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Football St. Anthony

PREVIEW: St. Anthony vs. St. Genevieve, Football

The562’s coverage of football in 2023-24 is sponsored in part by the MemorialCare Long Beach Medical Center Foundation and Miller Children’s and Women’s Hospital Foundation.

It’s no secret that St. Anthony has the inside track to winning the Del Rey League, and the Saints aren’t avoiding the conversation.

“Since day one we’ve talked about it,” St. Anthony coach Raul Lara said of the league title. “The biggest goal was knocking off (league favorite) St. Pius X-St. Matthias so that was huge for us and our whole program. But we’re not taking anything for granted.”

The Saints (6-2, 2-0) are coming off wins over Pius and Harvard-Westlake. Now they finish the season against the bottom two teams in the league standings. The first is tonight at Clark Field where St. Anthony will host St. Genevieve. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

“The kids seem to be adjusting and getting better and a we’re healthy which is the key thing for us,” Lara added. “What’s improved tremendously has been our offensive line and running back play.”

Running back Jojo Apisala has been taking advantage of great blocking from an offensive line that’s taken its game to another level with the arrival of transfer Jeremiah Taufi, who had to sit out a portion of the season. Lara said the freshman duo of Raymond Umi and Epeli Uhamaka has also been key to helping stalwarts Nico Rivera, Kaiden Grant, Dylan Durward and Matt Gonzalez in the trenches. Tight ends Soloalofa Lepaga-Ili and Logan Aranda have also been making space for Apisala.

St. Genevieve (1-5, 0-1) is coming off of three consecutive one-score games where the Valiants went 1-2 after a 24-21 loss to La Salle last week. St. Genevieve is averaging six tackles for loss on defense, and seven yards per carry as a team on offense, according to MaxPreps.

“Defensively they come with a lot of pressure, so we need to control the line of scrimmage and hopefully we can pick up whatever they’re trying to throw at us,” Lara said of St. Genevieve. “Offensively, they’re a power team that’s trying to run the ball, so hopefully we can get them to do things they don’t want to do.”

St. Anthony beat St. Genevieve 14-12 last season, and the Saints won a 20-14 overtime thriller in 2019. St. Genevieve hasn’t won this matchup since 2013 in another overtime game, 43-36.

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JJ Fiddler
JJ Fiddler is an award-winning sportswriter and videographer who has been covering Southern California sports for multiple newspapers and websites since 2004. After attending Long Beach State and creating the first full sports page at the Union Weekly Newspaper, he has been exclusively covering Long Beach prep sports since 2007.