Jack Montgomery booted a 31-yard field goal.

Key Stats: Patrick O’Brien completed 22 of 31 for 337 yards and five touchdowns. He did not throw an interception.  O’Brien also rushed for a game-high 107 yards. Stallions wide receiver Jacob Huff caught a game-high six passes for 134 yards and two touchdowns. The Stallions rushed for 333 yards as a team, as their offensive line imposed its’ will on the Cougars defense and opened gaping holes throughout the game.

Quotable I: “The offensive line is the most important part of our team and they know that,” Flowers said. “It’s always good to see them play that way.”

Quotable II: “We just took what the defense gave us and it was a good game all around,” O’Brien said. “We blocked well and our receivers made a lot of great plays.

“It was easy for me to put the ball in their hands.”

Quotable III: “O’Brien is very, very good and they (San Juan Hills) are a good football team,” Cougars coach Ernst Bucher said. “Their offensive line pushed us around a bit and they were a lot better than we were tonight, no doubt.”

Records: San Juan Hills (3-0), Capistrano Valley (2-1)

Notes: San Juan Hills had four other ball carriers that gained 40 yards or more on the ground. Among them was Stallions backup quarterback Brady Bjorkman, who scored the final touchdown of the game on a 44-yard jaunt down the sidelines in the fourth quarter… Wegis had a stellar all-around performance. In addition to his rushing touchdown in the second quarter, he scored the Stallions’ first touchdown of the game on a 15-yard reception in the first quarter. He also added two interceptions on defense and prevented a Cougars touchdown with a fantastic lunging pass deflection in the third quarter…Cole Suchesk, younger brother of former Mission Viejo football and track standout Alex Suchesk, flashed his own quality speed and shiftiness on with a 13-yard scoring run in the third quarter… Capistrano Valley running back Tyler Waggoner rushed 12 times for 87 yards, including a 61-yard touchdown in the second quarter that narrowed San Juan Hills’ lead to 37-21. “He is explosive and a big part of our offense and what we do,” Bucher said. “ When he gets into the secondary, he’s hard to catch.”… Capistrano Valley kick returner Devin Jenkins provided a huge highlight in the second quarter. Fielding a kickoff with his heel hovering inches above the goal line, Jenkins used strong blocking by his teammates to weave a path through the Stallions kickoff coverage and into the open field, where he outraced Montgomery to the end zone to complete a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. “Our kickoff return team is pretty good this year and that play provided a spark for us,” Bucher said… Cougars quarterback Kevin Brown struggled to get in rhythm throughout the contest, completing only 5 of 23 passes for 77 yards and two interceptions… Though his team suffered its first loss of the season in convincing fashion, Bucher hopes the defeat will serve as an important learning experience. “The character of a football team is how you overcome adversity,” Bucher said. “We will look at the film, find some positives and negatives, and get better.”… The head-to-head series between the Cougars and Stallions is now tied 3-3 with the teams alternating wins in their last four games…Both teams will continue nonleague play next Friday. San Juan Hills will take on Marina at Westminster High, while Capistrano Valley will host Castle Park of Chula Vista.

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