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Football St. Anthony

Football: St. Anthony Christens New Stadium With Blowout Win

St. Anthony debuted its new stadium Friday night in their football season opener, and the Saints made sure it was a night to remember for their fans. The purple and white got up big early and never looked back in a blowout win that saw the clock run for the entire second half. St. Anthony scored two touchdowns on defense and gave up just 15 total yards in the contest, which they won over visiting Jefferson 55-0.

“It was really nice, we got a team meal from our booster club and it was just amazing to be here at home and playing on our new field,” said Saints QB Adrian Perez, who was 5/9 for 90 yards and a touchdown. 

It was the Saints’ first true home game since the Spring of 2021, as they’ve been using other teams’ facilities as home field for the last two and a half years. With a great crowd on hand to see a lopsided win, it was hard not to feel the school spirit for the Saints.

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“The last two years I’ve been here, we lost our first home game, and not just lost, we got our butts kicked,” said St. Anthony coach Raul Lara. “So we had to change that. Jefferson is struggling a little bit and our schedule is going to get a little tougher, but I did like how organized and efficient we were today, I was pretty pleased with that.”

The Saints didn’t have much to frown about. They scored early and often as Josiah Apisala tackled the Jefferson punter in the end zone for a safety and then Perez hit Remy Doering for a touchdown shortly after the safety punt to make it 10-0. The Saints never looked back, not allowing almost any ground on defense as they got pick-sixes from Sawyer Smalley and Bryson Busbee, and yielding just one first down all game.

Apisala scored a touchdown on the ground and Elijah Lolesio-Pua added a pair to make it 40-0 at halftime. Nathan Martinez and Marco Camacho finished the scoring off in the second half, as all the backups played.

Some coaches use games against outmatched opponents to pad stats for their stars, but Lara has always taken a different tact--and he coached many blowouts while running the show over at Poly for 13 seasons. 

“They had about 18 players, I feel for people like the LA Unified School District schools because they’re losing a lot of kids,” he said. “I will never score 99 points on a team that’s hurting, I’m not about that. So we let everyone play and we spread it around. Why crush a person that’s already crushed? I take that seriously regarding youth.”

While playing respectfully, the Saints still flexed their muscle. Perez was under control while the Saints offense put up 179 yards rushing on just 14 carries, and the defense was dominant as well.

A big two-way contributor was the junior, Apisala, who at 5-10 215 pounds is an absolute load. He was smashing on defense and seemed unstoppable on offense with 60 yards and a touchdown on just four carries; he also had the safety tackle in the end zone to put up the first official points at the new Clark Field.

“He’s gonna be something special,” Lara said of the Valley Christian transfer. “We’ll see how these guys really step up next week when we play West Torrance, and then we come back home to Dominguez. We’re going to be playing well-coached teams with great athletes, so we’ll see what happens. We’ve got to be ready.”

VIDEO: St. Anthony vs Jefferson Football
PHOTOS: St. Anthony vs Jefferson Football
Mike Guardabascio
An LBC native, Mike Guardabascio has been covering Long Beach sports professionally for 13 years, with his work published in dozens of Southern California magazines and newspapers. He's won numerous awards for his writing as well as the CIF Southern Section’s Champion For Character Award, and is the author of three books about Long Beach history.