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PREP EXTRA: SATURDAY FOOTBALL PULLOUT : Fielding's Left Foot Gives Diablos Leg Up on Cougars


MISSION VIEJO — Todd Fielding had been Mr. Versatility for Mission Viejo this year. He was the team's leading rusher and also its kicker. But when Fielding sprained his right ankle two weeks ago--the one he kicks with--he handed over those duties to Mark Fiore.

But after Fiore tore cartilage in his knee during last week's game against Dana Hills, Fielding told his coach, Bill Denny, that he could kick left-footed.

"He really didn't believe me," Fielding said on Friday. "He gave me that weird look like he doubted me."

Never again. Kicking left-footed--after only a week of practice--Fielding's two extra-points provided Mission Viejo with a 14-13 victory over rival Capistrano Valley in front of a homecoming crowd of 3,000 at Mission Viejo.

The victory was important in the South Coast League race; Capistrano Valley (4-3, 1-0) was coming off a victory against San Clemente and plays league favorite Mater Dei next week; Mission Viejo (3-4, 2-0) will play host to Trabuco Hills.

"It gives us two wins, and our objective is to get to the playoffs, and we'll need to win at least three," Denny said.

"Without winning, our playoff hopes would have been greatly jeopardized."

Fielding rushed 23 times for 130 yards and helped run out the clock in the fourth quarter after Mission Viejo took the lead with 10 minutes 42 seconds remaining. But it was his extra point following the 10-yard scoring pass from Austin Moherman to Michael Smith that made him a real hero.

"It was probably the most important kick I've ever made," he said.

Fielding, a senior, learned to kick while playing youth soccer, and he played soccer as a freshman at Mission Viejo; that gave him the confidence to try kicking left-footed.

"I was thinking, 'I hope I make this--it could mean the game,' " he said. "But really, I was just so excited after we scored the touchdown."

The winning score came after Shannon Bohle recovered a fumble at the Capistrano Valley 19-yard line. Moherman passed 11 yards to Smith before finding him for the 10-yard score.

Mission Viejo took a 7-0 lead on its second play when Moherman connected with Ryan Ballas for 53 yards and Fielding kicked the PAT.

But Capistrano Valley scored in the second and third quarters. Tim Hirchag's four-yard scoring pass completed a 15-play, 85-yard drive, and Charlie Landrigan's one-yard run ended a two-play, 15-yard drive. That score was set up by the second of Jason Purvis' fumble recoveries. But Brett Thompson missed wide on the PAT, setting the stage for Fielding's heroics.

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