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PREP EXTRA: ORANGE COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL | GARDEN
GROVE LEAGUE

Kosi Is the Man for Rancho Alamitos

November 02, 1996|DAVE McKIBBEN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

GARDEN GROVE — Just in case anyone forgot who the best running back in the Garden Grove League is, Leo Kosi reminded them Friday night. Kosi ran over, under, through and away from Los Amigos defenders, rushing for 283 yards and three touchdowns in a 32-16 Rancho Alamitos victory that gave the Vaqueros their second league title in three seasons.

The talk of the Garden Grove League last week was Los Amigos running back Najja Kee and his 311-yard rushing performance. But Kee was held to 70 yards and two touchdowns in 19 carries.

Kosi carried the ball 36 times and he didn't have many runs where he was brought down by the first would-be tackler.

"He's our man," Rancho Alamitos Coach Doug Case said. "Why give it to anyone else when you can give it to Leo Kosi. Najja Kee got a lot of publicity last week, but Leo proved he's a great back. Leo had the game of his life tonight."

Kosi was typically humble.

"I didn't expect to carry 36 times tonight," he said. "I didn't expect anything. I never do."

Los Amigos Coach Roger Takahashi said his defense was helpless against the speed and power of Kosi.

"We knew he would get it a lot," Takahashi said. "We prepared for it. He's just a great back."

Kosi ran for 166 yards and two touchdowns in 16 carries in the first half as Rancho Alamitos (8-0) jumped to a 19-7 lead. Los Amigos (5-3, 3-1) closed to 19-14 when Kee scored on a 15-yard run after Kosi missed a tackle at the line of scrimmage.

Kosi followed up his missed tackle with a play that nearly gave Case heart failure and almost cost his team the game. Rancho Alamitos drove quickly to the Los Amigos five and appeared ready to put the game away. But as Kosi was being tackled at the Los Amigos six, he lateraled the ball back to quarterback Taylor Yandell. The pitch wasn't close to Yandell and Los Amigos fell on it.

"It was a bonehead play, but he's a high school kid," Case said. "He's an emotional kid. I told him to put it out of his mind."

Los Amigos wasn't able to capitalize on Kosi's mistake as they punted after three plays. The Lobos had two more opportunities to get back into the game, but both chances were lost because of penalties.

Rancho Alamitos, holding a 19-16 lead, was punting to Los Amigos at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but the Lobos roughed punter Eric Camarillo, giving the ball back to Rancho Alamitos. The Lobos helped the Vaqueros again with a pass interference penalty on a second-and-20 play.

Kosi scored on the next play, running 19 yards up the middle on a trap play.

With Rancho Alamitos leading, 25-16, and ready to attempt a 44-yard field goal with four minutes left, Los Amigos jumped offside and gave the Vaqueros a first down. Two plays later, Yandell scored from one yard out on a naked bootleg.

"Two crucial penalties and some crucial mistakes," Takahashi said. "That was the game."

That and a little freight train named Leo Kosi.

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