By Dan Arritt     10/10/2017

Mater Dei defensive end Mase Funa was second on the team with 4 1/2 sacks during the rugged nonleague portion of the football schedule. He caused two fumbles for the Monarchs and returned an interception for a touchdown. 

MuNir McClain caught four touchdowns in his first four games with JSerra. When he missed Game 5 with a knee injury, his older brother, Abdul-Malik, snared a touchdown in his absence. 

And quarterback Brendan Costello threw 15 touchdown passes with no interceptions through the first five games with San Clemente. 

In addition to getting off to great starts with their 5-0 teams, what else do these players have in common? 

They each transferred from Santa Margarita during the offseason. 

And let’s not overlook Connor Burke, a junior linebacker who also flew the Eagles’ coop, only to set down 2,000 miles away in in Lisle, Ill. Burke has quickly impressed his coaches and teammates at Benet Academy, a Benedictine high school located about 25 miles west of Chicago. 

He had 12 tackles in his first game with Benet on Aug. 25, and returned a fumble 24 yards for a touchdown Sept. 22. 

“I feel like California football is really, really talented,” Burke told the Chicago Tribune. “But definitely out here, the kids play really hard.” 

Santa Margarita didn’t completely miss out on the parade of transfers in, out and within the Trinity League. 

Josiah Norwood, the Freeway League offensive player of the year as a sophomore quarterback at Troy last season, transferred to Santa Margarita in February, right about the time Costello was transferring out. Norwood survived an intense competition for the starting spot over the summer and emerged No. 1 on the depth chart.  

Through the first five games, Norwood threw for 834 yards and nine touchdowns, ran for 224 yards and three scores and led the Eagles to a 4-1 mark. 

Santa Margarita opens league play against Mater Dei on Oct. 6 at Laguna Hills High School. 

In addition to Funa, the Monarchs have several other transfers they’re benefiting from this season, and one who didn’t even play the first five games. 

Keyon Ware-Hudson is a 6-foot-3, 285-pound junior who will play defensive tackle for Mater Dei. He transferred from Vista Murrieta over the summer, along with his younger brother Kyron, but had to sit out the first five games under CIF-SS transfer rules. 

Samuela Tuihalamaka, a transfer from M.L. King in Riverside, and Solomon Tuliaupupu, a transfer from Claremont, have also been key members of the Mater Dei defense, which allowed 56 points in the first five games and forced 20 turnovers. 

Orange Lutheran found its offense well-stocked with transfers, particularly at the receiver position. 

Kyle Ford came over from Servite and the junior wide receiver led the Lancers through the first five games with 36 catches for 620 yards, both tops in the Trinity League. He also scored six touchdowns. 

Cameron Gardner, who played for Mater Dei last season, was third on Orange Lutheran with 19 receptions for 217 yards, and Jojo Hawkins (Buena Park) was fourth on the team with 18 catches for 245 yards and two touchdowns. 

Titus Toler has landed at Servite after stops at Mater Dei and JSerra, and the junior helped the Friars to a 5-0 start by contributing on offense, defense and special teams. 

Sometimes, it appears, the grass is greener on the other side.