The week did not start too promisingly for Aaron Acton of Fullerton High School, one of two quarterbacks Indian Coach Martin Luczaj was trying to assess before Thursday's season opener against Anaheim.
Practices had been mediocre. Acton was disappointed with himself. He told friends he doubted he would be starting.
But Luczaj gave him the chance and Acton responded by leading the Indians to a 17-7 victory over Anaheim in Glover Stadium. The senior completed 8 of 16 passes for 134 yards.
"I had troubles in practice this week," Acton said after the victory. "I wasn't throwing well. We weren't intense and it was my fault for not motivating them."
He pushed off his helmet to expose a big, sweaty grin, and added, "But I got relaxed tonight and the team was very disciplined, and we proceeded to win."
It took the Indian offense some time to become effective Thursday. Fullerton advanced to Anaheim's 16-yard line on its first possession, but faltered when Acton gained just a yard on a fourth-and-three.
Fullerton's next possession was a similar exercise in frustration. The Indians moved 78 yards, but had to settle for Tom Tepe's 37-yard field goal after a 25-yard touchdown pass play from Acton to Steve Pearson was called back on an illegal motion penalty.
Early in the second quarter, Anaheim benefited from a 25-yard kickoff runback by Steve Ybarra and a late hit penalty on Fullerton, which combined to give the Colonists the ball at their own 47. Seven plays later quarterback, Joaquin Garcia completed a 40-yard pass to Robert Ferrington, and with Robert Aldaz' extra point kick, the Colonists led, 7-3.
The second half was dominated by the Indians. Darrell Corbin, a junior running back who gained 106 yards in 15 carries, scored Fullerton's first touchdown with 7:56 left in the third quarter when he slipped around the right corner on an eight-yard run.
Anaheim lost the ball for the second time after an earlier interception by Indian Steve DePhillips--and lost its best chance to come back when Ernest Johnston, who had rushed for 84 yards in 17 carries, fumbled with about eight minutes left. Brett Reuter recovered for Fullerton on Anaheim's 24-yard line. Three plays later, Ray Harrell scored on a two-yard run.
Did Acton's role in the Indians' sixth straight victory against Anaheim redeem him in Luczaj's eyes? "I think so," Luczaj said. "I was very pleased with our passing game . . . He played very well. But it's a long season."