There are more than a few people this season who do not like, really do not like, the Bolsa Grande High School football team.
OK, you're the Bolsa Grande football team, and for years you have been every other team's answered prayer for a week off.
You lose games. You lose games big.
Other teams make fun of you. Your own players say they have to hide their faces in their lockers to avoid the ridicule of classmates.
It gets so bad that your equipment manager describes the team as "a doormat."
Then, three seasons ago, you win more games than you lose (6-4). You even make the playoffs. OK, so once you get there, it all starts over again. You lose to Saddleback, 47-6.
But you made it, and everyone is happy for your gutty little Matadors and your cute little option offense and your cute little option quarterback, Damon Fisher.
The next year, Fisher and an all-junior backfield lead you to a 9-1 regular-season record and the Garden Grove League championship. You advance to the Central Conference final. Everyone's happy for you lovable losers, though some are starting to say that Fisher seems a bit, oh, uppity.
But, what the heck? This is purely a one-shot flash, since you have absolutely no chance in the final against perennial power Valencia.
Then you win the championship.
And lose some old friends.
Bolsa Grande averaged 27 points a game in 1986.
This season, the Matadors have averaged 40.7.
Last season, Bolsa Grande beat Savanna, 34-8, and La Quinta, 28-17.
This season, the Matadors beat Savanna, 54-0, and La Quinta, 51-6.
That nice little option offense is now recognized as the most potent offense in the county, and more than a few people have a problem with that. Several Orange County coaches complain off the record about the Matadors' big scores and "big attitude."
"I think a lot of people can't accept this team doing as well as it's doing," said Bill Holst, Bolsa Grande offensive coordinator. "I think people just have a problem with the fact that Bolsa Grande, this team that used to be so horrible, is scoring a lot of points. They can't adjust to that. They don't want to."
In football, especially high school, there's a fine line between beating a team and rubbing the opposing players' noses in defeat. An unwritten, but often-mentioned, code exists among coaches that says you don't throw long passes when you're ahead by more than 21 points in the fourth quarter. You don't run trick plays. You don't play first-string skill players. You don't call time out.
If you score a lot of points, there are a lot of things you don't do--and one thing you do a lot: Apologize.
Greg Shadid, Bolsa Grande coach, has spent a healthy amount of time after each game this season consoling losing coaches and making sure the newspapers don't get the wrong idea.
"Scoring a lot of points brings a lot of responsibility with it," said Mark Miller, Rancho Alamitos coach, whose team averaged nearly 27 points a game. "You spend a lot of time explaining yourself."
Welcome to success.
"You have to expect this, I guess," Shadid said. "I guess this comes with the territory. But I don't remember anyone feeling sorry for us when we were losing all the time. So we do what we have to do. You can't please everybody."
Especially when you have a great offense.
If you have a great defensive team, you can pummel, beat up and maul another team, and its coaches and players will come away singing the praises of a hard-nosed bunch that plays good, hard-hitting football.
But score a lot of points and you hurt feelings.
"You can't expect to be undefeated, average (about) 42 points a game and be popular," Shadid said.
Bolsa Grande has three backs--Fisher, Ricky Lepule and Travin Lui--who have rushed for more than 1,000 yards this season, the first time that's been accomplished in Orange County. A fourth back, Shannon Valdez, has gained close to 700 yards.
They gain yards in big bunches. Bolsa Grande's longest scoring drive this season was fewer than 10 plays long. Matador running backs always seem to be decelerating, having just crossed the goal line.
It has all been accomplished with an adequate offensive line and a roster of just 33 players.
Fisher is being hailed by many as the best option quarterback in this area since Bobby Acosta was at Western High in the early 1970s. In Bolsa Grande's offense, Fisher runs a true triple option.
Upon reading certain defensive players, Fisher makes the decision whether to give the ball to the dive back, to run the ball himself or pitch it to the trail back. In fact, Bolsa Grande doesn't really call plays, just formations. And most of the time, Fisher is changing things at the line.
"The entire success of that team begins and ends with that kid," said Tim Devaney, Sunny Hills coach. "He's absolutely amazing."
Others, however, think of Fisher as a brash, cocky brat who will some day get his comeuppance.