June 14, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

PHOTOS: Crean Lutheran rolls past Valencia in Empire League opener

Crean Lutheran quarterback Jeremiah Finaly (right) and Eli Bray celebrate a TD Friday night. (Photos courtesy Crean Lutheran Shutterbugs, John Luciano).

Crean Lutheran High School’s football team opened Empire League action with a 49-20 victory Friday night at Valencia.

Saints QB Jeremiah Finaly led a balanced offensive attack, completing 16 of 24 passes for 184 yards and three touchdowns.

Justin Dominguez rushed for 138 yards on nine carries, one a 74-yarder to open up the second half against the Tigers.

To see the slide show, click on the first photo:

Dominquez had two rushing touchdowns along with Eli Bray, who also had two receptions for 17 yards. 

The Saints (5-1, 1-0) opened up the scoring with a 46-yard TD pass from Finaly to Colin Currier.

The Saints extended their lead to 21-0 in the first quarter before the Valencia scored two touchdowns before the end of the half.

Ben Byszewski’s 37-yard kickoff return set up the Saints with great field position with just over a minute to go in the second quarter.

The Saints executed their two-minute offense to perfection as Dominquez scored from one yard out ending the first half with a 28-14 half-time advantage. Tight end Carter Jones and wide receiver Luke Doyle added receiving touchdowns.

“Offensive coordinator Russ Oka, continues to run a balanced attack as the Saints rushed for 175 yards and passed for 186 yards with four rushing touchdowns and three passing touchdowns,” said Saints Coach Rick Curtis.

“The defense responded in the third quarter as they completely shut down the Tiger offense after defensive coordinator John Byszewski, and the defensive staff made the necessary key adjustments at half-time.

“Josiah Mora was a force on defense as he was all over the field from his defensive line position, racking up 13 tackles (seven solos, six assists) to go along with a forced fumble. The defensive front of Mora, Tyler Parker, Kyler Petronis, Anthony Jones, Carter Jones, Mason McCollough, Taurian Nash and Javari Nash met the Tigers’ rushing attack head-on and matched their physicality.”

Kyler Petronis recovered a fumble and Carter Jones’ interception at the end of the third quarter to seal the win for the Saints, who substituted freely in the fourth quarter.

Crean Lutheran also had another strong performance from its special teams.

“Connor Stephens continues to lead the special teams units,” Curtis said. “Stephens was good on all seven of his PAT’s and his kickoffs and punts pinned the Tigers deep in their own territory. The coverage teams were again solid throughout the contest and Ben Byszewski led the return teams with some key yardage on kickoff returns and punt returns.”

Crean Lutheran is back in action Friday night to host Pacifica in an Empire League game at 7 p.m. It will be homecoming for the Saints. 

Valencia (3-3, 0-1) plays at Tustin Friday night.