Sone Aupiu makes sure St. Anthony football gets past Marina

WESTMINSTER — Sone Aupiu was nearly unstoppable again for St. Anthony, which wrapped the nonleague portion of its first season under Raul Lara with its third successive victory.

The Saints’ 43-27 triumph Friday night over Marina at Westminster High was not without problems — too many dropped passes, far too many penalties, a defensive effort that displeased Lara — but none of them mattered, ultimately, because their extraordinary running back can do special things. And he was, again, special.

One week after running for 356 yards and scoring four touchdowns in a victory at St. Pius X-St. Matthias, Aupiu blistered the Vikings’ defense for 268 yards and four more scores on the ground, plus two receptions for a game-best 54 yards.

He made the key plays in the Saints’ opening drive, which set a tone for the game, and — more important — as Marina was taking command at the start of the second half, driving for a tying touchdown and coming close to going ahead after a nice return on a short punt set them up just outside the red zone.

St. Anthony (3-3) dodged that one, applied heavy pressure on Vikings quarterback Brock Beaver and strong coverage on receiver Aidan O’Callaghan, who still came close to making miraculous end-zone catches on first, second and fourth down.

Then Aupiu, a bruising back with good speed and deceptively devastating moves — much of it product of an extensive rugby background — was off and gone, breaking tackles and gliding into open space on an 85-yard sprint that restored the Saints’ lead and killed whatever momentum the home team had built. He added two more fourth-quarter touchdowns, and that was that.

“Sone is the guy,” Lara said afterward. “When it becomes crunch time, I’m pretty sure I’m going with Sone for awhile and get everything else settled down.”

There’s still much to be settled as the Saints, No. 10 in the Press-Telegram rankings, look ahead to next week’s Del Rey League opener against La Salle. Lara, who as head coach won five CIF Southern Section championships at Long Beach Poly, didn’t take over until July, not enough time to create a foundation that would enable his small, in many places inexperienced roster to flourish.

There has been significant improvement each week as confidence grows, but Aupiu’s heroics only mask the shortcomings. The passing game remains hit and miss — at least a half-dozen catchable balls fell to the turf, “and if we catch them balls, it’s a different game,” Lara said — and he was not pleased with his defense’s consistency, calling it “one of the poorest defensive performances we’ve had.”

St. Anthony was flagged 14 times for 140 yards, including three personal fouls, pass interference on both sides of the ball, a face mask and three holding calls, two of those costing Aupiu an additional 24 yards. Marina’s touchdown right before halftime, a 32-yard Beaver-to-Bo Green that narrow its deficit to eight points, was aided by pass-interference and roughing-the-passer penalties. And the Vikings closed within nine points midway through the fourth quarter, on a 18-yard Dominic Harvery reception, after a face-mask call provided a first down after a third-and-12 sack.

“The penalties, the personal stuff, that’s killing us,” Lara said. “That’s the stuff we’ve got to clean up, especially if you play a much better-disciplined team. We’ve got a ways to go.

“I’m just glad that we got the win, preseason is over for us, .500 — not bad for the first year — and now here we got in league, and we’ll see what the league is all about. I think we’re as ready as we can be for the time that I’ve had with them.”

Marina (1-4), which has surrendered at least 43 points in three of its losses, was effective in spurts behind Beaver and running back Anthony Fabian. Fabian ran for 101 yards on 16 carries, most of it on a 56-yard touchdown spurt on the Vikings’ second offensive play, and Beaver (13 of 24 for 150 yards and three TDs) completed his first six second-half throws for 69 yards and an O’Callaghan touchdown (plus a 2-point pass to Fabian that made it 21-21 four minutes out of halftime.

The Vikings had no answer for Aupiu, who ran for double digits on eight of his 24 carries — including an easy-as-can-be 20-yard score in the second quarter (three plays after a Tyler Henry interception) and a 40-yard burst on the following drive, which led to Conor Hochberg’s 18-yard TD pass to Darius Davis for a 21-7 lead. Aupiu repeatedly broke multiple tackles and extended plays.

“It’s all up to my linemen,” said Aupiu, who has topped 100 yards four tines and has 1,021 this season after gaining 624 on successive Friday nights. “I’ve been thankful for them. They’ve been pounding the opposing teams, and it keeps working….. It’s the little things that happen on the field, and it’s unexpected. I just try to stay on my feet, and I do the rest.”

