Los Alamitos High School did not shut out its sixth consecutive opponent, but it did beat Esperanza High School, 13-10, in an Empire League game at Hanford Rants Stadium Thursday night. That was good enough for Coach John Barnes.
"There was no way I expected to shut out a team like Esperanza," Barnes said. "They're so big and powerful. . . . I don't know how our kids lived through it."
Well, if the Griffins were hurt, they didn't show it. The victory was the third straight for Los Alamitos over Esperanza.
Los Alamitos (7-1, 3-0) has emerged as one of Orange County's best and most balanced teams. Its defense had shut out five previous opponents before Thursday and did manage to shut out Esperanza (4-3-1, 1-1-1) in the first half.
The Griffins have a number of offensive weapons, the most interesting being quarterback Todd Gragnano, a sophomore, and wide receiver Sky Dubourdieu, who, well, did you catch the first name?
On Los Alamitos' winning, 47-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter, Gragnano and Dubourdieu combined on two key passes for 26 yards. Esperanza double-covered highly touted Jon Cisneros throughout the game, so Gragnano went to people such as Dubourdieu instead.
Another key play on the winning drive was Frank Beckton's 14-yard run on third and two from the Esperanza 27. Beckton ran into the middle of the line, where he broke one tackle and then headed to the right sideline, where he broke two more tackles before being shoved out of bounds at the 13.
Three plays later, Marcus Garcia scored on a two-yard run. Eric Lange's conversion kick made it 13-10 with 5:07 left.
Esperanza came right back, driving to the Aztec 49. But running Lance Brown, on a halfback pass, was hit once, then threw short and into the waiting hands of Los Alamitos defensive back Winston Wolf.
The Griffins ran out the clock from there.
"They got a lot of penetration, too much penetration for the play to be successful," said Esperanza Coach Gary Meek of the interception. "It's one of those plays that you practice once every three weeks."
Los Alamitos had taken a 6-0 lead at halftime on field goals of 23 and 29 yards by Lange.
Esperanza's Kevin Leon kicked a 29-yard field goal in the third quarter to cut the lead to 6-3.
The Aztecs took a 10-6 lead on quarterback Jason Moler's 11-yard run with 11:12 left in the game.
Gragnano completed 12 of 24 passes for 118 yards. Dubourdieu caught 6 passes for 56 yards.
In another Empire League game:
Katella 19, Cypress 0--Jeff Yourstone scored two touchdowns in the first two minutes of play to lead the Knights in front of 500 in Glover Stadium.
Yourstone, a senior, scored on a 21-yard run on the first play from scrimmage after a fumble on the opening kickoff by Cypress' Mike Gee. Three plays later, Yourstone picked up a fumble and returned it 32 yards for a score, and Katella (4-3-1, 1-1-1) led, 13-0.
Katella running back Joe Pastorello rushed for 181 yards in 20 carries and scored on a 12-yard run with 3:22 left in the third quarter. Cypress is 1-6-1 and 1-1-1.