Teams with outstanding quarterbacks will meet tonight when Hawthorne High School (9-1-1) plays El Toro (9-2) starting at 7:30 p.m. at Mission Viejo High School in the second round of the Southern Conference.
Bret Johnson, El Toro quarterback, has completed 109 of 188 passes for 1,617 yards and 17 touchdowns this season despite missing four games with a knee injury. Wide receiver Chris McCarthy has caught 45 passes for 673 yards despite missing three games with a back injury.
Curtis Conway, Hawthorne's speedy quarterback, has passed for 16 touchdowns and rushed for 20, accounting for all but three of the Cougars' touchdowns this season.
In other conference games:
Mission Viejo (10-1) vs. Cerritos (8-3) at Gahr High School: Running back Eric Ekdahl has gained 345 yards and scored 8 touchdowns since replacing injured John Burns four weeks ago. Quarterback Troy Kopp has completed 76 of 166 passes for 1,130 yards and 9 touchdowns. The Diablos have seven straight victories since losing to Santa Ana, 28-7, in the fourth week of the season. Cerritos is coming off an impressive 35-0 victory over Beverly Hills. Running back Darrell Thompson has rushed for 904 yards and caught 24 passes for 151 yards this season, scoring 13 touchdowns.
St. Joseph (9-2) at Laguna Beach (10-1): Two quarterbacks with more than 4,000 yards passing between them will be featured. Mark Brunnell, St. Joseph quarterback, has completed 157 of 279 passes for 2,112 yards and 13 touchdowns. Danny Lane, Laguna Beach quarterback, has completed 160 of 228 for 2,042 yards and 18 touchdowns. Brunnell's favorite target is wide receiver Byron McMorris, who has caught 61 passes for 1,035 yards and 7 touchdowns. Pete Schmitt, Laguna Beach tight end, has caught 51 passes for 594 yards.
Paso Robles (8-3) vs. Woodbridge (10-1) at Irvine High School: The Bearcats rely on a potent wishbone offense centered on the running of fullback Jason Brown and quarterback Trevor Moriarity. Brown has 22 touchdowns, and Gene Noji, Woodbridge coach, said he is the best back the Warriors have faced this season. Woodbridge limited St. Genevieve to only four yards rushing last week, and Warrior quarterback Fred Schweer completed 7 of 14 passes for 139 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Pacifica (8-2-1) at Newport Harbor (8-3): Running backs Oscar Ravelo and Chris Shockley carried Pacifica to a 28-0 victory over La Mirada in the first round last week. Ravelo gained 130 yards rushing in 16 carries and scored 3 touchdowns. Shockley added gained 126 yards. The Mariners will depend on them again this week.
Newport Harbor is coming off a 31-21 upset of third-seeded Sunny Hills. Tailback Scott Morency, who missed the six previous games with an ankle injury, gained 81 yards and scored two touchdowns against the Lancers. In games that Morency has played, the Sailors are 5-0.
Corona del Mar (6-5) at Valencia (9-2): The Sea Kings have won five straight games and Coach Dave Holland gives a lot of the credit to quarterback Mitch Melbon. "We play as good as Mitch does," Holland said. "And Mitch has been really good the last four of five games." Melbon completed 9 of 10 passes for 171 yards and 3 touchdowns in a 28-7 victory over Troy last week.
Valencia is led by fullback Keef Leasure, who rushed for 1,012 yards this season, despite being plagued by a sprained ankle for four games. When Leasure was hurt quarterback Robert Navarette passed effectively. The Tigers have a strong defense, which could cause Melbon problems.
Bishop (8-3) vs. Whittier Christian (8-3) at Whittier College: Whittier Christian advanced to the quarterfinals by beating Palm Desert in overtime, 21-20. Running back Carey Sotello scored on a two-yard run and Mike Coello kicked the extra point, providing the Heralds with the margin of victory.
St. Margaret's (10-1) vs. Coast Christian (11-0) at El Camino College: St. Margaret's is the first Orange County team to play for an eight-man championship. Quarterback Chris Drey threw two touchdown passes to lead the Tartans past Bloomington Christian in last week's semifinal.