May 30, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Week 7 preview: Santa Ana and Calvary Chapel battle for top spot in Orange Coast League

Santa Ana Saints Coach Charlie TeGantvoort prepares his team before its game against undefeated Calvary Chapel. (Photo by: Fernando M. Donado, For OC Sports Zone)

After winning their respective Orange Coast League football openers, both Calvary Chapel and Santa Ana football teams will battle it out at LeBard Stadium at Orange Coast College Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. in hopes of getting momentum in the final stretch of the season.

Calvary Chapel (6-0, 1-0) defeated Estancia 24-14 last week to maintain its perfect record while Santa Ana (3-3, 1-0) beat Costa Mesa 40-9.

The Eagles have been in dominating form under first-year coach and former NFL player Pat McInally and are averaging 44.3 points per game so far.

“We are very excited, very big hurdle as we are playing a well-coached and talented team. Our boys are fired up for a big game like this one,” McInally told OC Sports Zone.

McInally credits his assistants Keith Laszlo and his son Jack McInally for the turnaround from last year’s 1-9 team and his players, adding that their “willingness to work” has contributed to the team’s success.

“We knew a lot of things had to go right,” he said. “Our coaches  have worked long and hard since last winter to get these kids ready. Our kids have worked hard on getting our offense and defense down and learning their assignments. We’re currently very pleased with the progress. Really excited about finishing strong.”

McInally added that his sole emphasis is for the Eagles to make the CIF playoffs while battling in a competitive Orange Coast League.

“Our dream is somehow to make playoffs,” he said. “Win as many league games as we can. We are a very small school of about 300 kids in a tough public league that is difficult as it is reflected on the game that went down against Estancia. We need to win games that we can week by week.”

As for the OCL, he said:

“Orange, we’ve seen them live and they are very talented. Meanwhile, Santa Ana – I don’t think they’ve lost a league game in the last five years. We know that no teams are as physical as the teams we will be playing against these next few weeks.”

Meanwhile, Santa Ana enters the game with hopes of continuing to improve, according to Coach Charlie TeGantvoort.

“They’re a 6-0 team, with a new coach, and definitely they’ve already done a lot of good things this season, but we’re preparing hard, getting ready to go, making sure we’re focused, and we’re ready to play our best,” said TeGantvoort. “We’ve gone through a tough preseason to get us ready for games like these.

“It’s always about league. Our goal is to win the league championship for a fourth year in a row, and we’re gonna do what it takes to make sure that happens.”

TeGantvoort said he believes that the major component to his team’s development this season has been the offensive line, to which he credits for the offensive performance against Costa Mesa. Before that, the Saints had only averaged 21.6 points a game in their first five contests of the season.

“Our O-line and D-line have just improve every week, and when those guys get going and get better, everything else gets better. Last game about 11 different guys touched the ball, and that’s great when you have so many different guys do things, but that’s a testament to the O-line making it happen.”

The Santa Ana coach also believes that minimizing turnovers will be the key against Calvary Chapel’s stingy defense. “You’ve got to protect the football, and you have to make sure you’re doing all of things with two hands on the ball, and Calvary Chapel has already had a lot of takeaways this year, and we got to make sure we keep that going for this week.”

TeGantvoort added that Santa Ana has taken steps on improving on defense by creating turnovers. “It’s something we’ve improved on even from last year. It’s a bigger focus to create takeaways. Create turnovers, and we’ve done a good job doing it.”

The Santa Ana coach also emphasized that at this stage playing with a young roster shouldn’t be an excuse anymore. “We started the year with 20 new starters, but now we’re on week seven, and they’re not new anymore. They’re seasoned and they they are getting better every week.”

-Fernando M. Donado, For OC Sports Zone