Sean Cheatham of Rancho Alamitos High School, Orange County's leading rusher and scorer, will be matched against Bolsa Grande, the county's highest-scoring team, when the football teams play at 7:30 tonight at Bolsa Grande.
Cheatham, who is averaging 28 carries per game, has rushed for 1,403 yards and scored 21 touchdowns to lead surprising Rancho Alamitos (5-2 overall, 2-2 in league) to third place in the Garden Grove League. The Vaqueros won only one game last season.
"He's a handful," said Greg Shadid, Bolsa Grande coach. "He's a good, hard runner who is obviously very durable. If you're going to stop Rancho, you've got to stop him."
Bolsa Grande (7-0, 4-0) is averaging 40 points per game with a potent veer offense. The Matadors, the Central Conference defending champions, have the longest current winning streak (16 games) in the Southern Section.
"Rancho traditionally plays Bolsa tough, so don't be shocked if we win," said Mark Miller, Rancho Alamitos coach. "I've told the players that if they want to make the playoffs, they better win this game."
Bolsa Grande has three players--running backs Ricky Lepule and Travin Lui and quarterback Damon Fisher--among the county's leading rushers.
Lui leads the team with 762 yards in 89 carries, followed by Lepule with 695 yards in 68 carries and Fisher with 646 yards in 70 carries. Fisher, who also plays free safety, has intercepted six passes.
"You're going to see some offense in this game," Miller said. "We're averaging 33 points per game, and they're scoring even more than that. It should be a great spectator game."
Mitch Olson, Kennedy coach, said the game won't be close.
"Bolsa Grande has the three best athletes (Fisher, Lepule and Lui) in the league," he said. "Pacifica has the best defense in the league, and Bolsa scored 31 points on them. I don't see anybody stopping them in this league."
After the Matadors' 24-7 victory over Valencia in last year's Central Conference championship game, Shadid told reporters that Bolsa Grande would never win another Southern Section football title. His team's performance has changed his thinking.
"I thought it would be difficult to repeat, and I still do," he said. "But we're getting better and better as the year progresses. We haven't peaked yet."
In other featured games tonight:
Santa Ana (6-1, 2-0) vs. El Modena (1-1, 4-3) in Fred Kelly Stadium: Free safety Bobby Joyce is expected to return to Santa Ana's lineup for what should be the Saints' toughest test in the league. Joyce was academically ineligible for the first seven weeks of the season. Tailback Robert Lee has rushed for 765 yards in 127 carries for Santa Ana, and El Modena's Pat Leborio has rushed for 439 yards, caught 17 passes for 149 yards and scored 7 touchdowns.
Esperanza (4-2-1, 1-0-1) vs. Los Alamitos (6-1, 2-0) at Gahr High School): Los Alamitos has played 20 consecutive quarters without allowing a point, and it has six shutouts. The Griffins are approaching the county record of nine shutouts, set by Santa Ana in 1921 and equaled by Villa Park in 1981. Esperanza has averaged only 10.8 points in its last five games. The Aztecs, who have qualified for the playoffs nine straight years, lost wide receiver/defensive back Clint Holt for the season with arthroscopic knee surgery.