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Friars' Victory Over Aztecs Doesn't Feel All That Good

Football: No. 4 Servite beats No. 3 Esperanza, 24-20, on late touchdown, but both teams suffer potentially costly injuries.


PLACENTIA — The first meeting between Esperanza and Servite, won by the Friars 24-20 Friday night at Valencia High, will be remembered for reasons other than the final score.

The game, decided by Vince Reed's four-yard touchdown run with 49 seconds left to play, might have exacted a severe injury toll on both teams.

Third-ranked Esperanza (0-1) lost all-league tackle John Sulik with a dislocated right kneecap on the Aztecs' first play, further depleting an already thin offensive line.

"That shows you how our luck has been going," Esperanza Coach Gary Meek said. "Without him we had a tough time trying to pass block."

Fourth-ranked Servite (1-0) might lose quarterback Greg Cicero, who fell on his right (throwing) hand late in the first half and might have dislocated three fingers. The extent of his injuries won't be known until X-rays are taken.

"I was hit and tried to brace myself," said Cicero, in obvious pain after the game. "When I landed, my hand turned around and I felt three knuckles pop."

Cicero, who completed 20 of 34 passes for 208 yards and two touchdowns, sat out most of the second half (being replaced by Ryan Garro), but came back to lead Servite's winning drive, beginning at the Aztecs' 43 with 3 minutes 24 seconds left.

Esperanza had just gone ahead, 20-17 on the second of quarterback David Parrish's two one-yard runs with 3:32 to play. Even though Esperanza's offense stagnated much of the second half, Parrish still had a productive night, completing 14 of 20 for 199 yards and a touchdown.

But Reed--who fumbled twice, was held to 49 yards rushing and who had an ice bag in his swollen right hand after the game--saved his best for last, diving the last two yards of his touchdown run.

"I'm glad the coaches had faith in me to keep letting me go out there," Reed said.

Esperanza broke through first, with a five-play, 41-yard drive in the first quarter. A 23-yard sprint by Jammal Footman got the Aztecs to the one, and Parrish took it in from there.

Then it was Servite's turn to go to work.

Cicero and the Friars' passing game starting clicking in the second quarter. The first play of the quarter was a 15-yard touchdown pass to Stephen Ward. Cicero followed that with a 30-yard scoring throw to Chris Bystead, giving Servite a 14-7 lead.

Cicero, who was 10 for 21 for 123 yards in the quarter, had one pass intercepted in the end zone (by Justin Good) and another potential touchdown pass that was ruled incomplete.

The Aztecs had one more big play in the first half themselves. With just under eight minutes remaining, Parrish rolled to the right, then tossed a flanker screen to Rod Jackson. The senior wide out burst through the Servite defense at the 45, and ran the remaining 55 yards untouched to draw Esperanza to within a point.

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