Max Redfield blocks out recruiting noise

LAS FLORES, Calif. -- There have been many thoughts swirling through Max Redfield’s mind recently, but losing isn’t one of them.

Mission Viejo (Calif.) had been accustomed to rolling through opposing teams this season. Results were often secured by halftime, and starters were often pulled before their uniforms got dirty.

On Friday night, neighboring rival Las Flores (Calif.) Tesoro provided the first true on-field test for Redfield and the No. 25 team in the ESPN 25 power rankings. When Tesoro reached the end zone on its opening drive, Mission Viejo trailed for the first time all season. The Tesoro student band erupted. The sellout crowd gasped. It was the first time all season Mission Viejo had allowed points in the opening quarter.

Yet, Redfield turned to his teammates and, with a hand gesture, asked them to keep calm. It was all under control.

“In all of our heads, we knew we’d win this game because of how hard we work and how great of a team we are,” said Redfield following a 55-32 victory. “We honestly had that confidence throughout the whole game, even when we were down. It’s really the first time we’ve been tested and had a team come out like that against us. It’s good that we bounced back and stuck together as a team.”

On the first play from scrimmage in the second half, Redfield juked his defender, raced past the safety and caught an Ian Fieber pass in stride for an 80-yard, game-tying touchdown. It was all Mission Viejo (8-0) from that point, as the Diablos outscored the Titans 41-11 in the second half.

“I was happy they finally gave me a chance,” Redfield said with a chuckle. “I love to make plays. I have a great quarterback and a great line. When the coaches give a chance like that, I have to perform.”

Redfield had more than 130 receiving yards and provided a key downfield block during an Alex Suchesk touchdown run. The 6-foot-2, 181-pound athlete added a handful of second-half tackles for a defense that made the necessary adjustments.

“We were fired up at halftime,” he said. “Our coaches kept preaching that we were going to win this game. There was no thought in anybody’s mind that we’d lose this game.”

Redfield’s thoughts have been jumbled after his Oct. 12 weekend visit to Notre Dame. Since committing to USC in July, he had made little recruiting noise. But he and fellow Trojans commit Chris Hawkins (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Rancho Cucamonga) went silent upon returning from the Midwest.

“I was kind of just in awe and trying to reflect on everything that was going on,” Redfield said of his official visit to South Bend. “Great campus, great tradition, amazing game -- it was a great weekend. ... I’m still committed to USC. I would say it’s a soft commitment. I’m trying to just think everything over and consider all the schools right now.”

Redfield said he expects fellow USC commits, including top-rated safety commit Su’a Cravens, to put a full-court press on him in the coming weeks.

“The same he’s always done,” Redfield said of Cravens. “We talk almost every day and he’s one of my close friends. I think whether I go to [USC] or not, we’ll still be friends. We talk all the time so, yeah, it’s funny.”

There no plans, Redfield said, for a return trip to South Bend, but he will be visiting another Pac-12 school.

“I’ll be taking an official to Washington probably in the next few weeks,” he said.

Redfield has had to think about a lot lately, but his concentration on Mission Viejo football is unchanged.

“We haven’t been tested this whole season,” he said. “We’ve come out and pretty much killed every team that we’ve played. It’s good that we’ve been tested like this. Now we know what we need to do moving on.”