During nonleague play, Mount Miguel nicknamed itself the "Thunder Midgets" because the team lacked height and bulk.
San Dieguito, which did not win a game in the Palomar League last season, was in a similar situation.
But it made little difference when it came to their records.
This season, San Dieguito is ranked No. 3 in San Diego County with a 9-2 record. Mount Miguel (7-3) is ranked No. 8.
No longer is it a surprise that Mount Miguel and San Dieguito will play tonight at Mount Miguel in a San Diego Section 3-A quarterfinal football matchup.
Coaches talk about the little things that count, the intangibles. Both teams have that. But they have some very tangible assets, too.
Mount Miguel is led by defensive nose tackle Eric Parker, 5-feet 4-inches and 166 pounds.
Parker was voted defensive player of the year by Grossmont 3-A League coaches. And Mount Miguel has the county's fourth-ranked defense in the county, allowing 6.4 points a game.
San Dieguito used a strong running game out of its Wing-T formation to average 24.8 points a game, ranking seventh in the county. And the Mustangs have done it with such players as running back Mark Horowitz, who is 5-9 and 155 pounds, and wide receiver/defensive back Chad Embrey, 5-8 and 145 pounds.
"We're both from leagues that have had teams consistently be successful in the playoffs," San Dieguito Coach Ed Burke said. "And somehow, we snuck in."
That's where those intangibles come in handy.
"We have all those things coaches talk about," said Gary Cooper, Mount Miguel coach. "That's probably why this team is so dear to my heart. They're overachievers."
Other Playoff Games
TODAY In 2-A:
Lincoln (9-1-0) vs. El Camino (5-6-0) at San Diego High--El Camino surprised people just by making the playoffs after losing its first five games. It proved it belonged with last week's 33-3 victory over University of San Diego High. Running back Joe Emerick, who ran for 889 yards during the regular season, scored two touchdowns, one on an 81-yard punt return. Mark Esposito, Tafu Tuitasi and Derrick Hale are first-team All-Avocado League defensive players. Lincoln has the county's top offense (46.1 points a game) led by quarterback Keith Mitchell, running backs Marcus Hopkins and Kevin Key and receiver Patrick Rowe. Lawrence Misa, Willie Newton, Key and Mitchell lead a defense that has limited opponents to a 5.9-point average.
Crawford (7-4-0) vs. La Jolla (8-2-0) at Mesa College--Crawford beat San Marcos, 20-19, in the first round, and expects the same type of game from ground-oriented La Jolla. Brent Woodall leads the La Jolla running attack. Quarterback John Tribolet has emerged as a clutch performer. When Tribolet throws, brothers Jeff and Brad Raulston are usually on the receiving end. Crawford relies on its defense to create mistakes and turnovers. Pat McGriff and Ivory Randle are defensive standouts.
Montgomery (8-2-1) at Vista (10-0-0)--Montgomery advanced to meet the county's top-ranked team by defeating Helix, 14-6, in the first round. Quarterback Troy Beale and running back Kevin Crawford lead the offense. Two-way players Alex Gill, Victor Perez and Luis Rodriguez are the heart of the offensive and defensive lines. Vista will give the ball to Palomar League player of the year Tommy Booker, who will run behind first-team all-league linemen Tiny Mitchell (6-7, 305) and Clarence Loa (6-0, 235). All-league players Tony Trousset, Charles Jordan and Todd Reed lead Vista's defense.
BIG GAME FACTS
Who: No. 8 Mount Miguel vs No. 3 San Dieguito.
Where: Mount Miguel High School.
When: 7:30 p.m.
Records: Mount Miguel 7-3, San Dieguito 9-2.
Last Meeting: None.
Players to watch: Mount Miguel: Anthony Rivera (5-11, 175) QB; Charlie Ray (5-10, 180) RB; Haywood Mathis (6-3, 180) DL; Eric Parker (5-4, 166) DL. San Diegutio: Mark Horowitz (5-9, 155) RB; Tim Bray (5-11, 150) WR; Chad Embrey (5-8, 145) DB/WR.