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Football St. Anthony

Football: St. Anthony Runs Winning Streak To Four Games

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.

There wasn’t any panic on the St. Anthony sideline when visiting St. Genevieve returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown on Friday night at Clark Field.

“Man, I’ve been doing this for over 30 years so I know how Senior Night can get really chaotic,” St. Anthony coach Raul Lara said with a chuckle.

The Saints shook off the emotion of Senior Night, and the shock of the quick score, while scoring 37 unanswered points in a 37-7 Del Rey League victory.

“We try to not panic on stuff like that,” St. Anthony junior Jasiah Lolesio-Pua said of the early touchdown. “Me personally, I knew I had to make big plays to get our team’s momentum going so that’s what I tried to do.”

It worked. Jasiah Lolesio-Pua scored his teams first touchdown of the night to give St. Anthony a lead, and then effectively put the game out of reach with a 65-yard punt return for a touchdown late in the third quarter. He finished the night with eight catches for 133 yards, while his brother Elijah Lolesio-Pua racked up 76 yards on 15 carries including a highlight-worthy touchdown run on his last carry of his Senior Night.

“I love him and I’m just grateful that I could make his Senior Night,” Jasiah said of Elijah. “And I’m glad he scored.”

“It’s amazing getting to play with my little brother my last year here,” Elijah said of Jasiah. “He’s actually my motivation for playing this year. I look forward to seeing him prosper in the future.”

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Next week, St. Anthony (7-2, 3-0) will host La Salle in the regular season finale that will double as Homecoming. A win will give the Saints an undefeated league title. It would be their first since 2017.

“I’m really proud of the kids since this is my third year here and we’re in position to win league… That’s pretty remarkable,” Lara said. “I’ve got several rugby kids who won national titles (like the Lolesio-Pua’s) so they know how to win. They have to teach that to their teammates. It’s coming along. They’re starting to understand it.”

“We’re all just committed to work the program that coach Lara has given us,” Elijah said. “We’re really giving 100 percent at practice and during the games.”

St. Anthony got into its offensive groove on the second drive of the night that was capped by a Christian Martin field goal. Quarterback Adrian Perez found Jasiah Lolesio-Pua for a key 32-yard catch and run down the sideline on that drive, and then the next time the Saints got the ball, Perez hit Jasiah Lolesio-Pua for a 23-yard touchdown on third down to make it 10-7 early in the second quarter.

The Saints defense was phenomenal all night while coming up with three interceptions from Sawyer Smalley, Landon Washington and Bryson Busbee. St. Genevieve didn’t pick up a first down in the first half, and only ran 11 offensive plays before halftime. The Valiants finished the night with under 100 net yards of total offense.

The St. Anthony offense really helped out its defense thanks to long sustained drives throughout the game. The Saints offense held the ball for more than 25 minutes of the game.

Senior Remy Doering scored on a nifty reverse play from 25 yards out just before halftime to make it 17-7 Saints at the break.

St. Anthony only attempted two passes in the second half while wearing down the St. Genevieve defense and running down the clock. Elijah Lolesio-Pua and fellow running backs Marco Camacho, Nathan Martinez and Joshua Camacho combined to average 6.7 yards per carry on the night. Joshua Camacho also scored a touchdown.

Jasiah Lolesio-Pua’s punt return touchdown and Elijah Lolesio-Pua’s 14-yard score put the punctuation on a solid performance for the Saints.

Lara said it’s those types of performances that has him liking where his program is going.

“I think (St. Anthony has) got somebody (in me) that really cares about building a strong program,” Lara said. “Not only to be a great football program, but we want great kids coming out of our program. That’s what I’m all about, and that’s what we’re getting. I love the crowd tonight, the family atmosphere with the little Pop Warner kids out here and they’re loving it. Praise God that he’s allowing me to do this back in Long Beach. It’s pretty neat.”

St. Anthony hasn’t lost to St. Genevieve since 2013.

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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.