GARDEN GROVE — Sometimes losing a game is the best thing that can happen to a football team. At least that's what Rancho Alamitos Coach Mark Miller thought as his second-ranked Vaqueros prepared for Santa Maria Righetti in a first round Division VII game at Bolsa Grande High.
Miller's team responded from an embarrassing loss to Los Amigos last week by dominating the visiting Warriors, 57-17, to advance to the second round against Culver City.
Jeff Byrd and Marshall Brown, the team's offensive leaders during the season, once again paced the Vaquero attack. Byrd, the county scoring leader, rushed for 133 yards and scored four touchdowns, while Brown completed 9 of 11 pass attempts for 218 yards and two more scores.
The senior quarterback also scored Rancho Alamitos' first touchdown by returning a Righetti kickoff 95 yards. He also added a 34-yard scoring run in the third quarter.
"Last week's game taught them that they could lose," Miller pointed out before the game. "They have their priorities straight again."
Righetti gave the Vaqueros (9-2) an early scare, building a 10-7 lead in the second quarter behind John Ramer's one-yard run and a Paul Sheen field goal. The Warriors also controlled the pace of the game, using an option offense to run 42 plays compared to just 13 for the Vaqueros.
Rancho Alamitos bounced back with five unanswered touchdowns to post a 35-10 lead with 1:29 left in the third quarter. The Vaqueros didn't sit on the lead, however. Righetti gave them motivation to play harder despite the large lead.
"They were taunting us and talking trash the whole game," Byrd pointed out. "A lot of what they said was meant to intimidate us, but it just fired us up."
Byrd closed the scoring with a pair of fourth quarter touchdown runs. His 50-yard run with 2:56 left made it 50-17. Then, following a Righetti fumble, Byrd entered the game again and ran for an 18-yard score, despite dropping the ball twice. "I was lucky, but I wanted the score," he said.