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Moments That Helped Shape the Prep Sports Year : A Time for Change

June 13, 1995|BOB ROHWER

As graduating seniors across Orange County prepare to toss their mortarboards and face the future, it's time to take a look back at the people, events and issues that helped make 1994-95 a remarkable year in county high school sports.

Few prep sports fans are likely to forget the accomplishments of Mater Dei in football and boys' and girls' basketball. The Monarchs won Southern Section titles in each sport, won the boys' Division I State championship in basketball and came within three points of winning the girls' Division I State title.

The football team finished 14-0 and ranked No. 1 in the nation.

Or the Woodbridge girls' basketball team, which returned to Oakland and avenged a 71-38 drubbing last year by beating Sacramento El Camino, 55-40, to win the Division II State championship.

Or Misty May, the most sought-after volleyball recruit in the nation, leading Newport Harbor to its first Division I State title. Or the girls' soccer team at Marina, extending its unbeaten streak to 61 matches in winning its third consecutive Division I championship.

Or the county record-breaking feats of track and field youngsters Bryan Harrison (Dana Hills sophomore, 100 meters) and Ashley Bethel (Mission Viejo freshman, 100 hurdles). Or Esperanza senior Courtney Pugmire's shattering of the 3,200-meter record by nearly 14 seconds.

Or the playoff success of the county's baseball teams, winners of four of six section titles. La Quinta and Fountain Valley became the first county teams to win back-to-back championships, on the same day at Anaheim Stadium. Or Marina and Woodbridge's victories in the Division I and II softball title games.

Or the continued domination of county schools in swimming and diving, with Mission Viejo and Laguna Hills earning Division I and II boys' championships.

Or Garden Grove breaking Alhambra Keppel's 115-match winning streak in badminton. The Argonauts ended Keppel's five-year reign as section champions with a 10-9 victory in the Division I title game.

County schools won 29 section titles and three State titles.

Members of The Times Orange County prep sports staff share their memories about the people, events and issues that made the greatest impression on them in the last 10 months.

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A Time for Change

Nearly every large community has its Mater Dei High School.

In the Concord area of Northern California, it's called De La Salle.

It, too, is a parochial school with unlimited enrollment boundaries that participates in a public school league. And it, too, wins. A lot.

De La Salle has won seven of the past nine Northern Section football titles and this season finished undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the state.

People in the East Bay complain about even playing fields and the like.

Sound familiar?

Jim Barnett resigned as football coach at Trabuco Hills because he didn't believe his team could compete at the Division I level--or against Mater Dei in the South Coast League.

"We would be playing for second place every year," said Barnett, who started the Mustangs' program and within four years turned it into a power. "I'm not taking shots at Mater Dei. . . . I don't even think they wanted to be in the league. It's more a CIF issue. But now we're stuck with them until who knows when."

Barnett's resignation came within days of another South Coast League football coach--Capistrano Valley's Eric Patton--leaving to become an assistant coach at Saddleback College.

Patton said his decision had nothing to do with Mater Dei's domination of the league. Patton played middle linebacker for the Monarchs in the mid-'60s.

But other league coaches have expressed dismay having to compete against Mater Dei. Rainer Wulf, boys' basketball coach at Trabuco Hills, declared his Mustangs the league's "public school-league winners" after they finished runner-up to the Monarchs.

The league's boys' basketball coaches selected their all-league team and left off Schea Cotton, Mater Dei's all-everything sophomore forward. They said it was because Cotton missed half the league season because of a groin injury. Really.

Mater Dei officials have said they wouldn't mind a return to the all-parochial Angelus League, where everybody plays by the same rules and before very large crowds.

Maybe it's time for such a change, for everyone's sake. Wouldn't want to lose anymore coaches.

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