July 18, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Transition to new head football coach smooth for league leading Santa Ana Saints

Coach Rory Schoonmaker calls plays for the Saints during a game this season. (Photos: Fernando M. Donado, For OC Sports Zone).

Santa Ana High School’s football team hasn’t missed a beat under first year coach Rory Schoonmaker.

The Saints, 6-2 overall, are on top of the Orange Coast League standings with a 4-0 mark entering Friday’s homecoming game with Saddleback at Santa Ana Stadium.

Santa Ana will then have a bye week before gearing up for a league showdown with Orange on Friday, Oct. 27 at Fred Kelly Stadium.

Then, the Saints will likely prepare for the CIF playoffs. Three teams from the league earn automatic CIF playoff berths, possibly in different divisions.

“We will round out with Orange and obviously, if we can take care of business, then a playoff run hopefully,” Schoonmaker said after the Saints 49-10 victory over Costa Mesa last week.

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Schoonmaker, who has been the Saints offensive coordinator the past six years, replaced Charlie TeGantvoort, who was named head coach at Marina.

He’s found out being head coach has a lot more responsibility.

“I’m enjoying the record,” he said. “I miss the days when I could just worry about football, but the team has really been there, I definitely have the support from admin and a great staff,” he said. “We’re undermanned but we work hard and my guys work as hard as anyone to get a game plan in and make sure it’s being executed soundly.”

Schoonmaker plans on having a solid game plan against league rival Orange. The Panthers are currently tied for second place with St. Margaret’s. Orange is the defending Orange Coast League champion.

Orange (3-4, 2-1) hosts Estancia Saturday night at Fred Kelly Stadium and then plays at Costa Mesa on Friday, Oct. 20. The Panthers defeated Santa Ana last year to capture their second straight league title.

“I’ve seen them (Orange) play, they’re big, physical and they have a phenomenal running back (Ardwon Morris) and super athletic quarterback (Hype Grand), they do run the ball better than anybody in our league, we’re going to have to shut that down and try and really stop their athletes before they get going,” Schoonmaker said.

“In terms of offense, we just have to continue to work on execution, throw catch, efficiency. Those will all be big factors in that game.”

Santa Ana’s offense has been geared around two seniors, running back Charles Hughes and quarterback Sergio Torres and junior receiver Cristian Ramos.

Hughes has rushed for 903 yards on 119 carries and scored 17 touchdowns. He’s scored five touchdowns in a game twice this year.

He credited the Saints offensive line for his success in last week’s game.

“I just got to keep pushing,” said Hughes, who would like to play college football next season.

Torres has been steady at quarterback, passing for 1,414 yards and 15 touchdowns. He’s also rushed for 308 yards and seven touchdowns.

“We want to just keep on practicing with the same discipline and go through each one day by day not worrying too much about next week and the week after that, just going day by day,” Torres said after the win over Costa Mesa.

Ramos has 41 catches for 812 yards and nine touchdowns this season.

—By Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone; timburt@ocsportszone.com