If Los Alamitos High School's 24-0 Empire League victory over Pacifica was lacking in suspense, it made up for it in twists.
Los Alamitos (5-1, 8-1) will now represent the Empire League--as will Loara and Esperanza--in the playoffs. The final order won't be determined until next week, however.
Now how exactly the Griffins won Friday night's game at Bolsa Grande Stadium was a bit of the old and a bit of the new.
First there was the defense. The Los Alamitos defense that recorded its third shutout of the season, and for the sixth time in nine games held an opponent to less than 10 points.
"I though our defense was spectacular," said John Barnes, the Los Alamitos coach. "You know there's going to be some big hitting going on in a game like this. And I thought we played tough."
Los Alamitos limited Pacifica to 139 yards of total offense. The Griffins held Pacifica's leading rusher, Ray Willis, to 26 yards in 14 carries.
The Mariners deepest penetration was the Los Alamitos' 29-yard line, and that was because Griffins' running back Mike Cole fumbled at his own 30.
Now, about Cole. . . .
Friday he rushed for 125 yards in 23 carries, the first 100-yard performance of his career. See, most of the time Cole doesn't even see who's carrying the ball. That's because he's usually throwing his body into the line as Neil Sorenson makes the spectacular moves.
Sorenson entered as Los Alamitos' leading rusher with 619 yards. But all that running tends to wear a guy down. So after Sorenson carried the ball on Los Alamitos' first 10 running plays, Barnes decided to give the ball to Cole.
After five carries that gained an unspectacular 20 yards, Cole ran up the middle for a 39-yard touchdown, breaking several tackles along the way. It wasn't exactly a thing of beauty, but then Cole's forte is not flashy moves.
He is Los Alamitos leading scorer (13 touchdowns) and the majority have come with Cole doing what he does best--throwing his body at some 200-pound lineman down around the goal.
"I'm really happy," Cole said. "It hasn't really sunk in. I'm not used to this kind of thing."
Cole's second touchdown came on Los Alamitos' first series of the second half. Ryan Blossey returned the second half kickoff 59 yards to the Pacifica 31. After two Cole carries and a personal foul on Pacifica, Cole rushed six yards to put Los Alamitos ahead 14-0.
After Dino Syrengelas kicked a 32-yard field goal to make the score 17-0, Cole ran seven yards for Los Alamitos' final score.
Los Alamitos quarterback Tom Williamson completed 8 of 14 passes for 153 yards and threw 1 interception. Pacifica quarterback Brent Johnson had a much tougher time, completing 9 of 20 passes for 65 yards.
Loara 41, Kennedy 0--The Saxons scored 34 first-half points en route to their sixth shutout of the season before 760 in Anaheim's Handel Stadium.
With the victory, Loara (5-0-1, 8-0-1) clinched at least a tie for second place in the Empire League with one game remaining.
Edy Andros blocked a Kennedy punt and Brian Malavar recovered in the end zone to open the scoring midway through the first quarter. Later in the half, quarterback Scott Wood ran 20 yards for a score and Danny Roviera picked off a fumble and returned it 15 yards for a touchdown.
Although Wood had completed 4 of 7 passes for 79 yards by halftime, the Saxons did not attempt a pass in the second half. The final Loara score came on a six-yard run by Steve Nichols, which was set up by a third-quarter Kennedy fumble deep in its territory.
Bob Titus gained 40 yards in 9 carries for Loara, and Wood added 66 yards and a touchdown in 6 carries. Wood also kicked five extra points. Overall, the Saxons gained 259 yards.
Kennedy (0-6, 0-8) was held to 7 first downs and 119 yards. John Christensen, Kennedy's leading rusher, gained only 28 yards in 15 carries.