Said Lara: “If the offensive line does everything they’re supposed to, Sone gets out into that open field, and once he’s out in the open field, that rugby mentality comes in, where he’s hard to bring down.”

Marina coach Jeff Turley, who was Lara’s defensive coordinator during his 13-year tenure in charge at Poly, wasn’t happy with his team’s consistency on either side of the ball.

“I don’t know what’s going on.” he said. “It’s tough. It’s tough. I didn’t expect a season like this. We’ve still got {Big 4) league, we’ve still got time to wake up and get the job done, but we’re running out of time. I told the kids before: ‘You don’t block, you don’t tackle, you don’t win.’ And we didn’t do that tonight.”

The Vikings looked their best early in the second half, using a wildcat, with snaps to Fabian on six plays, the last a 28-yard run called back for holding, to set up four Beaver passes, the last three to O’Callaghan for 10, 22 and the 13-yard TD to tie the score. Three major penalties killed St. Anthony’s next drive, and Green returned Hochberg’s 18-yard punt 13 yards to the Saints 23. Marina was at the 10 three plays later, then the 15 after a delay-of-game penalty, but four missed passes ended that.

And then Aupiu went on his 85-yard run.

“He’s good,” said Turley, whose teams went 17-4 the previous two seasons, winning the Division 11 championship in 2019. “To stop their team, we had to stop him, and we didn’t do it.”

Hochberg finished 11 of 23 passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns, the first to Kweku Claybrook on the opening drive — all but two of his completions were before halftime — and the Saints amassed 468 total yards after gaining 553 against St. Pius X-St. Matthias.

Newport Harbor girls volleyball earns ‘huge win’ over Edison in Wave League

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HUNTINGTON BEACH — In a battle between the top two teams in the Wave League girls volleyball standings, Newport Harbor used 18 service aces to defeat Edison in four sets, 25-5, 12-25, 25-14, 25-16, on Thursday at Edison High School.

The victory gave the Sailors (15-5, 3-0), who are ranked No. 1 in CIF-SS Division 3, sole possession of first place in the standings. The Chargers, who are ranked No. 9 in Division 3, dropped to 2-1 in league and 14-14 overall.

Quinn Perry led the Sailors with 14 kills while Anne O’Brien added nine kills.

“It’s a huge win,” Sailors coach Andrew Mabry said. “The girls did a really good job tonight, played very aggressive in a tough environment, and I thought we did a good job of handling the situation tonight.”

Both teams made timely scoring runs during the match.

In the first set, Newport Harbor used a 7-0 run to build an 8-2 lead, due mostly to strong serving from Laine Briggs, who had four service aces. The Sailors closed opening the set with a 14-1 run.

Edison matched Newport Harbor’s toughness from the serving line in set two. Maya Shihadeh’s serving helped her team build a 4-0 lead that eventually grew to a 16-6 lead. The Sailors got no closer than six, as the Chargers closed the set on an 8-1 run to knot the match at 1-1.

Newport Harbor led 9-5 in set three when it won a long rally and then registered an ace on the next point to go up 11-5. The Sailors used an 8-2 run to eventually run away with the set and retake control of the match.

After conceding the first points of set four, Newport Harbor reeled off 14 of the next 19 points to go up 14-6. The Chargers were never able to put any pressure on the Sailors after that. Timely kills from Perry and O’Brien and strong serving helped Newport Harbor take the set and the match.

“We have to pass the ball better to actually have a better offense,” Edison co-coach Trent Jackson said. “We got to fight a little harder in hitter coverage and being scrappy.”

Sammy Wood led Edison in kills with eight while Summer Witherby and Adia McCown had six and five kills, respectively.

The two teams will meet again on Oct. 12 at Newport Harbor.

Many migrants staying in US even as expulsion flights rise


DEL RIO, Texas (AP) — Three hours after being freed from a giant migrant camp under an international bridge, Mackenson Veillard stood outside a gas station and took stock of his sudden good fortune as he and his pregnant wife waited for a Greyhound bus to take them to a cousin in San Antonio.

The couple camped with thousands for a week under the bridge in Del Rio, Texas, sleeping on concrete and getting by on bread and bottled water.

“I felt so stressed,” Veillard, 25, said this week. “But now, I feel better. It’s like I’m starting a new life.”

Many Haitian migrants in Del Rio are being released in the United States, according to two U.S. officials, undercutting the Biden administration’s public statements that the thousands in the camp faced immediate expulsion to Haiti.

