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October 11, 2006This Thursday, the Orange Lutheran Lancers and Servite Friars will battle in the first Trinity League game ever.
Sitting at 5-0 this season, the Lancers have been led by quarterback, and USC commitment, Aaron Corp. Passing for 908 yards and seven touchdowns, Corp's dual-threat of accuracy and athleticism will come head-to-head with the destructive power of fellow future Trojan, Chris Galippo.
It's a match-up that both schools have had circled on their calendars for quite sometime.
"Over the summer, when our coaches were putting in the playbook, they'd throw in a few Servite highlights during film review," said Corp, who's also run for 402 yards and four touchdowns this season. "This was during the middle of summer, so I think this is a game we've been looking forward to for a long time.
"I actually saw Chris at the SC game last week, but he didn't say much about our match up. I actually went to Servite's game against St. Augustine, so I congratulated him on that win."
While the Trinity League has yet to crown a champion or play its first game, Thursday's contest could mark the beginning of CIF's newest rivalry.
"The schools are close, and both teams are going to be year-in-and-year-out, so that kind of creates a natural rivalry," said Corp.
His counterpart in black agrees, expanding on the duality of playing against an opponent and future teammate.
"Aaron is a cool guy, and we have a lot of respect for each other," said Galippo, who's rated the nation's No. 2 linebacker. "He and Mike (Reardon) are two really good players, plus they're future teammates. This isn't a heated type of rivalry, but that's not going to stop me from looking out for my Friars first."
While Servite has seen its struggles this season, Lutheran has dominated its opponents, averaging almost 500 yards a game on offense. Corp alone has conributed 1,300 yards of the Lancers 2,400 yards of total offense in five games.
However, Galippo and the Friars are coming off a week where they held four-star quarterback and UCLA commit, Chris Forcier to only 67 yards rushing on 18 carries and 158 yards passing on 31 attempts.
"You have to make those guys throw," said Galippo. "It's extremely difficult to contain them though. Normally, you can get pressure on a quarterback and that will take him out of the passing game. But with guys like Corp and Forcier, even if you can get pressure on them, they can get out of the pocket.
"It's harder to get those guys out of rhythm because they can keep making plays regardless of the pass rush. We did a good job against Forcier because we knew he couldn't win the game running the ball. He had two or three big runs for first downs, but eventually you have to execute all the way down the field. You also have to run the ball with someone other than your quarterback to be successful."
"There's only so much you can do to slow down a guy like that," said Corp. "I just have to know where he is on the field at all times. He's going to make plays, but the goal is to lessen the amount."
Thursday's match-up of Lancers versus Friars is also a match-up of Trojans versus Trojans. Including Corp and Galippo, USC has five committed players representing both rosters. While junior D.J. Shoemate is not expected to play for the Friars because of a foot injury, plenty of stars will shine at Cal State Fullerton University Thursday night.
"A lot of people don't realize how big Mike actually is," said Corp of the 6-foot-6, 255-pound four-star standout. "On top of that, he's really, really quick for his size. That allows us to put pressure on the quarterback without having to blitz a whole lot. Seeing him go against Matt Kalil is going to be fun to watch."
So far, the Lancers' offense has made life easy for Reardon and the Lutheran defense. Putting pressure on opposing teams to score early, the Lancers have racked up 221 points in five games. That's 31 points more than any other team in the league.
"We've been doing well, and I think our whole team is clicking together," said Corp. "On offense, we're averaging more than 40 points a game.
"The defense has also stepped up in key situations, which helped us in our big win over Los Alamitos. But none of that matters anymore. We're starting our Trinity League schedule now, and this may be the toughest league in California."
The Friars maintain a similar attitude coming into this week's game.
"We talk about the preseason, the season and the post-season at Servite," said Galippo. "The season starts this week against Orange Lutheran. Our wins, losses, shutouts and everything else mean nothing at this point. Now, every game counts for a championship."
Stay tuned to USCFootball.com for more on the Servite, Orange Lutheran showdown this week.