SAN DIEGO — Lincoln Coach Vic Player says his team is in the midst of a rebuilding year. He'll explain that 29 players on his roster had never played on the varsity level before this season.
"They (his players) refuse to accept the fact that we are in a rebuilding year," Player said.
Are these the rumblings of a coach trying to excuse himself from a terrible season?
Lincoln is 8-2 and enters tonight's quarterfinals of the San Diego Section playoffs against El Camino (7:30 at Balboa Stadium) as the favorite in the 2-A division.
"I guess your reward for winning (in the first round) is going against the top-seeded team," said El Camino Coach Herb Meyer, whose team defeated University of San Diego High School, 29-3, last week in the opening round. No. 1-seeded Lincoln had a bye last week.
Though Player has been faced with new faces this season, Lincoln still carries the trademark of success--speed. Darrin Wagner is the 1987 edition of fast Lincoln running back.
Wagner has rushed for 1,677 yards and 22 touchdowns this season. He joins quarterback Fred Stokes to make Lincoln's backfield as quick as any in the county.
That combination side tracks Meyer's game plan.
"Our preparation for the playoffs is different from anything else we do," Meyer said. "We like to be in a position where we can build up through each game. But when you go against, Lincoln, it's hard to build from that.
"You can't make any mistakes against Lincoln."
In last year's playoff, Lincoln took advantage os El Camino's sloppy play in the first half, gaining a 32-12 victory.
Lincoln went on to beat Oceanside, 41-7, in the section championship. The year before, Lincoln beat Crawford, 28-0, for the championship.
In fact, Lincoln has made eight trips to the playoffs in the past 10 seasons, playing in six section championships. Lincoln has won five titles.
Player, however, is more concerned about what will happen tonight. For one of the few times this season, Lincoln will field a healthy squad with the return of flanker Dwayne McAfee (broken left arm) and free safety Calvin McGee (bruised right thigh). Both players missed the last six games.
El Camino's injury situation is not as bright. Meyer said several of his players are playing with minor injuries. Most notably is running back/linebacker Ed Miller, a three-year starter who has been hampered by a broken rib suffered in the opening game.
Still, Meyer said his team is confident.
"My players are genuinely enthused about playing Lincoln," he said. "They are aware that Lincoln can be beaten. The kids are not in awe of Lincoln or scared of Lincoln."