May 25, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Undefeated Portola begins league play Friday vs. Laguna Hills

Portola’s football team heads to the field in a game this season. (Photo: Fernando M. Donado, For OC Sports Zone)

Portola’s football team, after finishing non-league play with a perfect 7-0 mark, begins Pacific Hills League action with a road game Friday night against Laguna Hills.

The Bulldogs finished non-league play defeating University 49-0 Friday night at Uni.

“We were able to finish off our pre-season with a win, so that’s always nice going into league,” said Portola Coach Peter Abe.

“Coach (University Coach Vince) Mesa has a solid young program that will only get better with time if they stick to it and continue to put in the work. They got started pretty late in summer, which is tough, but there is a lot of potential with the Trojans. Looking forward to what coach is able to accomplish there.

“In the end, was a great team win in all phases. Yes, Nova Kebeli had a big night, breaking yet another school record for touchdowns (five in a game).”

Kebeli, the leading rusher in Orange County, had 240 yards rushing but Abe also credited other players.

“Got to give a shoutout to our big dawgs on the offensive and defensive Lines who are putting in work this season to make it easier for guys like Nova and our linebackers to put up the performances we’ve seen,” Abe said.

“We had a few new guys in the rotation, and our staff was happy with their performance.  We played a much more disciplined game overall, securing five turnovers on defense (including three interceptions by defensive backs Samuel Sandoval with one returned for a TD and Kamran Jahromi hauling in two) resulting in multiple short fields on offense.”

“The Bulldogs continue to get better each week regardless of who’s in there, and that’s encouraging for sure. Guys continue to step up when called upon. They’re definitely an exciting group to watch.”

Abe has been preparing his team for the start of league play. The four teams are a combined 26-2. Irvine is 7-0, Portola 7-0, Dana Hills 6-1 and Laguna Hills 6-1. Laguna Hills is coming off a 14-13 victory over Beckman.

“As has been mentioned before, the Pacific Hills League is wide open,” Abe said. “All teams are either undefeated or have only one loss.  All teams are playing tough, quality football right now, and we are excited to see how these next three Friday nights turn out to close out the regular season.”

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