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Valencia Leaves Its Mark on Orange League Race


PLACENTIA — Valencia refused to give up the ghost.

The Tigers, left for dead in the Orange League, showed once again that there is no race without their participation. They insisted on that, with a 10-7 victory over Brea-Olinda Friday at Valencia.

"We are Valencia," defensive end Bryan Cork said. "You don't go through the Orange League without going to war with Valencia."

Savanna received the league title because of Valencia's victory. It's only the second time in 12 seasons that Valencia didn't win the league title. But the Tigers (4-5-1, 3-1-1) will take a second-place tie with Brea-Olinda, ranked seventh in Orange County.

The Wildcats (7-2-1, 3-1-1) had designs on that title, but came up inches short.

Jerome Owens lunged for a first down on a fourth-and-three play. Cork dived head first and knocked him back. The measurement was inches short and Valencia took possession with 2 minutes 25 seconds left.

"I had to finish him off," Cork said. "Our whole season came down to that play."

The Tigers' season was pretty much written off a few weeks back. They forfeited two victories and a tie because of an ineligible player. They started league play winless and things didn't get much better.

A tie against Anaheim and a loss to Savanna put the Tigers on ice. Not only were they out of the title run, they were going to miss the playoffs for the first time since Mike Marrujo was hired as coach in 1981. Or so people thought.

"The people who wrote us off didn't know Valencia," Marrujo said. "It's amazing what you can accomplish when you have kids who have the same purpose and don't care who gets the credit."

Quarterback Joe Secoda got it Friday.

He kicked a 38-yard field goal in the second quarter. That was set up when Jermaine Gray changed direction and chased down a Secoda floater for a 31-yard pass reception.

Secoda improvised in the third quarter, scrambling 53 yards for the Tigers' only touchdown. It gave them a 10-0 lead. The rest was left to the defense.

Owens, the Wildcats' 1,000-yard running back, was hemmed in for the most part. Linebackers Ryan Reilly, Steve Flores and Richard Ojeda spent much of game chasing Owens down.

Owens finished with 73 yards, most of which came on 67-yard touchdown drive in the third quarter. The rest of the game belonged to Valencia.

Said Flores: "We're Valencia and this is the Orange League. It's rightfully ours."

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