Main Menu

Explore More

Karlie Carlson

Photo credit: Mike Ortiz

by Michael Huntley

COSTA MESA >> Tetairoa McMillan had three interceptions in the fourth quarter to help Servite secure a 34-3 victory over Santa Margarita Friday in the quarterfinals of the CIF-SS Division 1 playoffs at Orange Coast College. 

The final score was not indicative of how competitive the game was. Servite led 13-3 with eight minutes remaining in the game when McMillan intercepted a pass and returned it 87 yards for a touchdown to extend the lead to 19-3. 

“Everyone in the stadium knew the ball was going there and all credit to my coaching staff for putting me in the right position to be successful and change the game,” McMillan said. 

“It’s 13-3 and we are getting ready to score and the best player on the field showed he was the best player on the field,” Santa Margarita coach Anthony Rouzier said of McMillan. “They are well-coached and he’s a great player.”

McMillan, an Oregon commit, had another interception on the ensuing drive which led to a 36-yard touchdown run by Houston Thomas to increase the lead to 26-3. 

After another McMillan interception, Thomas ran for a 4-yard touchdown to finish the game. 

Both defenses played much better than they did in the season’s previous matchup between the two teams when Servite won 48-21. 

Servite (9-2) held Santa Margarita (6-5) to 215 yards of total offense. Aden Eckenwiler had an interception for the Friars. Gage Burnett and Kitione Talavou had sacks in the first half. 

“I thought we played well defensively,” Servite coach Troy Thomas said. “Last time we had some breakdowns and they had big plays. They (Santa Margarita) do a good job offensively and to hold them to three points is a big accomplishment for our defense.”

Eckenwiler returned his interception 63 yards deep into Santa Margarita territory. Servite’s offensive drive stalled and penalties pushed the Friars back to the 25-yard line. Lucas Gimenez, who signed a soccer scholarship to Sacramento State Wednesday, made a 42-yard field goal to put Servite ahead 3-0 in the first quarter. 

Early in the second quarter, Noah Fifita threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Wes Taylor to give Servite a 10-0 lead. Fifita completed 17 of 30 passes for 182 yards with a touchdown and an interception. 

Ben Durham recovered a fumble for the Santa Margarita defense which gave the Eagles good field position. Romen Christensen made a 22-yard field goal to cut Servite’s lead to 10-3 entering halftime. 

Santa Margarita’s defense prevented big plays and forced two turnovers. Junior defensive back Blake Wilson had an interception for the Eagles. Sophomore LeVar Talley, who received scholarship offers from Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech Friday, had three tackles for a loss and top prospect Hero Kanu had two. 

The Friars were uplifted by the return of senior defensive lineman Maxx Silao. He suffered injuries in a car accident last spring and had not suited up for a game this season. He was the team’s lone captain all season long and for the first time this season he took the field and had a tackle in the first quarter. 

“The game was dedicated to him,” Thomas said of Silao. “We are so thankful that he could recover and be out here on the field with us.” 

Servite will play at St. John Bosco in the semifinals on Friday, Nov. 19. The Friars lost to St. John Bosco 24-10 just two weeks ago in a Trinity League game.

“We are excited to keep playing football for sure,” Thomas said. “Bosco is a great football team and it will be a big challenge but our guys will come to play.” 

“Every year we talk about beating them,” McMillan said. “Enough with the talking, we just have to go out there and beat them. The excitement is through the roof. We know it is going to be a dogfight, we just have to be prepared.”

  • Athletics
  • Football