SAN DIEGO — Mike Dolan, San Pasqual High School's football coach, knows all too well about Lincoln's speed. The teams don't meet until tonight at 7:30 in a San Diego Section 2-A semifinal game at Mesa College, but Dolan has already seen ample evidence.
Consider this piece of game film recently viewed by Dolan and his assistants:
A Lincoln opponent, returning an interception down the sideline for an apparent score, is stopped by a sprinting Lincoln defender.
Dolan jokes that the tackle was made by someone wearing 75 on his uniform, a number usually given to the linemen. Close.
"He was wearing No. 68 (guard Ken Watson)," Dolan said. "It was one of their linemen. We were joking and it turned out to be the truth--now that's scary. They really do have overall speed."
Lincoln's top players include option quarterback Freddie Stokes and Darren Wagner, the county's leading rusher with 1,677 yards in 153 carries (167.7-yard per game average) and 19 touchdowns during the regular season.
Speed isn't a new feature of Lincoln teams. The last time San Pasqual faced Lincoln was in 1983, when San Pasqual won, 21-7, in the first round of the playoffs. Lincoln's quarterback was Steve Taylor, now at Nebraska.
"They (the 1983 Lincoln team) had a few outstanding individuals, but that team wasn't overall as quick as this year's," Dolan said.
The quickest team San Pasqual has faced this season is El Camino, which lost to Lincoln last week, 34-10. El Camino beat San Pasqual this season, 21-14.
"I was surprised that they were so much faster than El Camino," Dolan said. "But (El Camino) looked like they were playing under water against Lincoln. It's not by accident that Lincoln is the two-time defending champions."
Lincoln has established a tradition of being a 2-A power, advancing to the section championship 6 times in the last 10 years. The Hornets won five section titles during that period.
That's why Dolan has prepared his team to play Lincoln since the start of the playoffs.
"Whenever any team gets in the (2-A) playoffs, you have to aim for Lincoln," Dolan said. "So just the fact that we are playing them means we have reached one of our goals. Getting past them is another story. But getting to them is a satisfying task for us."
Dolan doesn't see how his team can stop Lincoln's running game. His best hope, he said, is to contain Lincoln's runners.
"If they hit the corner untouched, we'll put out the finish line," Dolan said. "It will be a track meet from there and we won't win that one."