Haitians have been freed on a “very, very large scale” in recent days, one official said Tuesday. The official, who was not authorized to discuss the matter and thus spoke on condition of anonymity, put the figure in the thousands.

Many have been released with notices to appear at an immigration office within 60 days, an outcome that requires less processing time from Border Patrol agents than ordering an appearance in immigration court and points to the speed at which authorities are moving.

The releases come despite a massive effort to expel Haitians on flights under pandemic-related authority that denies migrants a chance to seek asylum. A third U.S. official not authorized to discuss operations said there were seven daily flights to Haiti planned starting Wednesday.

Ten flights arrived in Haiti from Sunday to Tuesday in planes designed for 135 passengers, according to Haitian officials, who didn’t provide a complete count but said six of those flights carried 713 migrants combined.

The camp held more than 14,000 people over the weekend, according to some estimates. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, during a visit Tuesday to Del Rio, said the county’s top official told him the most recent tally was about 8,600 migrants. U.S. authorities have declined to say how many have been released in the U.S. in recent days.

The Homeland Security Department has been busing Haitians from Del Rio, a town of 35,000 people, to El Paso, Laredo and the Rio Grande Valley along the Texas border, and this week added flights to Tucson, Arizona, the official said. They are processed by the Border Patrol at those locations.

Criteria for deciding who is flown to Haiti and who is released in the U.S. are a mystery, but two officials said single adults were a priority. If previous handling of asylum-seekers is any guide, the administration is more likely to release those deemed vulnerable, including pregnant women, families with young children and those with medical issues.

The Biden administration exempts unaccompanied children from expulsion flights on humanitarian grounds.

The system is a “black box,” said Wade McMullen, an attorney with Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, who was in Del Rio. “Right now, we have no official access to understand what processes are underway, what protections are being provided for the migrants.”

On Wednesday, more than 300 migrants had been dropped off in Border Patrol vans by early afternoon at a welcome center staffed by the Val Verde Border Humanitarian Coalition. They waited for buses to Houston, a springboard to final destinations in the U.S. Many were required to wear ankle monitors, used to ensure they obey instructions to report to immigration authorities.

“Hello. How are you?” volunteer Lupita De La Paz greeted them in Spanish. “We will help you. You have arrived in Del Rio, Texas. It’s a small town. There are not many options. We will help you get to another place.”

Rabbiatu Yunusah, 34, waited with her 3-year-old daughter Laila, was headed to settle with an uncle in Huntsville, Alabama. She felt “very happy to be in this country, to be free.”

Jimy Fenelon, 25, and his partner, Elyrose Prophete, who is eight months pregnant, left the camp Tuesday and were headed to Florida to stay with an uncle.

“Everyone has their luck. Some didn’t have luck to get here.” Fenelon said.

Accounts of wide-scale releases — some observed in Del Rio by Associated Press journalists — are at odds with statements Monday by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who traveled to Del Rio to promise swift action.

“If you come to the United States illegally, you will be returned, your journey will not succeed, and you will be endangering your life and your family’s life,” he said at a news conference.

Homeland Security, asked to comment on releases in the United States, said Wednesday that migrants who are not immediately expelled to Haiti may be detained or released with a notice to appear in immigration court or report to an immigration office, depending on available custody space.

“The Biden Administration has reiterated that our borders are not open, and people should not make the dangerous journey,” the department said in a statement. “Individuals and families are subject to border restrictions, including expulsion.”

Meanwhile, Mexico has begun busing and flying Haitian migrants away from the U.S. border, signaling a new level of support for the United States as the camp presented President Joe Biden with a humanitarian and increasingly political challenge.

The White House is facing sharp bipartisan condemnation. Republicans say Biden administration policies led Haitians to believe they would get asylum. Democrats are expressing outrage after images went viral this week of Border Patrol agents on horseback using aggressive tactics against the migrants.

Immigrants have described a screening process at the camp where people were given colored tickets for four categories: single men; single women; pregnant women; and families with young children, McMullen said. The vast majority of immigrants he and other advocates have interviewed and who have been released into the U.S. have been families with young children and pregnant women.

Wilgens Jean and his wife, Junia Michel, waited in Del Rio this week for relatives to send the $439 in bus fare to get to Springfield, Ohio, where Jean’s brother lives. Michel, who is pregnant, huddled under the little shade the parking lot had to offer from the brutal heat. Her only request was for sunscreen that she softly rubbed on her pregnant belly.

