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Saddleback, Orange Coast Collide Early This Year


Coaches Bill Cunerty of Saddleback and Bill Workman of Orange Coast admit they aren't very excited about meeting in the opening game of the season.

Both teams are in the Central Division of the Mission Conference and such games are usually played in the second half of the schedule. But the game is at 7 tonight at Orange Coast because neither coach is very patient.

The teams had byes the first week and this game was supposed to be in the final week of the season. But both coaches prefer to play this week instead of going through a sixth consecutive week of practice without a game.

"I think there must be a community college tucked away in the desert we would rather play," Workman joked. "We might as well find out where we are."

Saddleback figures to offer Orange Coast the strongest test of any Central Division team. The Gauchos, led by returning quarterback Justin Vedder and linebacker Joe Cesta, are ranked fourth in the J.C. Grid-Wire preseason poll. Cesta was a first-team preseason All-American and Vedder was second team. Orange Coast running back William League also was a second-team pick.

Chad Collins, a freshman from Trabuco Hills High, will start for Orange Coast at quarterback. It won't be the first time he has seen the Saddleback defense. Collins was the practice squad quarterback for Saddleback last season and he mimicked the quarterback of each of Saddleback's 11 opponents.

Orange Coast will have a similar edge on defense thanks to linebacker Jeff Carr, another transfer from Saddleback. Carr started one game and appeared in seven as a quarterback for Saddleback last season before moving to linebacker in an effort to play more.

In other Mission Conference season-opening games:

Cerritos vs. Rancho Santiago, Santa Ana Stadium, 1 p.m.--This game features a couple of outstanding offensive linemen. Rancho Santiago's Scott Fergus (6 feet 7, 300 pounds) and Cerritos' Joe Criscione (6-4, 295) are second team preseason All-Americans.

El Camino vs. Golden West, Orange Coast, 1:30 p.m.--Mike Shaughnessy, who spent 17 seasons as an assistant, makes his debut as head coach for Golden West.

Fullerton at Long Beach, 7 p.m.--Long Beach, the defending J.C. Grid-Wire national champion, is ranked 13th in the preseason poll. Fullerton linebacker Joe Petronis is a preseason All-American.

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