The records--El Modena 1-2, El Toro 3-0.
The site--Mission Viejo High School.
El Modena update--The Vanguards, under first-year Coach Bill Backstrom, were routed in their opener against Edison, 35-0, and the following week by Esperanza, 28-0. El Modena rebounded last week with a 17-16 victory over Pacifica, but even that wasn't easy. The Vanguards had to rally from deficits of 7-0 and 10-7 and stop a two-point conversion attempt in the final minutes that would have given Pacifica the game. Ross Bauer, El Modena's top rusher last season, is off to a rough start as quarterback. Bauer, who missed the first game with an ankle injury, completed only 4 of 15 passes last week for 29 yards.
El Toro update--The Chargers were ranked No. 1 this week in the Orange County Sportswriters' Assn. poll after a 21-0 victory over Westminster. El Toro's big-play offense, led by quarterback Bret Johnson, scored all 21 points in the first half. Johnson threw for 2 touchdowns and 107 yards in the first half. The defense, led by tackles Scott Spalding and Cory Wayland, forced six turnovers. If the Chargers have a weakness, it's that their offense tends to let down after striking big. The Chargers were also shut out in the second half of their 31-12 victory over Fountain Valley two weeks ago.
Key to the game--Since Bauer has not been dependable as a passer, El Modena will have to try and establish a running game against El Toro. That's something no team has been able to do. Run in one direction and there is the 250-pound Spalding waiting. Run the other and the 230-pound Wayland is there.
Consensus--Don't expect El Modena to be successful on the ground--or in the air. Another half of work for Air Johnson should once again suffice for the Chargers. Look for El Toro to win big.
Westminster vs. Crespi
The records--Westminster 1-1-1, Crespi 3-0.
The site--Crespi High School.
Westminster update--The Lions are still in search of an offense following last week's 21-0 loss to El Toro. Co-coaches Jack Bowman and Jim O'Hara had hoped to establish a running game this season, but Westminster's leading rusher, tailback Corey Dickson, has only 136 yards in 3 games. Quarterback Mike Austin has had some success, completing 27 of 55 passes for 348 yards. However, he has thrown six interceptions and no touchdown passes. The Lions' strength was supposed to be defense, but Westminster has been vulnerable to both the run (Valencia rushed for 251 yards against the Lions in the season opener) and the pass (El Toro threw for 145 yards last week).
Crespi update--The Celts have outscored three opponents (El Rancho, Burbank and Santa Barbara), 107-7, behind the running of sophomore Russell White, who has gained 452 yards in 28 carries (16.1 average) and scored 7 touchdowns. White is the nephew of former USC running back Charles White and former UCLA running back Kermit Alexander. "He's the best anywhere," Crespi Coach Bill Redell said. "He's the kind of kid who comes around maybe once every 50 years." The Celts' defense is led by 6-foot 5-inch, 215-pound linebacker Sean Howard.
Key to the game--Westminster's defense, which is led by linebackers Mark Smith, Ray Smith and Todd Weaver, will try to do something no team has so far: contain White, who is fast and has excellent moves. But if the Lions can stop the running back, and if their offense emerges from its slump, they'll have a chance at handing Crespi its first defeat.
Consensus--Crespi doesn't have a good passing game, and Westminster is the type of team that is capable of shutting down a good running back. But the Lion offense has been sluggish, and that gives the Celts the advantage.
Newport Harbor vs. Costa Mesa
The records--Newport Harbor 2-1, Costa Mesa 3-0.
The site--LeBard Stadium (Orange Coast College).
Newport Harbor update--The Sailors have struggled offensively, averaging only 10.6 points in three games. The defense has scored two of Newport Harbor's three touchdowns. Both victories came on field goals by Sterling Coberly. Coberly has kicked two field goals in each game, including a 38-yarder last week against Huntington Beach. Tailback Ed Milum had his best game against Huntington Beach, gaining 157 yards in 22 carries. He also intercepted a pass. Mark Craig is the county's second-leading pass receiver with 19 receptions for 203 yards. The Sailors have not allowed a point in nine consecutive quarters.