On the concrete in front of them lay two backpacks and a black garbage bag which held everything the couple owns. The pair left in Haiti in April and were in the Del Rio camp for five days. Jean said because his wife is expecting, they were released from the camp on Monday.

“I entered by crossing the river,” Jean said. “Immigration gave me a ticket.”

After an initial stay with family in San Antonio, Veillard eventually hopes to get to New York City to live with his sister. He will take any job he can find to support his growing family.

Veillard and his wife left Haiti four years ago and had been living in Brazil until they began their journey to the United States in June, much of it on foot.

“I don’t know how I’m going to feel tomorrow but now I feel lucky,” he said.


Spagat reported from San Diego. Associated Press writers Maria Verza in Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, Danica Coto in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Evens Sanon from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, contributed to this report.


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2 sentenced to community service for hate crime targeting veteran in O.C.

SANTA ANA — Two men pleaded guilty Tuesday and were immediately sentenced to more than 100 hours of community service for a hate crime in Rancho Santa Margarita against an Army veteran three years ago.

Nicholas Lloyd Reynolds, 23, and Coty Nebenzahl, 23, both pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of violation of civil rights with violent injury, according to court records.

The two were at a McDonald’s restaurant at 30672 Santa Margarita Parkway on April 12, 2018, when they got into a verbal altercation with the victim, according to court records.

Reynolds hollered a racist epithet for Blacks even though the victim was of Middle Eastern heritage and also spit at him, according to court records.

At first when the two drove by, the victim, who was wearing an Army shirt and hat, thought the defendants were being friendly, but instead they yelled racial epithets and an expletive regarding the U.S. Army, according to court records. When the victim said he was not Black they told him to “go back” to an Arabic country, according to court records.

Reynolds was placed on one year of formal probation and sentenced to 150 hours of community service. Nebenzahl was sentenced to 140 hours of community service and 10 days of Caltrans work.

Shooting at Russian university leaves 6 dead, 28 hurt


MOSCOW (AP) — A student opened fire Monday at a university in Russia, leaving six people dead and 28 hurt before being shot by police and detained, officials said. Other students and staff locked themselves in rooms during the attack and video on Russian news sites showed some students jumping out of second-story windows.

Beyond saying that he was a student, Russian authorities offered no further information on his identity or a possible motive.

In some footage, a black-clad helmeted figure could be seen striding on a sidewalk at Perm State University, cradling a long-barreled weapon. Russia’s Investigative Committee, the country’s top body for criminal probes, said the gunman fired a smoothbore hunting weapon. That could indicate he used a shotgun.

The university, which has 12,000 students, said about 3,000 people were on campus at the time. The school is in Perm, a city of 1 million residents located 1,100 kilometers (700 miles) east of Moscow.

The Investigative Committee said six people were killed, revising down its earlier figure of eight dead. No explanation was given for the change. It said 28 people were injured and some of them were hospitalized. The Health Ministry said 19 of them were shot; it was not clear how the others were injured.

In a video released by the Interior Ministry, a witness whose name was not given said he saw the man outside after shooting two people and that he appeared to be wearing a bulletproof vest.

A traffic police unit was the first to reach the scene and the suspect opened fire on them, according to the Interior Ministry. He was wounded when police returned fire and then was disarmed. The gunman also had a knife, the ministry said.

One traffic officer said people rushed out of the university building as gunshots were heard.

“I entered the building and saw an armed young man walking down the stairs. I shouted at him ‘Drop it!’” That’s when he pointed the gun at me and fired. At that point I used my gun,” officer Konstantin Kalinin said in the ministry video.

“I feel shock, disdain and anger,” university student Olga Kechatova said later at a makeshift memorial outside the university. “People who study with me at the university suffered and died for nothing.”

Although firearms laws are strict in Russia, many people obtain permits for hunting. News reports cited officials as saying the suspect had a permit for a pump-action shotgun, although it was not clear if that was for the weapon used.

School shootings are infrequent in Russia, but the Perm attack was the third such shooting in recent years. In May, a gunman opened fire at a school in the city of Kazan, killing seven students and two teachers with a registered weapon. A student at a college in Russia-annexed Crimea killed 20 students and himself in 2018.

After the Kazan shooting, President Vladimir Putin called on the national guard to tighten gun regulations. Russia then passed a law raising the minimum gun purchase age from 18 to 21.

The Russian leader offered his condolences on Monday.

“It is a tremendous tragedy, not only for the families who lost their children but for the entire country,” Putin said.