By Zach Cavanagh
On local, county, state, national and international levels, San Juan Capistrano athletes made their mark in a wide variety of sports. San Juan Capistrano added new champions and professionals to its ranks in a memorable year.
Here is a look back at some of the best San Juan Capistrano sports moments of 2018:
Eight SJC Players Shine in Football All-Star Game
San Juan Hills’ Isaiah Grover, Jackson Swift and Gabe Martinez; JSerra’s Al Fisher, Eli Jefferson and Tristan West; and Capistrano Valley Christian’s Colin Thornton all contributed for the South County All-Stars in a win over the North, 30-27, in the Orange County All-Star Classic.
Thirty Student-Athletes Honored on National Signing Day
JSerra led the way with 14 college signees on National Signing Day. San Juan Hills and St. Margaret’s were not far behind with nine student-athletes signed, and Saddleback Valley Christian added three signees.
San Juan Hills Hires Rob Frith as Football Coach
Frith took over the reins of the Stallions football program after seven-year head coach Aaron Flowers resigned. In the fall, the Stallions won their first league title since 2013, only their second in school history.
JSerra Girls Soccer Wins Back-to-Back CIF-SS Titles
The Lions avenged their loss in Trinity League play with a win over Santa Margarita, 1-0, to clinch their second consecutive CIF-SS title. Isabella D’Aquila scored the goal, and goalkeeper Ryan Campbell posted the shutout.
Dante Pettis Selected in NFL Draft
JSerra alum Dante Pettis was selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the second round of the NFL Draft. Pettis, a wide receiver from the University of Washington, was the first JSerra alum ever selected in the NFL Draft.
St. Margaret’s Sweeps County Lacrosse Titles
The Tartans boys and girls lacrosse teams completed the Orange County double when the St. Margaret’s boys defeated Foothill, 12-11 in double overtime, and the St. Margaret’s girls beat Mater Dei, 14-8. The Tartans girls also went on to win the CIF-SS title.
Isabella D’Aquila Named National Player of the Year
The JSerra girls soccer forward scored 39 goals and added 15 assists in her junior season and was recognized as the Gatorade California State Player of the Year and National Player of the Year. D’Aquila is a senior committed to Santa Clara and also played with the USA U17 national team this summer.
949 Volleyball Club Wins Two Golds at Junior Nationals
The boys 18-and-under and 13-and-under teams in the San Juan Capistrano-based 949 Volleyball Club dominated their way to championships at the Junior Nationals in Phoenix. The 18U team became the first club to win four straight golds in progressive age groups, and the 13U team went a perfect 9-0 with seven sweeps.
Cody Schrier Earns MVP at 15U Baseball World Cup
JSerra sophomore Cody Schrier was named tournament MVP and earned awards for most runs scored and highest batting average for Team USA at the 15U WBSC World Cup in Panama on Aug. 20.
Dante Pettis Scores in NFL Debut
Pettis scored his first NFL touchdown on his first NFL catch in his first NFL game as the 49ers took on the Vikings in Minnesota. Pettis made two receptions for 61 yards as San Francisco lost, 24-16.
CVC Football Wins First 11-Man League Title Since 2000
The Capistrano Valley Christian football team went undefeated in the Academy League (4-0) to clinch its first league title since its 2010 eight-man Express League title and first 11-man league title since 2000. The Eagles’ high-scoring offense led the team to a 9-2 record on the season.
St. Margaret’s Sweeps CIF-SS Cross Country Titles
The Tartans boys and girls cross country teams both ran to Division 5 titles in Riverside on Nov. 17. It was the first-ever sweep for the program and the first girls title in school history. Jackson Adelman won the individual Division 5 title for the boys team, which went on to win the State Division 5 title the next weekend in Fresno.
Anthony Grover Wins Back-to-Back State Titles
JSerra’s Grover, a junior, defended his State cross country title with a repeat win for the State Division 4 individual championship. Grover ran a time of 15:21 to beat the field.
Cameron Steele Wins Baja 1000
After 47 years of family racing in Baja California, Steele won his and his family’s first Baja 100. Steele, who is based out of Baja HQ in San Juan Capistrano, won the prestigious desert off-road race in a time of 16 hours, 24 minutes and two seconds.
San Juan Hills, JSerra Football Sign Seven to Colleges
Sean Rhyan of San Juan Hills, No. 1 lineman in California, signed with UCLA, and JSerra’s leading receiver, Munir McClain, signed with USC to highlight the early period National Signing Day on Dec. 19. San Juan Hills’ Case Ostrom and JSerra teammates Caden Bell, Etu Moala, Calvin Mouisset, Shawn Nielsen and Grant Ristoff also signed.