In California, it’s not always the top quarterback recruit who puts up the biggest numbers. In 2018, Folsom three-star QB Kaiden Bennett threw for 4,254 yards and 62 touchdowns before committing to Boise State. The next year, four-star Ethan Garbers eclipsed the 5,000-yard mark and passed for 71 touchdowns on Corona Del Mar (Newport Beach, Calif.). He received a dozen offers, but lagged below several other four-star prospects around the nation, many of whom received 20 or more.

But in the Trinity League, the passing leaders tend to be the most prominent quarterbacks. In 2018 and 2019, it was future Heisman winner Bryce Young and fellow five-star recruit D.J. Uiagalelei who led the prestigious southern California league in passing yards. Over the two years prior, five-star QB J.T. Daniels was in pole position.

That was less so the case in 2021, when three-star Orange Lutheran quarterback Logan Gonzalez was arguably the most productive Trinity League quarterback. Gonzalez’s 3,975 passing yards was second-most in California, and he led the Trinity League in yardage and passing touchdowns (47).

Despite the performances as he helped Orange Lutheran win the CIF-SS Div. 2 championship, Gonzalez only received two offers. He signed with Portland State on National Signing Day in early February.

“Portland State was my first offer, so always had a spot for them,” Gonzalez said. “When I went up there I just fell in love with it. … I had a really good connection with the coaches, so I figured that it was the right place.”

Gonzalez largely held his own against the Goliaths of California high school football, totaling 423 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions between Orange Lutheran’s 49-25 loss to No. 7 St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.) and 55-16 loss to national champion Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.).

Those numbers are more impressive when put into perspective: St. John Bosco held six of its 12 opponents to 12 points or fewer, while Mater Dei allowed more than 16 points to only Bosco and No. 6 Servite (Anaheim, Calif.).

“The biggest thing is just taking what they give you. Don’t try to be the hero all the time,” Gonzalez said. “Take the little flat routes, take the little out routes, hit the check down. All that stuff will add up.”

He said Servite was the toughest team he faced, and the numbers reflected this as two of his seven interceptions on the season came against the Friars.

“Their D-line — they’re just so fast, so physical, and they’re always making plays in the backfield, causing us to get rid of the ball quick,” Gonzalez said.

Dominant defenses are a cornerstone of every top Trinity League team. For every 50-point game, there is a defensive effort like Mater Dei holding Duncanville (Texas) to three points or Servite limiting Mission Viejo (Calif.) to seven. Oftentimes, the explosive offensive games and stonewall defensive performances are the same night.

Gonzalez improved himself by workout out with local professional and collegiate athletes such as New Orleans Saints RB Dwayne Washington, New York Giants running back Elijhaa Penny and Boise State wide receiver Khalil Shakir.

“Every rep they take is just 100%, and you don’t always see that at the high school level,” Gonzalez said. “People taking reps off because they’re tired — these guys never take any reps off. “

He said working out with them and his experience from starting for three years helped him boost his numbers and compete against the Trinity League defenses. With quarterbacks at Mater Dei and St. John Bosco so young — Elijah Brown is an up-and-coming star but is still a sophomore, while the Braves platooned junior Katin Houser and sophomore Pierce Clarkson — the Orange Lutheran senior had a chance to put his three seasons on varsity to good use.

“You can’t go in there not watching any film and expect to go and dominate them with athletic ability. It’s never going to happen,” Gonzalez said. “You gotta be smarter than them and that’s going to be your way if you want to take them down. Lots of film throughout the week and understanding what they’re going to do before they do it.”

That’s just advice. Gonzalez unfortunately cannot answer the question on how to take down the Trinity League powerhouses. But there are few players who can answer that, and the future Portland State quarterback did as well as most in his years at Orange Lutheran.