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COMMUNITY COLLEGE NOTEBOOK / STEVE KRESAL

Rancho Santiago, Fullerton Playing for More Than Football Title

November 08, 1994|STEVE KRESAL

Put the simplest way, Rancho Santiago and Fullerton meet Saturday in the biggest regular-season football game of the season.

Here's what's on the line when the Dons and Hornets play at 7 p.m. Saturday at Cal State Fullerton:

--A share of the Mission Conference Central Division title. The teams each have 4-0 records. Rancho Santiago (7-1) has won seven in a row and Fullerton (5-2-1) has won five of its last six.

--An invitation to the Simple Green Orange County Bowl Dec. 3 at Orange Coast.

--Rankings. Rancho Santiago moved into the top spot in the Southland Poll Monday and Fullerton is ninth.

--The lead in the oldest series in the state. The teams first met in 1916 and are 33-33 with four ties. Rancho Santiago Coach Dave Ogas has a 6-6 record against his alma mater.

"It's going to be fun playing (Fullerton) for the championship," Ogas said.

Fullerton Coach Gene Murphy is 0-2 against Rancho Santiago.

"This is great," Murphy said. "This is fun. Having an opportunity to coach a game like this is what you're in coaching for."

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This season: Neither team was expected to challenge for the division title but defense has made the difference. Fullerton is first in the 14-team conference, giving up 341 yards a game.

"At the start we knew if we had a strength it was going to be the defense," Murphy said. "They are really playing well together and improving each week."

Rancho Santiago is second in the conference, giving up 351 yards a game.

"The play of our defense has been the No. 1 reason we're doing so well," Ogas said. "They have given us a lot of confidence to try things on offense."

Rancho Santiago is coming off a 72-21 victory over Southwestern. The 72 points is a Mission Conference record and the second-highest total in the Dons' history.

The Dons scored 80 points against El Centro (now Imperial Valley) in 1924.

Fullerton beat Orange Coast, 35-9, also on Saturday. The Hornets had eight tackles for losses and OCC had minus 37 yards rushing in 23 carries.

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The quarterbacks: Rancho Santiago's Simon Fuentes and Fullerton's Marc O'Brien are accurate.

Fuentes, from Garden Grove High, is 87 of 128 (68%) for 1,382 yards. He has 16 touchdowns, which ties a Rancho Santiago single-season record. Four of his passes have been intercepted.

O'Brien, from Valencia High, is 134 of 202 (66%) for 1,702 yards with 10 touchdowns and five interceptions.

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A large crowd?: If ever a game could draw well, it's this one.

The last time the teams met in a game of this importance was in 1988 when Fullerton was 7-0 and Rancho Santiago was 6-0-1.

Fullerton made a goal-line stand in the final minute and came away with a 24-17 victory before about 5,000 at Fullerton District Stadium. Coincidentally, the series was tied (30-30-4) before that meeting.

"I hope we can get a big crowd," Ogas said. "We're going to tell the kids about the olden days and try to renew the rivalry."

Fullerton is doing what it can to increase the crowd by offering a two-for-one ticket deal on $7.50 reserved seats.

The deal is available with a coupon, which can be obtained at the Fullerton athletic department, at Boege's Sporting Goods, the Togo's sandwich shop across from the college, the National Sports Grill and the Off-Campus Pub. All locations are in Fullerton.

General admission tickets are $5.

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And one more makes 100: Golden West is going for its 100th consecutive conference victory in women's volleyball at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Rancho Santiago.

Golden West (16-2, 9-0) beat Saddleback in three games Friday for its 99th consecutive conference victory.

The victory over Saddleback also assured the Rustlers of at least a tie for the Orange Empire Conference title. Golden West is ranked second in Southern California behind Cerritos, which beat the Rustlers twice earlier this season.

Notes

Golden West, the five-time defending State champion, is the top-seeded team in the Southern California water polo playoffs, which start Friday at Long Beach Belmont Plaza. The Rustlers (25-2) play No. 8 Rancho Santiago (18-12) at 9:30 a.m. Long Beach (20-4) is seeded second and plays No. 7 Fullerton (21-11) at 12:30 p.m. In other first-round games: No. 4 Citrus (29-5) plays No. 5 Orange Coast (17-7) at 11 a.m. and No. 3 Grossmont (28-6) plays No. 6 Cuesta (18-9) at 2 p.m.

The first-round winners qualify for the State tournament, Nov. 18-19 at Belmont Plaza. The Southern California tournament continues with semifinal games at 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Friday. The championship game starts at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

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