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PREP EXTRA: SATURDAY FOOTBALL PULLOUT : Valencia Hands Western More Than First Loss


ANAHEIM — Western can forget the score--a 24-7 loss to Valencia in an Orange League game that knocked the Pioneers from the unbeaten ranks.

The bigger loss Friday at Western High was quarterback Dean Chambers, who sustained a right knee injury in the first half that took him out of the game, and perhaps the rest of the season.

Chambers, who was hit on the side of the knee as he made his final completion, was wearing a splint as he watched the second half from the sideline. He was able to walk back to the locker room without help after the game.

X-rays will determine the extent of the damage.

"He said he was hit late," said Pioneer Coach Jim Howell. "It's either a very bad strain or a possible tear, I don't know for sure. He had a similar injury to his other knee last year."

Valencia Coach Mike Marrujo did not want to see Chambers hurt but still could not contain his excitement. In throwing an extra large monkey wrench into the league race, Valencia (3-5-1, 2-1-1) can still recover from forfeiting three games for using an ineligible player.

"This was the best, most complete game we've played all season," said Marrujo, whose team has been in the playoffs 15 consecutive years. "We can still be league champs. We're going to Brea-Olinda next week and will give it our best shot."

Valencia did it by shutting out Western (7-1-1, 2-1-1), 17-0, in the second half because the Pioneers offense--struggling without Chambers--was in disarray.

Replacement quarterbacks Vince Branstetter and Chris Oropeza did not complete a second-half pass to their teammates but did combine for three interceptions, two going to Joe Secoda.

Secoda also contributed an eight-yard touchdown pass to Jermaine Gray, a three-yard scoring run, and a 34-yard field goal in the second half.

With so much at stake--Western wanting to prove its worthiness after cracking the county Top 10 this week, Valencia desperate to maintain some meaning to its season--no one expected a high-scoring affair.

Western, however, was vulnerable defensively; starters Hector Escobar, Damian Guerrero and Eddie Corral were out with injuries.

"We had been lucky in regards to injuries all season, and then it hit us all at once," Howell said.

Things were tight in the first half. Both teams swapped six-play scoring drives in the second quarter, the Tigers going 61 yards, capped by Secoda's two-yard run, and the Pioneers' 73-yard journey ending on a three-yard run by Josh Burdett.

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