This week is the league opener for most Orange County high school football teams.
But the teams in the Garden Grove League have played two league games already, and a game that could determine the league championship will take place tonight. Bolsa Grande and Pacifica, both 2-0 in the league, will meet at 7:30 tonight at Bolsa Grande High School.
"It's being built up to be the big game of the year right now," said Bill Craven, Pacifica coach.
Pacifica returned to the Garden Grove League this season after having moved to the Empire League in 1981. At that time, it was a league powerhouse, and Bolsa Grande wasn't a contender.
But things have changed in the past six seasons. Last year, Bolsa Grande won its first league championship and went on to win the Central Conference championship. Bolsa Grande is ranked fifth in the Orange County Sportswriters' Assn. poll and has the Southern Section's longest winning streak at 14 games.
In their five victories this season, the Matadors have outscored opponents, 212-29. Running back Travon Lui leads the team in rushing with 569 yards in 57 carries. Lui and quarterback Damon Fisher, who are among nine key players returning for Bolsa Grande, are second and third among county scoring leaders.
"They (the Matadors) are a major problem in regard to the big play," Craven said. "They have multiple offensive weapons."
Traditionally, Pacifica (3-1-1 overall) has been effective at stopping such weapons. And this year, the Mariners have another strong defense, which has allowed only 20 points all season. Outside linebackers Scott Parrish and Danny Blaue, defensive tackles Derek Hickman and Todd Beneman and strong safety Mark Johnson are the primary reasons.
"We don't think we'll score as many points against Pacifica as we have in other games," Bolsa Grande Coach Greg Shadid said. "They have an attacking defense."
Oscar Ravelo leads the Pacifica offense. He has rushed for 531 yards in 80 carries. Greg White scored three touchdowns last week against Garden Grove, rushing for one, catching a pass for one and returning a punt for another.
In other key games:
Santa Ana (4-1) vs. Canyon (2-3) in Fred Kelly Stadium--Last year's Century League champion, Santa Ana, opens league play as the favorite to repeat, although it is without some of its experienced players. Running back Robert Lee, held out by Coach Dick Hill last week, will play against the Comanches. Senior wide receiver Bobby Joyce, who hasn't played this year because of academic ineligibility, is working out with the team, and Hill hopes to have him back in two weeks against El Modena.
Hill doesn't expect quarterback Richard Fanti, also academically ineligible, to return to the team. And this week, wide receiver and safety Royal Wilbon, who has scored six touchdowns and grabbed four interceptions this season, and tight end Albert Ruiz will not play. Hill cited attendance problems as the reason the two players will sit out the league opener.
But Canyon Coach Rod Hust, whose team is coming off a 33-0 loss to Orange, still has high regard for the Santa Ana lineup.
"Maybe if they didn't have eight or nine more guys, then it would (help us)," Hust said. "They are a big, physical team. This isn't the best time (after the loss) to have to face Santa Ana."
Canyon running back Eddie Washington, who had been out with a hip pointer, is back, and although he had limited playing time in the second half last week, he gained 93 yards in 10 carries.
Marina (1-4) vs. Edison (0-5) in LeBard Stadium--Last season, this matchup decided the Sunset League champion. Marina, the league champion, defeated Edison, which finished second.
The Chargers are coming off a tough nonleague schedule, and injuries, most notably to senior running back Kaleaph Carter, have set them back.
Last week Marina won for the first time, beating Millikan, 26-25. Last week also was the first time this season the Vikings' offense was productive. Marina's offense had scored just one touchdown before the Millikan game.
"It got the burden off our backs when we really needed it," Chris Ramsey, a second-year coach, said. "But we're still trying to decide how good we are on the offensive side of the ball."
In other league games:
Cypress (0-5) vs. Esperanza (3-2) in Bradford Stadium; Savanna (0-5) vs. Anaheim (4-1) in Glover Stadium; Magnolia (0-5) vs. Brea (2-3) in Handel Stadium.