It took one half of football for the emotion to wear off between rivals El Toro High School and Mission Viejo Friday night in Mission Viejo Stadium.
And when physical ability took over, it was simply no contest as El Toro scored 24 unanswered points in the second half to defeat the Diablos, 38-14, and clinch the South Coast League championship.
"There's only one undefeated team in the county," El Toro Coach Bob Johnson said. "This is about as good as it can be."
El Toro finishes the regular season with a record of 5--0 in league, 10-0 overall and the No.1 ranking in the county.
Charger fans were a little pensive about whether their team would remain undefeated, however, when both teams finished a physical first half tied at 14-14.
"(Assistant) Coach Spalding told me earlier in the week that we'd win if we were tied at halftime, and he was right," Bob Johnson said.
There was no question about who was in control after El Toro's first two possessions of the second half, as running back Aly Diaz scored two touchdowns in less than five minutes for a 28-14 lead.
Diaz' second score broke the game open as he eluded the Mission Viejo defense by streaking down the left sideline for a 67-yard run.
Mission Viejo (3-2, 5-5) marched back down the field, but running back John Burns fumbled the ball on El Toro's 28-yard line and the Chargers recovered.
El Toro capitalized on the turnover by driving 70 yards in 11 plays before settling for Shane Brisbin's 31-yard field goal.
Charger quarterback Bret Johnson closed out the scoring with a 13-yard run.
"We knew it was just a matter of time before our defense shut them down," Bret Johnson said.
Neither team punted the ball in the first half, and El Toro didn't punt the entire game. Johnson dissected the Diablo defense on a wide array of passes, completing 11 of 14 for 163 yards.
Mission Viejo took a 7-0 lead on its first possession as quarterback Tony Arnone hit running back Eric Ekdahl on a 15-yard pass.
The Chargers tied the score quickly as Diaz ran the ball seven straight plays, eventually scoring on a two-yard run with five seconds left in the first quarter.
The Diablos again played it conservative on their second possession, with another Ekdahl touchdown run giving Mission Viejo a 14-7 lead.
But El Toro tied the score as Johnson scored on a quarterback keeper from the one.
Diaz gained 154 yards in 21 carries to lead El Toro.
Dana Hills 24, San Clemente 14--Dana Hills High School fullback Jason Burden capped two long drives with short touchdown runs in the fourth quarter to lead the Dolphins to their fourth straight victory over San Clemente.
Dana Hills (2-3, 4-6) rallied from a 14-6 deficit to finish fourth in the South Coast League. San Clemente (1-4, 4-6) placed fifth.
The Dolphins tied the score, 14-14, early in the fourth period when Burden dived two yards into the end zone. That ended a drive that covered 87 yards and took 4:25 off the clock. The drive was kept alive by two trick plays--a 40-yard pass from punter J. B. Hollis to Harold Taw and a 21-yard halfback pass from Billy Mitchell to Donny MacIntyre.
Tight end Greg Barbee caught the two-point conversion to tie the score at 14.
After a San Clemente punt, the Dolphins marched 65 yards in 11 plays, eating up 4:32. Burden scored on a four-yard run with 2:33 remaining.
When San Clemente was held on downs, Hollis kicked his third field goal of the game, a 22 yarder, to clinch the win with 55 seconds left.
The Dolphins held San Clemente to just 37 yards after the Tritons scored their final touchdown with 3:07 remaining in the third period. That TD came on a 32-yard pass from Andy Greek to Dan Morgan.
Morgan finished with 129 yards rushing in 17 carries and 53 yards receiving on four catches.
Capistrano Valley 36, Irvine 13--Junior Todd Marinovich threw four touchdowns passes to lead the Cougars (4-1, 7-3) to a victory over the Vaqueros (0-5, 1-9) at Capistrano Valley High School.
The victory, coupled with a Mission Viejo loss to El Toro, gave Capistrano Valley the league's second playoff berth.
Marinovich threw two touchdown passes to Steve Poltl in the first half. The first was for 39 yards to give the Cougars a 7-0 lead with 4:18 left in the first quarter. The second was a 23-yarder with 1:50 left in the half.
Marinovich also threw a swing pass to running back Tom Adams, who made it an 80-yard touchdown pass play.
Adams also scored on a 24-yard run early in the third quarter to put the Cougars ahead, 26-13.
Marinovich closed out the scoring with a one-yard scoring pass play to Brent Parker with 10:43 left.
Irvine running back Mike Stinke rushed for 102 yards in 16 carries the first half and scored on a 2-yard run.