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PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE FOOTBALL

Aliso Niguel Gets a Perfect Ending

Football: Wolverines win their first Pacific Coast League title with 28-21 victory over Laguna Hills.

November 15, 1996|MARTIN HENDERSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

MISSION VIEJO — Scott Nemeth talked about Aliso Niguel's football program, about how he and his teammates had opened the school together four years ago, gone through the growing pains, and had looked forward to this day.

And it was their day.

In a battle of unbeaten teams in the last week of the regular season, Aliso Niguel, ranked second in the Southern Section Division VIII, scored a 28-21 Pacific Coast League victory over top-ranked Laguna Hills. The Wolverines won their first league title in front of about 7,500 Thursday at Mission Viejo High.

It was evident that Nemeth, who rushed 14 times for 162 yards and two touchdowns, and his teammates were ready for the game of their lives.

John Hefty's 83-yard kickoff return turned the game's momentum going into halftime. It came on the heels of Michael Jones' three-yard touchdown run to tie the score, 7-7.

"That changed the momentum," Aliso Niguel Coach Joe Wood said. "I could see it over there on their sideline. More than see it, I could feel it."

Hefty also made the downfield block that ensured Nemeth would score from 75 yards on the Wolverines' second play of the second half to give them a 21-7 lead. And Hefty's last-minute interception sealed the outcome.

"This is definitely the biggest game of my life, and the one I've prepared most for," Hefty said. "I know everything about this [Laguna Hills] team."

Aliso Niguel (10-0, 5-0) beat a two-time defending league champion. Laguna Hills (9-1, 4-1), one of the county's four unbeaten teams going into the last week of the season, was ranked fourth in the Orange County poll. Aliso Niguel is seventh.

"It's big for our school, for our staff, for our team," Nemeth said. "Hopefully, this won't be it."

Aliso Niguel's not done. When the section playoffs begin next week, the Wolverines can expect to be the top-seeded team.

Nemeth, scored on touchdown runs of 21 and 75 yards. He praised the offensive line, which enabled Trent Perley to run 16 times for 112 yards (and one touchdown).

"The offensive and defensive lines have been the key the whole season," Nemeth said.

The defense did its part, holding the county's leading rusher, Jones, to only 70 yards in 15 carries.

Jones had been bugged by the flu earlier this week, and Hefty, noticed the difference.

"He didn't look like Michael Jones--he looked a little intimidated or something," Hefty said. "We'd hit him and take him down, and usually when he gets hit, he bounces off people."

Laguna Hills Coach Steve Bresnahan said he was probably selfish for playing Jones, who scored on a three-yard touchdown run to tie the score, 7-7, with 2:14 left in the first half.

In the second half, Jones was mostly used as a decoy, carrying only four times for 18 yards.

Laguna Hills was unable to overcome the 14-point deficit after Nemeth's 75-yarder. He also scored from 21 on Aliso Niguel's first series of the game.

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