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PREP EXTRA / SATURDAY FOOTBALL PULLOUT : Savanna Handles Western, Then Hears More Good News

November 12, 1994|ELLIOTT TEAFORD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ANAHEIM — The Savanna football team had one simple request after defeating host Western, 23-7, in an Orange League game Friday:

"Couldn't we just stick around to hear the Brea-Olinda-Valencia final score?"

Savanna Coach Fred Di Palma just shrugged. How could he say no. His players had rolled around on the muddy field for almost two hours, what harm could they do in another 10 minutes?

When the news came that Valencia knocked off Brea-Olinda, giving the Rebels the league championship, the celebration began.

Savanna finished the regular season 8-2, 4-1 in the league. Valencia finished in a second-place tie with Brea. Western (7-2-1, 2-2-1) finished fourth.

"We preached to the kids all week that we had to win to get into the playoffs," Di Palma said. "You can't depend on anybody else."

Savanna needed help from Valencia, which defeated Brea, 10-7, in order to win the title. No matter the evening's results, Savanna would have qualified for the Division V playoffs with a victory.

The Rebels, fourth-ranked in Division V, promptly fell on their faces to start the game. They fell behind, 7-0, in the first quarter, had three turnovers by halftime and generally looked out of kilter.

By the half, Savanna had rallied for a 7-7 tie, however.

In the third quarter--after reminders from Di Palma that turnovers could prove disastrous--Savanna seized control.

"I said, 'Listen, we have to stop turning the ball over,' " Di Palma said of his halftime speech. "It's not that we made a lot of adjustments, we just stopped turning the ball over."

Western running back Justin Starkey, who had 110 yards in the first half, managed only nine more in the second. The Pioneers couldn't gain a first down until early in the fourth quarter. It was their one and only in the second half.

The Pioneers had five second-half possessions. Two ended in punts, two ended with interceptions and the fifth ended at the game's final gun.

Savanna running back Daven King, held in check in the first half, suddenly found room to run. He scored on runs of 23 and 33 yards and gained 108 of his 138 yards in the second half.

And Barry Michael, who caught six passes for 77 yards, kicked a 37-yard field goal.

Michael also had an interception.

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