El Modena vs. Esperanza
The records--El Modena (0-1), Esperanza (1-0).
The site--Bradford Stadium (Valencia H.S.)
El Modena update--The Vanguards, who have a new coach in Bill Backstrom and only two returning starters, were shocked in their opener by Edison last week, 35-0. And things won't be getting much easier. After playing Esperanza, the Vanguards meet Pacifica and El Toro in their remaining nonleague games. Tonight, the Vanguards must develop a running game and give quarterback Brady Whittingham time to pass. Although El Modena gave up 35 points last week, its defense is still expected to be one of the better ones in the county. A plus for El Modena tonight is that it has had a week to review the mistakes it made against Edison.
Esperanza update--The Aztecs opened the season by beating Marina last week, 17-0, in the debut of Coach Gary Meek, who seems to have picked up where former Coach Pete Yoder left off. The Aztecs had a balanced attack against Marina: quarterback Mike Moneymaker was 8 of 13 passing for 171 yards and tailback Mike Miscione picked up 115 yards in 24 carries. The Aztecs have another big offensive line, averaging 230 pounds. The defense was typically tough in shutting out the Vikings.
Key to the game--El Modena's defense must recover from last week and control Esperanza's balanced attack. Keying on either Miscione or Moneymaker won't be enough--the Vanguards must keep both in check and control the Aztecs at the line of scrimmage. That won't be easy, considering how Esperanza dominated Marina.
Consensus--Esperanza has an edge because it won its opener and is the more confident team. El Modena will probably play better than it did last week, but look for the Aztecs to score their first victory ever over the Vanguards.
Servite vs. Marina
The records--Servite (1-0), Marina (0-1)
The site--Westminster High School
Marina--Quarterback Rick Vanderriet had a forgettable opening game as Marina lost to Esperanza, 17-0. Vanderriet fumbled his first snap, completed none of his eight passes and threw one interception. Marina's defense was stung both in the air and on the ground. Esperanza quarterback Mike Moneymaker threw for 171 yards and 2 touchdowns, and running back Mike Miscione rushed for 115 yards. The one relatively bright spot for Marina is that it managed to hold Esperanza scoreless in the second half.
Servite--It was only one game, but Derek Brown's performance in Servite's season-opening 28-21 victory over Colton may have established him as one of the county's top backs. Brown, a sophomore, gained 150 yards in just 15 carries and scored the game's deciding touchdown on a 45-yard run with 10:52 left. He later had a 62-yard touchdown run called back because of a penalty. The game also marked the debut of junior quarterback Jason Messersmith, who was 7 for 13 for 143 yards.
Key to the game--Vanderriet, who threw for 1,024 yards last season, will have to have a better game. It almost figures he will after last week's performance. But the key will be Marina's defense and if it can contain Servite's emerging stars, Brown and Messersmith.
Consensus--Don't expect any miracles. Brown and Messersmith figure to have big games, and Servite figures to win.
Fountain Valley vs. El Toro
The records--Fountain Valley (0-1), El Toro (1-0).
The site--Mission Viejo High School
Fountain Valley update--The Barons lost to Mater Dei, 26-14, last week for the first time in four years and the schedule doesn't get any easier. After El Toro tonight, Fountain Valley meets Mission Viejo, Servite and Long Beach Poly in its remaining nonleague games. The Barons' five nonleague opponents were a combined 48-14-2 last season. Despite the loss last week, Coach Mike Milner was encouraged. "We're young and we're going to make mistakes," he said. "But we're going to get better." Sophomore quarterback Dave Henigan looked promising in his varsity debut by completing 9 of 18 pass attempts for 81 yards.
El Toro update--The Chargers had a bye last week after defeating Whitehall High of Allentown, Pa., 20-19, in their opener. Quarterback Bret Johnson completed 18 of 36 attempts for 238 yards and 2 touchdowns. He rallied El Toro for two scores in the final quarter. Wide receiver Scott Miller leads county receivers with 11 receptions for 180 yards. "Bret is the best quarterback in the county," Milner said. Defensively, linebacker Scott Ross and tackle Scott Spalding are El Toro's top players.
Key to the game--Fountain Valley must avoid the mistakes it made against Mater Dei or it could be in for a long night. The Baron secondary will be tested early and often by Johnson. El Toro visited Gettysburg, the Empire State Building, the White House and Ford's Theatre on its East Coast trip and Coach Bob Johnson is hoping his players will be ready to play a football game after playing tourists for nine days.
Consensus--El Toro has a veteran offense that will be too much for an inexperienced Fountain Valley team to handle at this stage of the season. El Toro should win by three touchdowns.