Head coach Troy Thomas continues to try and rebuild the Servite football program that he took to six straight Trinity League titles. Included in Thomas’s first stint at Servite were two CIF-Southern Section titles (2009, 2010) and a state championship in 2009. Thomas led the program from 2005 to 2012 and came back in 2018.
His first team went 4-5, but Thomas as the Friars have gone 7-4 and 4-2 in last year’s shortened spring season. There is a tremendous amount of talent at Servite, especially on offense where five-star wide receiver Tetairoa McMillan is probably the best athlete in the state of California.
The Friars play in the uber-difficult Trinity League and haven’t beaten powers Mater Dei and St. John Bosco in a number of years. That could change in 2021 despite the loss of eight players from last year’s 4-2 squad. CB Noah Avinger (San Diego State), S Jack Kane (Oregon State), DB Nick Jako (Davidson), and DL Ben Florentine (Wyoming) are all gone from a defense that gave up 94 points in six games in the spring.
The Servite offense returns a ton of talent but did lose two offensive linemen in Bryce Leos (Colby) Shancco Matautia (New Mexico) and running back Kyle Bandy (University of LaVerne). The Friars have the makings of one of the best offenses in the Trinity League after averaging 41.7 points per game in the spring.
The Friars offense is loaded in 2021. It all starts with Arizona commit Noah Fifita at quarterback. The 5-10, 180-pound Fifita is one of California’s top dual-threat quarterbacks and he is what makes Servite go.
On the outside, Fifita’s top target is the 6-3, 185-pound McMillan. In addition to his football skills, McMillan is also one of the best volleyball players in California. He has outstanding leaping ability and is more than a handful for even the best defensive backs in the state. He had six catches for 107 yards and a touchdown against Mater Dei in the spring. His numbers against St. John Bosco were even better – 9 catches, 155 yards, and 1 TD. McMillan, who was named Orange County’s Boys Athlete of the Year, has over two dozen offers and will make his commitment from among Arizona, Oregon, and USC.
There is also 6-5, 215-pound Keyan Burnett, who projects as a tight end at the next level. Like Fifita, Burnett is committed to Arizona. The Friars will reload on the offensive line, but there are no reasons why Servite cannot go toe-to-toe on offense with anyone in the Trinity League.
Thomas, who is 91-36 during his two stints at Servite, looks to build on a defense that allowed a shade over 15 points per game in the spring. Taking out the two losses last season to St. John Bosco and Mater Dei, the Friars allowed just 32 points in their other four games.
The Servite defense begins with Boise State commit Mason Graham. The 6-3, 280-pound Graham is the leader of the Friars defensive line. Losing Avinger and Jako hurts in the secondary, but the Friars return two very good linebackers. Maxx Silao is a 6-1, 215-pound senior prospect, and Jacob Manu is a 5-11, 210-pounder who was a first-team All-Trinity selection during the spring. Manu holds two Ivy League offers, one from Dartmouth and one from Penn.
Servite hasn’t won a Trinity League title since Thomas’s first run at the school. The Friars captured six straight league championships in the late 2000s but haven’t really been a threat since. After the spring’s 4-2 campaign and close losses to Mater Dei and St. John Bosco, Thomas has his best opportunity to win the Trinity League since his last title in 2011.
The schedule is by no means a cakewalk, but it will prove the Friars belong in the same conversation with the likes of Mater Dei and St. John Bosco. The Friars will begin the season with perennial power Mission Viejo followed by a date with another top California program, Sierra Canyon.
The Trinity League schedule gets underway at the end of September with a Thursday night game against Orange Lutheran. Games at Mater Dei on Oct. 23 and at St. John Bosco the following weekend will likely determine the Trinity League champion. With a strong 2022 class, this may be Thomas’s chance to upend the league powers that be.