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Tuerk leads Santa Margarita to title game

12/3/2011

The Santa Margarita-Mission Viejo matchup on Friday night was hyped all week -- featuring USC commits and recruits on both sides of the ball -- and it didn't disappoint, as Santa Margarita came away with a 21-20 victory.

USC commits Max Tuerk and Jahleel Pinner were front and center, and Trojans fans got a good look at what each will bring to the USC offense in the future. Pinner began the game at fullback -- where he will play at USC -- and performed well there, showing why he is ESPN's top-ranked player at the position. But when tailback Buzzy Yokoyama went down with an injury, Pinner slid back and took over the running game, rushing for 105 yards, including a few impressive plays. Pinner is noticeably slimmer this season, but still runs with a powerful burst that will help him become a triple-threat for the Trojans -- blocking, rushing and receiving.

USC will not have Rhett Ellison or Ross Cumming on the roster next year, the two players who manned the fullback position this season, so Pinner should be able to compete for playing time right away. His history with the position in a pro-style offense as well as his overall football acumen should give him a boost in that competition.

On the other side of the field, offensive tackle Max Tuerk continued to show why more than a few people consider him to be the best offensive line prospect in the state. He was a devastating blocker at the point of attack, routinely driving his defender five and 10 yards downfield. As a former tight end, his foot speed and quickness are terrific and he brings a mean streak that will serve him well at the next level.

As for the underclassmen, Santa Margarita junior quarterback Johnny Stanton proved once again that all he does is win. His 1-yard touchdown run with little more than a minute remaining in the game proved to be the winning score and he finished with 118 yards rushing on 24 carries.

Mission Viejo junior safety Max Redfield was on the receiving end of one of Stanton's runs, unfortunately, but Redfield continued to show his skills on both sides of the ball. There are a few elite safety prospects in California for the class of 2013, and Redfield belongs on that list.

Santa Margarita junior wide receiver River Cracraft was injured for much of the season, but he is going to be one to watch through the spring and into next season. The in-state class of 2012 was absolutely loaded with terrific wide receivers, and Cracraft will be one of the players continuing that trend into the class of 2013.