Los Alamitos wrapped up a perfect 6-0 record and the outright Sunset League championship with a 41-3 win over Newport Harbor on Friday at Los Alamitos High. Malachi Nelson threw for three touchdowns, connecting with Brian Jurado, Makai Lemon and Shain Allen. Jurado also ran for two touchdowns and Gavin Porch added another touchdown run for the Griffins.
The Griffins finished the season ranked No. 3 in the Orange County poll. Two other Sunset League teams also finished in the top 10 (Edison at No. 5 and Corona del Mar at No. 9)
Given all the circumstances surrounding this most unusual season, the Griffins were happy to have the shortened spring season. With all the obstacles that popped up along the way, Head Coach Ray Fenton said the success of the team hinged greatly how each player rose up to the expectations of their individual roles.
“I think all of our kids did that,” Fenton said.
Initially, football was scheduled to begin back in January. Teams were cleared to practice, but soon after, state guidelines changed, and restrictions returned. In all, the several months of separation presented challenges to keep players focused and to maintain any kind of regular routine.
However, after the first game, Fenton said the team settled into a focused group. They defeated Corona del Mar, a team coming off a state championship, and then Edison, a team Fenton said was one of the best they’ve had since he’s been at Los Alamitos.
The Griffins were young, but very talented. Sophomore quarterback Malachi Nelson led the offense, throwing for more than 1,500 yards in six games, with 23 touchdowns and only four interceptions. Makai Lemon, also a sophomore was on the receiving end of 43 passes, with nine touchdowns. He also returned a punt for a touchdown and returned one of his four defensive interceptions for a score as well.
The Griffins will be losing two key players on defense to graduation. Seniors Tyler De Leon and Mason Burt led the defense with 8.5 and 6 sacks, respectively. They also combined for 36 unassisted tackles. But the Griffins will return plenty of players who contributed on both sides of the ball. And with more activities being reinstated, Fenton said they have already scheduled the usual summer events, such as passing leagues and big man competitions that help prepare for fall season.
Despite all the missed opportunities, Fenton said the spring football season proved to be beneficial. He likened it to a college spring season, where teams are allowed to scrimmage in full pads. He also noted that, thanks in large part to the patience and support of parents, it turned into a positive experience.
“It really was one of the best and most unified seasons we’ve had since I’ve been at Los Al,” Fenton said.