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Santa Margarita Shows Its Depth in Win


MISSION VIEJO — Trabuco Hills got its first break of the season before kickoff Friday when Carson Palmer showed up in street clothes.

Palmer, one of the nation's top quarterback prospects, missed the game because of a stress fracture in his left foot.

It was the only break Trabuco Hills got.

Palmer's replacement, Greg Orlando, led Santa Margarita to a 34-14 season-opening victory at Saddleback College.

Santa Margarita (1-0), ranked second in The Times Orange County preseason poll, won its 12th consecutive game, matching a 1990 school record.

Trabuco Hills (0-1), which ended last season with a near-upset of Bellflower St. John Bosco, had no such chance against the defending Southern Section Division V champion. Four first-half fumbles saw to that.

"We capitalized on what they gave us," Eagles Coach Jim Hartigan said. "I was impressed with the way we stepped up and took advantage."

Before Santa Margarita attempted a pass to its biggest offensive threat wearing a uniform, Colorado-bound receiver John Minardi, the Eagles held a 21-0 lead.

The first time Minardi (five catches, 53 yards), who averaged 24.8 yards per catch last season, did catch the ball, he took two steps into the end zone for a 16-yard touchdown reception. That was the first play of the second quarter.

Nick Sparks added a 46-yard field goal--one yard shy of the school record--for a 31-0 lead before Trabuco Hills finally scored, on quarterback Joe Edwards' eight-yard bootleg into the right corner. Bryant Wolfsberger blocked the extra-point attempt. Edwards added a one-yard run and Bryan Hatch a two-point conversion with 4:36 left in the game for Trabuco Hills.

Wolfsberger, a transfer from Capistrano Valley Christian, didn't exactly pick up where former Eagles running back Billy Newman (2,320 yards) left off, but he showed signs that the Eagles won't be without a running attack, either.

Wolfsberger (15 carries, 73 yards) rushed for two one-yard touchdowns in the first quarter.

Sparks also had a solid game, adding a 40-yard field goal in addition to his extra points.

Orlando filled in nicely for Palmer, who passed for 24 touchdowns last season. Orlando completed seven of 14 passes for 89 yards and one touchdown. He also scrambled 22 yards for a touchdown, making it 21-0. He rushed six times for 44 yards. Not a bad varsity debut.

Trabuco Hills' leading rusher, Chris Lewis, rushed 20 times for 61 yards before being injured with 10:01 left in the game. He was taken to Mission Hospital for observation and later released.

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